Inventor of the Week Archive
for a different Invention or Inventor
Student inventor Anne Marie Casper was born September 26, 1981
in Poughkeepsie, New York. As a child, she was always extremely curious about
the "hows and whys of everything." Today, at just 20 years of age,
she has already begun to make her mark in the world of assistive technologies.
Her advancements in the field include a device that would help an assistance
dog to pull its owner's wheelchair and a dog leash that would require little
motor control to use, allowing people with disabilities to control their dogs
Throughout elementary school Casper liked to come up with creative ideas for
new vehicles and technologies, including flying cars, teleportation devices,
and even space shuttles that could travel to distant planets in short amounts
of time. She first had the idea of enabling a dog to pull a wheelchair when
she was just seven years old after watching her mother, who has post-polio syndrome,
use a wheelchair from time to time." I had to push her around whenever
I wanted to go somewhere, and one day in the grocery store I had the great idea
of getting a dog and tying it to the front of my mom's chair so it could pull
her," she said.
Casper began working on a prototype for such a device in fall 2000, and though
she is still working on the project, she has completed a second, improved version
and hopes to take it to the commercialization stage in the future.
In addition, Casper has created a piece of equipment to modify the existing
wheelchair mount for DynaVox communications
systems that allows the system to function on a specific type of pediatric wheelchair."
The solution itself was fairly simple, figuring out how the tubing had to be
shaped so that it would work with parts of the existing mounting system and
hold the communication device in the correct location," Casper said of
her creation. She became involved with the project initially to help one of
her mother's students (her mother is an occupational therapist).
Meanwhile, Casper has begun working on a number of other inventions, including
a design for a better harness for dogs, which would provide balance and bracing
assistance for ambulatory people. This project is still in the early planning
stages. She is also in the later stages of prototype development of a leash
that requires very little fine motor control to use. In addition, she has worked
on a device that would allow organic farmers to control potato leafhopper infestations,
as well as other insects with similar hopping behaviors. Two prototypes of this
exist and have been tested to some extent.
Today (Feb. 2002), Casper is a student at Hampshire
College in Amherst Massachusetts, studying Assistive Technology & Sustainable
Technology design and Environmental Science. At Hampshire, in addition to her
other projects, she is also in the early planning stages of a device to create
adjustable height push handles for wheelchairs. In her spare time, Casper enjoys
rock climbing, reading, horseback riding, akido, whitewater kayaking, drawing
Celtic knotwork, hiking and playing the clarinet. She's also teaching herself
how to play the mountain dulcimer.