Travis Deyle, 32
He has built robots that can be powered wirelessly and ones that can bring people medication. Now Google has him trying to use technology to improve health care.
Q: At the Google X research lab, you’ve been part of the team that is building glucose-measuring contact lenses. Now you’re working on a different, undisclosed health-care-related project. How do you apply your robotics experience at Google X?
A: Almost every field can benefit from robotics. “Robotics” is really just a nice way of saying “massive multidisciplinary everything,” because you have sensing, perception, controls, machine learning, mechanics—everything. Automation. And having that broad exposure lets you plug in to any group, regardless of the domain, and make massive contributions.
Q: What impact do you hope to make?
A: Improving people’s lives is the key thing. Health care is one of those things that’s been stagnant for a while, and there’s a lot of regulatory reasons for that, but there’s also just a lot of risk aversion. I think by taking a more agile approach we can actually make giant leaps and bounds.
Q: Why is Google in any kind of position to solve big problems, such as those in health care?
A: It has buy-in from the highest level. Google’s founders take risks that no one else will. It reminds me a lot of the amazing things that came out of Bell Labs, like the transistor, which obviously drove entire revolutions in technology. So I think they have the right mind-set to embrace innovation and failure in ways that other organizations just won’t.
Watch this Innovator at EmTech 2015
Meet the Innovators Under 35