Greg Jones, also known as the robot whisperer, joined the University of KwaZulu-Natal in July 2014 to do his MSc, continuing the Touch Hand work previously designed by the founder, Drew. Greg is focusing his research on modularizing the Touch Hand to be more easily upgraded, as well as streamlining and compacting the electric design to give the hand a more polished and user friendly look. He’s aiming high and hoping to have the hand completed and working by April 2015, but in the meantime let’s chat to Greg about his role in the project. Because after all, the people developing the Touch Hand technology are the brains and soul behind this impressive project:
Q.) What made you begin your masters at UKZN after 6 months of entering the workforce world?
Working in the industry definitely had the benefits of earning a decent salary, networking with others who enjoy engineering and gaining valuable hands on experience. However, at the age of 23, I felt like this was the time in my life where I had minimal responsibilities and obligations, so I wanted to try making a career out of what I was most passionate about. My passion lies in research, design and the development of mechatronic and/or robotic products. From my personal knowledge, opportunities in this field are predominantly found at universities, which led me to UKZN.
Q.) The world was your oyster when it came to choosing a research project for you masters. What made you jump on the Touch Hand bandwagon?
I had many other ideas and interests within robotics, specifically robotic arms (like the ones you find in vehicle manufacturing plants), but as soon as I heard about this project my heart was set. There’s nothing that could give me more gratification than engineering something that can change someone’s way of life.
Q.) What do you like most about working on the project so far?
One of the best feelings I get is watching an idea grow from a concept to reality, after spending many hours imaging how it will look, feel, move, and function. The mechanical design is starting to form into a reality, while I can also happily say the same for the electronics.
Q.) This project involves a combination of mechanical, electronic, control, and computer engineering, which is holistically known as mechatronic engineering. Which side of the project excites you the most?
From my last answer you could say that I enjoy them all, but if I really had to choose, then I would stray towards the control and computer engineering side. There are some difficult concepts to grasp in the areas of knowledge, backed up with in-depth mathematics that make both aspects challenging and that much more rewarding.
The takeaway: Greg’s a passionate one and with his work ethic and expertise, alongside Drew’s Touch Hand foundation and entrepreneurial spirit, they make a dynamic duo to keep a close eye on.