Developing technology to power peoples’ mobility is very meaningful to me ... I'm very proud that eventually the research and development that we did in the lab will have an impact on peoples’ lives.
I'm a robotics engineer. When I was young, I was inspired by movies, like Ironman, and other cool technology movies. I was doing my PhD in Spain seven years ago and I came as a visiting student to Harvard. I saw some of the work that was starting in the robotics lab and I became obsessed with it. A week later I started working at Harvard. I didn't even go to my graduation. I just fell in love with the work.
I recently spun a company out of Harvard called Verve that is commercializing wearable technologies for a broad range of applications. We're developing a lightweight wearable device that is mostly made of textiles, so it feels like clothing, that can actually improve peoples’ mobility. For example, someone who has had a stroke, who cannot walk as efficiently as before, can wear one of these to walk a little bit faster and more efficiently. Or someone who is lifting heavy things or doing a task that requires a lot of effort can wear one of these so that their muscles have to do less work and the task feels 30% to 40% easier. The technology can be very meaningful in preventing injuries and allowing workers who are moving heavy materials around or caregivers who are helping people to move around to do their jobs more safely and efficiently.
Developing technology to power peoples’ mobility is very meaningful to me. I’m excited about getting the technology out to the broader community and having it be something that actually people can wear all day, every day. I'm very proud that eventually the research and development that we did in the lab will have an impact on peoples’ lives.
In the future these technologies will be more and more ubiquitous. The components get smaller, more integrated and just better. So, in a few years at the Bionic 5k, we will not know who has a disability and who doesn’t. I think for wearables that's the next phase.
What I really enjoy about the Bionic 5k is that anyone can join. I like the inclusiveness. People who are amputees or have had a stroke or even have had a spinal cord injury can run with everyone else. Also, as a community we need to do more of these kinds of activities to raise awareness of mobility-related technologies and what they can do for people. About 20 people in Connor’s lab at Harvard decided to join the first year and it’s now become an annual tradition for us to do this race.
I'm kind of a runner by accident. I always played basketball until I came to the States. It turns out that in Boston running is one of the sports that is easy to organize around the rest of the day. So, I started running about five years ago. I went from never having participated in an official race to deciding to run a marathon.
What’s my motto or philosophy? “If you're passionate about something - make it happen.” A lot of the decisions in my life have been made following that type of approach. If I feel that something's right, I go for it – I put all my effort toward making it happen.
Ignacio, Bionic5K athlete