Spiffy Robot Legs

In this Ted Talk, Hugh Herr discusses the origins of his interests with bionics after he lost his own legs in a climbing accident, how his prosthetic limbs integrate with his body, and he shares several stories of recipients of the bionic limbs he works with.

From 2:00 through 2:30, Herr discusses how he began creating his own prosthetic limbs to adapt to different climbing situations. By adjusting the shape of his feet, he could climb rock features that other climbers couldn’t. ¬†In this section, Herr uses visuals heavily, showing examples of the different prosthetic limbs he crafted for climbing, his heavy usage of pictures videos, and diagrams is consistent later in the presentation when he discusses the more technical aspects of the bionic limbs he works on. His tone and expression are fairly constant throughout the presentation, there is a detectable hint of pride in his expression when he demonstrates how he can neurologically activate running. Herr uses some head and hand motions throughout his presentation, however it is more interesting to note that the cameras frequently zoom in on his bionic limbs. Herr also paces around the stage much more than any other TED presenter I’ve seen. This is because they are the primary focus of the presentation, and frankly they distract from the monotony of his voice.

Herr’s presentation is a mixture of a technical presentation as well as inspirational stories. Herr’s dry presentation style works very well for the technical elements, however not very well for the inspirational stories. This is why he use’s videos and other examples so heavily, as they are much better at appealing to people’s emotions and representing the mathematical modeling.

For example, at the end of the presentation, Herr shares a story of a girl who lost her leg in the Boston Marathon Bombing. He led a team to create mathematical models of dance steps so the girl could dance again with one the of bionic prosthetic limbs.

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