At MIT, Hugh Herr builds prosthetic knees, legs and ankles that fuse biomechanics with microprocessors to restore normal gait, balance, speed — and perhaps to enhance.

Why you should listen

Hugh Herr directs the Biomechatronics research group at the MIT Media Lab, where he is pioneering a new class of biohybrid smart prostheses and exoskeletons to improve the quality of life for thousands of people with physical challenges. A computer-controlled prosthesis called the Rheo Knee, for instance, is outfitted with a microprocessor that continually senses the joint's position and the loads applied to the limb. A powered ankle-foot prosthesis called the BiOM emulates the action of a biological leg to create a natural gait, allowing amputees to walk with normal levels of speed and metabolism as if their legs were biological.

Herr is the founder and chief technology officer of BiOM Inc., which markets the BiOM as the first in a series of products that will emulate or even augment physiological function through electromechanical replacement. You can call it (as they do) "personal bionics."

Hugh Herr’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Hugh Herr

How This Talk Came To Be

A powerful talk from Hugh Herr, 7 years in the making

May 27, 2014

“As you can see, my legs are bionic,” said Hugh Herr on the TED2014 stage. “The artificial part of my body is malleable, able to take on any form, any function, a blank slate through which to create structures that can extend beyond biological capability.” Standing tall in a suit hemmed at his knees, Herr […]

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My journey to dance again: CNN report on Adrianne Haslet-Davis

March 31, 2014

Adrianne Haslet-Davis performs the rumba at the end of Hugh Herr’s talk, “The new bionics that let us run, climb, dance.” Normally, this would not be a big deal for a professional ballroom dance teacher. But Haslet-Davis lost her left foot in the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013. This rumba was her first public […]

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