It is with great sadness that Equinosis reports the recent death of Dr. Yoshiharu Yonezawa, co-inventor of Lameness Locator. Dr. Yonezawa, “Yoshi”, was a former professor and dean of the Department of Applied Information Science at the Hiroshima Institute of Technology in Japan, prolific scientific author and electronic device inventor, and frequent visiting professor at the University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Kevin Keegan and Dr. Yonezawa first met at a Rocky Mountain Bioengineering Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1999, while Dr. Keegan was presenting results of kinematic studies of lameness in horses.
“It was at this meeting, when Dr. Yonezawa first approached me with the idea of implementing our fault detection method of lameness evaluation in horses but using body-mounted inertial sensors instead of cameras, body markers, and the equine treadmill,” said Dr. Keegan. “We started out with large sensors taped to the horse’s body and with wires running to big, clunky packs on the horse’s back, connected to cell phones for data transmission.”
But, Dr. Yonezawa visited Missouri frequently, usually about twice a year, with each visit testing a new and improved prototype. Sensors got smaller, electronics design improved, wireless data transmission became more reliable, and eventually a first version of Lameness Locator was produced.
“Dr. Yonezawa seemed to accomplish what other engineers assured me would take too long and require too much money, in a short period of time and for a fraction of the cost,” Dr. Keegan added.
After the launch of Lameness Locator in 2008, Dr. Yonezawa continued to work improving sensor design and software development, eventually retiring from Hiroshima Institute of Technology and serving in the E. Paige Laurie Endowed Program as a visiting professor for 6 months of the year.
Lameness Locator would not have been possible without the widespread expertise in engineering, signal processing, programming, and electronics design, and experience in sensor technology, circuit design, and the physical skill of constructing handmade prototypes, of Dr. Yonezawa.
“I owe him much,” Dr. Keegan confessed. “He had the most significant positive influence on my professional life, more than any other colleague I have had the pleasure to work with. Most importantly he became my dear friend and I will truly miss him.”