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A Foot in the Right Direction

We’re close to having the future we wanted in the past; the future we saw in Back to the Future and the Jetsons.

We’re close to having the future we wanted in the past; the future we saw in Back to the Future and the Jetsons. From bullet trains that go from Paris to New York, to phone screens that repair themselves, we truly are living in the future we once thought impossible. Heck! Even Lexus is making a hoverboard!

New strides in technology are leading to advanced bionics including implants in eyes that will allow you to zoom slightly and fix poor eyesight. Eye improvements are just the first step to helping those with certain disabilities; people who have lost their limbs are being given a new hope. Hugh Herr, engineer, biophysicist, and rock climber, has led a group to make bionic limbs for people who were born without them or lost them in an accident. Here’s the twist, Herr also has no legs from below the knee. He lost his legs to severe frostbite during one of his ice climbing ventures on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Herr had overcome his disability by realizing he can augment his legs. He could be six foot five inches tall one day and go back to 5 foot zero inches the next. I honestly think that’s not fair! Granted, they can’t help that they lost their limbs, but they each get their own version of “superpowers”.

Herr used his disability and engineering background to create bionic limbs that bend and move electrically using the nerves that are still in the limbs. During Herr’s TED Talk he demonstrated his new legs and showed the crowd how they work. He ran on the spot with his technology for the first time and explained how human nerve signals can be translated into robotic movement. Before this advancement almost all prosthetic limbs have been static and did not have the ability to push the user’s leg off the ground.

Hugh Herr ended his talk with the crowd by showing off the adaptability of these robotic limbs. He introduced Adrianne Haslet-Davis to the crowd who had lost her left leg in the Boston Marathon bombing we all remember. Sadly enough before the blast, she was a dancer and the blast took her away from the dance floor. Herr and his team of experts spent 200 days studying dance and the moves the ankle makes to design and build a foot for Davis to use. Thanks to Herr she is able to dance again.

In my eyes bionics is a step in the right direction. From helping people who were born without limbs, to helping those who were in accidents like Herr and Davis, bionic need to be made to further us as human beings.