Technology empowers us and how? Rosanna Myers, the co-owner of Carbon Robotics – a company that creates ‘robots for the rest of us’ speaks to Manju Ramanan on her latest innovation The Arm, that facilitates a cross section of people including those with special needs. The Robotic arm has the capabilities of an industrial robot and is currently being used extensively in the food and for medical surgery but will soon extend itself to other spaces and smoothen people’s lives
The robotic arm has the capabilities of an industrial robot at the price of a laptop
What does the robotic arm do?
She is called KATIA short form for Kick Ass Trainable Intelligent Arm. She has taken a personality of her own and does anything that a human hand does. Depending on what you put the attachment to, the arm acts like a human hand. Currently she is being used in the food industry and surgery since she is incredibly precise. she is also used as attachments in play-stations. But you can interact with her physically as well.
Was innovation part of your growing up years?
I was raised in England. My mother is British and my father is American. After high school I decided to take a gap since I didn’t want to walk the beaten track. At Duke, I majored in Political Science, participated in Focus, studied at Oxford, and sang with the Rhythm and Blue A capella group. My professional life as an entrepreneur began to take shape when Daniel Corkum and I won the high-tech track of the Duke Start-Up Challenge, a competition designed to help students develop entrepreneurial ventures and foster new businesses.
Were you always fond of technology?
I love gadgets. I have always marveled at new inventions and how they have alleviated problems of people and helped them deal with their challenges. One of the ideas I developed with my friend and now business partner Daniel is an environmentally-friendly ‘green’ technology to chill water and other liquids roughly 120 times more efficiently. Modern water coolers and drinking fountains can use up more energy per year than a large refrigerator. Their prototype costs roughly five dollars per year to run, has only three moving parts, costs one third as much as a regular water cooler to manufacture, and can fit in a shoe box. We run The Green Cooling Group, a business created from this idea.
Where else has technology like the Arm been used?
If you have watched the film Gravity, the special effects that you see in the film were never seen before. That is because the technology used to create the special effects were written, devised and customized for the film. Arms have also been used to manufacture cars. But all that is complex technology and you need expertise to use them. KATIA on the other hand is pretty user-friendly. Depending on the type of application, you could download and app and use it accordingly. It is also used in place of real hands for people with special needs to navigate their way around, open doors or use the arm as an attachment to reach objects kept in higher places.
You lived in a reserve as well. Tell us about it?
I have lived and taught at a remote reserve in Costa Rica. I got the opportunity to change so many people’s lives. That is the same thought I apply to creating technology. It has to make a positive change in people’s lives. There was a lot to learn there. Our spirits are fearless and loving, they encourage us to live joyful, abundant lives and to connect deeply with others. Our egos are cautious and afraid; they discourage us from taking risks, venturing beyond our comfort zone or showing people who we truly are. They both play important roles, but we have a choice about which part of us gets to run the show. Joseph Campbell once said something that resonates deeply with me, ‘Follow your bliss and the world will open doors for you where there were only walls.’
Elaborate on ‘Follow Your Bliss’?
I have always been grateful that I was in a position of privilege to choose a path for myself. Certain things call us. Things that are beyond jobs and careers. For me, I wanted a calling and not a career. We have very little time on this planet and we are all endowed with different skills, ambitions and dreams. When you recognize how they all come together through you, you can create change. I am clear that I want to do good and my ambition is tied to a larger human cause.
Who inspires you?
My father a tech geek has been inspirational to me. My father was my first insight into the power and practice of transformational leadership. People inspire me. When I see a new technology in the offing, I always ask, if my mother who lives in England can use it. My father was amputated and on a wheelchair when I was a little girl and I tried to make the house a little easy for him to navigate, An incredibly active man became tethered to a wheelchair overnight. A lot of what I do know stems from that thought – I wanted to help him deal with his challenges better.