Assistance in Motion, one of Rev’s newest member companies, is expanding the landscape of developmental technology for toddlers. Founders Sharon Stansfield and Carole Dennis combined their backgrounds in computer science and occupational therapy, respectively, to create WeeBot. The hands-free device allows young children with limited motor function to move on their own. This mobility helps promote cognitive development among several key areas in children as young as 6 months old.
We spoke with Dennis, President of Assistance in Motion, about the company’s journey and where they plan to go from here.
What is the “origin story” behind your company?
While professors at Ithaca College, Sharon and I began collaborating with an interest in developing assistive technology for young children. With money left over from an NSF Instrumentation Grant, we bought our first mobile robot, with the intention to see if we could develop novel methods of control that very young children with disabilities could use to control their movement independently. The original WeeBot used the Wii balance board, with software developed by Dr. Stansfield. We conducted research with this device over many years, learning that infants as young as 6 months of age could drive it intentionally, and that the early mobility it provided influenced development across several areas, including cognition, communication, and socialization.
What customer need is your company attempting to address?
The WeeBot is designed to meet the desires of parents and therapists to provide the ability for very young children with motor limitations to move independently.
Do you have any recent company milestones or accomplishments you would like to share?
Our research was supported by the National Science Foundation. We began our company in 2020, and recently received an SBIR Phase I grant from the National Science Foundation to re-engineer the WeeBot for a commercial market.
Where do you envision your company a year from now? Five years from now?
We plan to apply for an SBIR Phase II grant within the next year, with the goal to have a market-ready device for manufacture. In five years, we envision the device being used by early intervention programs in clinics and in children’s homes.