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MIT Technology Review

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  • Corinna E. Lathan

    Age:
    34

    While involved in biomedical studies funded by NASA, Cori Lathan realized that astronauts in orbit encounter physical challenges much like those faced by people with disabilities. An astronaut, for example, must learn to move in an awkward space suit much the way a spinal-cord injury victim may have to relearn to walk. The experience guided Lathan in her search for better assistive tools as founder and CEO of College Park, MD- based AnthroTronix. An expert in human-performance engineering, Lathan devised interfaces that allow children to communicate with a half-meter-tall robot via body movements. Wireless sensors are placed on the child’s body, and Lathan’s playful, furry JesterBot solicits and mimics the movements and facial responses of its human buddy. The interaction can help a child with cerebral palsy get through painful physical therapy. Lathan is applying similar ideas to army research. Gestural interface technology can keep a night patrol leader in wordless contact with soldiers equipped with goggles that display his gestures as small icons. “I never thought about what I wanted to be,” she says.“I always just looked for cool things to do.”