We obviously love our gadgets around here. But, as worked up as we get for things with octa-core processors and 4K displays, what really excites us about technology is its ability to improve people’s lives. And while having an endless repository of information at your fingertips 24/7 certainly qualifies, we’re more interested in the people working to solve real problems. In the basement of the Egan Research Center at Northeastern University, a group of students are toiling away under the watchful eye and guidance of professor Constantinos Mavroidis to build a rather unique device called the Virtually-Interfaced Robotic Ankle and Balance Trainer — or vi-RABT. For the better part of a year the team has been working on what started life as a Capstone project. The concept began when Dr. Maureen Holden, from the school’s physical therapy department, came to the laboratory with a problem: how can we improve the speed and quality of recovery for stroke patients who have lost strength in their ankles and struggle to stay balanced?