For most, work-life and home life are two distinct and separate things. For better or worse, we spend a large part of our waking lives working in order to spend the rest of our time with those we love most. But for Jean-Louis Constanza, a robotics engineer from France, the line between his work life and home life are slightly blurred. Constanza doesn’t bring his work home out of necessity, or because he’s simply unable to unplug – the dedicated dad’s work follows him home because it revolves around making life easier for his son.
Oscar Constanza, Jean-Louis’s 16-year-old son, was born with a neurological condition that makes walking impossible. For most of his life, Oscar relied on others to help him navigate the world. Oscar dreamed of independently doing the small, simple things we take for granted every day. Until recently, however, feeling independent remained a distant fantasy.
“One day Oscar said to me: ‘dad, you’re a robotic engineer, why don’t you make a robot that would allow us to walk?'” Constanza recalled in an interview with Reuters.
There is truly no greater motivator than your child asking for help, so as any dad would, Constanza got to work. He joined forces with two other men working towards the same goal, and together, they formed Wandercraft – a company working diligently to create exactly the type of device Oscar needed.
“The founders gradually gathered a team of scientists and engineers around one mission: leveraging state of the art dynamic walk robotics to help walking impaired people regain mobility,” Wandercraft’s website explains.
Wandercraft accomplished its goal, creating an exoskeleton that allows users to walk independently. As of right now, the device is too heavy for home use, and it comes with a hefty price tag of $176,000. Its use in dozens of hospitals has proven life-changing, and now, the company is working to make the exoskeleton lighter and more affordable.
“Before, I needed someone to help me walk,” Oscar said. “This makes me feel independent.”