John Krakauer – A Very Special Team

(Photo João Camilo)

A Very Special Team

Why have a full-time artist in the team?

Well, if you’re going to simulate a dolphin, you have to draw it. Kat McNally graduated in 2012 from a famous art college in Baltimore and she had been doing some art work for us. And she joined us – and that was another thing that Hopkins had to accept.

What were the chances of us having an artist that good, on top of Promit being so good and Omar being so good and then the last member, Kevin [Olds], our roboticist? I mean, I still am a little bit in shock!

You also needed a dolphin specialist.

Again, we were very lucky. Through a friend of mine, we met Sue Hunter, who was the main dolphin trainer at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. And she opened everything to us spent far more time than I could in the aquarium and she could see how deeply they appreciated the dolphins and valued what she knew. So that was a very special collaboration with her. She unfortunately died of a brain tumor the year before last.

Are you going to develop other games?

Yes, and definitely movement and cognition-based. Omar and the team are currently heavily involved working with Steve Gleason, a [american] football player with ALS  [amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the same disease as British physicist Stephen Hawking], to develop a whole set of games for ALS.

Other teams are interested in the games for vestibular and balance disorders; and I’m beginning to get involved with patients who are getting hand transplants. We’re also working on normal ageing, so the sky’s the limit.

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