The Icon 20/20 Designers: Hugh Herr 01.05.09

iWalk2

Powerfoot One for iWalk 

In his job as director of the Biomechatronics group at the MIT Media Lab, Hugh Herr has been responsible for advances in the design of artificial limbs that have transformed the lives of millions of people. "My design interest has always been in the realm of human augmentation which extends beyond prosthesis - machines inside the body, attached to the body and in the vicinity of the human that extend human capability," he says. Most recently he and his team at MIT have developed the PowerFoot One, together with the company iWalk. It is the world's first powered prosthetic ankle and foot, a completely self-contained robotic system. "It's a wearable robot that allows a person to walk in a normal way," explains Herr. He is himself an amputee, after a mountain-climbing accident at the age of 17, and therefore has a unique insight into the needs of a disabled person. "It's not appreciated by many people that half of the world's population is disabled, physically or emotionally, and I would say that technology has not served this population well," says Herr. He is at the forefront of changing this.

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Image

Adam Laycock

 

Words

Justin McGuirk, Johanna Agerman, William Wiles, Anna Bates, Beatrice Galilee, Oliver Wainwright, Alex Pasternack, Matthew Barac, Sean Dodson

 

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