Shorts are usually not an ideal attire to address an audience on a professional forum. However, Hugh Herr does not seem to corroborate with that norm, since he felt that displaying the very subject of his discourse, live to the audience, would create a greater impact. He took the stage for TED’s talk to enlighten the audience about bionic limbs and there was no better way to talk about it other than wearing a pair himself.
His choice of attire, although amusing, was considered the most appropriate to introduce his creation to the audience. Yet, had a hidden trump card, Adrianne Haslet-Davis. However, before we move on to his show-stopper for the evening, a little bit about Herr and his gift to the world deserves attention first.
The event, held as part of the TED conference in Vancouver, had Herr give an extensive look into his designs on bionic limbs for the differently abled. An MIT professor, Herr himself had lost both his legs to frostbite from a climbing accident. Not someone who would sit back and blame his destiny, Herr quickly took control of his life and dedicated himself to get back on his feet and also to help others to find theirs’ as well.
And he has not failed in his endeavor. Around a thousand people are already using his innovation successfully. Herr’s focus on comfort and ease of movement led to the creation of advanced bionic parts, responsive to the wearer’s nervous system. This ensures that the wearer is able to control the movements of the attached limb better by the use of chips, which reads the signals from the body itself.
The advancement is also, in terms of comfort, as Herr wanted to ensure that common ailments like blisters and soreness, which are associated with traditional prosthetics, are absent in his creation. He achieved it by customizing each bionic limb as per the wearer’s tissue composition and limb structure. What amazed the audience was Herr’s vision to eradicate the very concept of disability and replacing it with greater adaptability to any form of loss of limbs.
By negotiating with appropriate authorities related to Medicare and Medicaid, Herr hopes to get his product to those in need. If successful, Herr’s bionics will be covered under insurance and the benefits will have a far reaching impact.
Coming back to Adrianne Haslet-Davis, the show-stopper at TED’s Talk, is a professional dancer who gave an astounding and breathtaking performance. Not convinced yet? Well, what makes Haslet-Davis’ performance relevant to Herr’s offering is that she was wearing one herself, while performing on stage. A victim of the Boston Marathon massacre last year, she took on stage for the first time since the incident to leave everyone enthralled and in tears at the same time.
Haslet-Davis’ performance wasn't just a display of her prowess as a dancer, but also a highly satisfactory exhibition of Herr’s bionic innovation. A product made with conviction, flaunts its capability to let the wearer run, jump and even dance, with aplomb.