Using Bionics To Transcend Disabilities, Augment Human Capabilities: The Revolution Is Upon Us

By: | November 25th, 2014

Hugh Herr’s TED talk on bionics is a must watch for anyone interested in the limitations of human capabilities, whether the result of innate limitations of healthy people or congenital or acquired disabilities.

Herr is a brave and courageous young man who described by TIME Magazine as the “Leader of the Bionic Age” in 2011.  He is the head of the Biomechatronics Research Group at MIT Media Lab where he and colleagues have developed bionic limbs that use the latest technology to build the most natural artificial limbs available yet.

Among his innovations and inventions are bionic limbs that provide unprecedented mobility allowing people to climb rocky mountains, dance, and run; pretty much anything humans were meant to do. There is also a “gate adaptive” knee prosthesis and variable impedance ankle/foot exoskeletons for stroke victims and those with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, etc.

Herr is a double amputee himself, having lost his legs from frostbite while mountain climbing. Herr never saw his accident as a disability and believed with the right technology he would be able to resume his mountain climbing hobby.

Over the years is prostheses have become more complex, integrating each new breakthrough in technology that can allow people to gain more mobility naturally. In the following video is Herr’s story and we meet Adrianne Haslet-Davis, the young woman who lost her left leg below the knee during the Marathon bombing in Boston in 2014. She gives he first dance performance since the bombing at the 16:46 minute mark.

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David Russell Schilling

David enjoys research and writing about cutting edge technologies that hold the promise of improving conditions for all life on planet earth.

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