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This Bionic Limbs Keynote by Hugh Herr Explores the Future of Limbs

By: Neha Soni - Apr 12, 2014
References: youtube
In this bionic limbs talk, the future of androids seems to be one step closer with cutting-edge technology such as bionic limbs. Hugh Herr, head of MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics group, has created what is arguably the next big step towards the future of prosthetics. Herr had both his legs amputated, due to tissue damage from frostbite during a mountain climbing accident. Inspired by personal loss, he began designing specialized bionic limbs that allowed him to continue his mountain climbing endeavours.

It wasn't long until Herr was climbing mountains again, feeling no muscle fatigue he triumphed over steep ice walls and narrow rocky crevices - ones so strenuous to the human body, he may not have been able to with his original legs. He soon realized that these limbs could take any form, perform any function, and that with this innovation he could alter biological capabilities.

In elaborate detail, Herr explains the anatomy of his bionic limbs in three sects: mechanical, how his bionic limbs are attached to his organic body; dynamic, how they move like flesh and bone; and electrical, how they communicate with his nervous system. He goes in depth with how the limb functions, then moves on to share future plans of building exoskeletal structures.

Hugh Herr may sound like a maverick by taking risks with the human body, but his radical and forward-thinking movement has allowed people such as ballroom dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis to embrace the dance floor once again. Adrianne lost her left leg in the Boston terrorist attack, which undoubtedly disabled her from dancing. As a closing performance at the TED talk, she painlessly danced a piece with Chris Lightner to Ring My Bell by Enrique Iglesias -- her very first one since she lost her leg in the attack.

With people such as Herr pushing forward with these incredible advancements in biomechatronics, traditional prosthetics and heartbreaking disabilities may, one day, be a thing of the past.