The work of Hugh Herr and his bionic legs is such a remarkable story that it got me thinking about the possibilities. I immediately thought of the bionic hand Luke Skywalker received at the end of The Empire Strikes back (called a Mechno-arm I believe). Luke’s hand was science fiction, but the technology that is being developed these days is approaching the level of that pictured in the world of science fiction. I’ve been researching issues related to generative design and 3D printing recently so I did a quick search to see if anyone was doing work in bionics directly inspired by the Luke Skywalker hand. This is how I found the Luke Hand project and a wonderful presentation by designer Shalom Ormsby at Autodesk's Pier 9. This is not a flashy presentation nor a dynamic TED talk. It was never meant to be. This low-key, authentic talk was given to a small group of peers at Pier 9. But Ormsby's cause is a great one and this talk deserves to be seen by a large audience. I hope you'll watch his talk and share it with others. It's fascinating and inspiring to imagine the possibilities.
Luke getting his bionic hand. How long before something like this becomes real?
What is the Luke Hand? At the moment it's fiction, just an idea, an artist's ideal of what a prosthetic hand could look like. In the presentation below, Ormsby says that the current state of prosthetics aim to make the hands appear real or to provide only basic functionality. But Ormsby insists "we can do better than this." And why not? Ormsby reminds us that technology has created remarkable things. We put men on the moon and brought them back safely to earth—and that was almost 50 years ago. Surely, Ormsby is suggests, human ingenuity can solve the problem of creating fully functioning prosthetic hands, something that can enrich the lives of millions, including many children. Technology has helped create amazing achievements, but "has been fairly deficient in terms of bionics, in terms of prosthetic development," Ormsby begins. So here Ormsby has stated what is and is hinting at what could be. Then he states the organization's objective in simple terms, almost Kennedy moon-speech clear: "To create an open source bionic hand that matches the functionality of a human hand, built for a four-year old within four year."
Pier 9 Presents: The Luke Hand Project with Shalom Ormsby from Pier 9.
Ormsby does a good job of zooming out to show the general and zooming in to illuminate the particular. Stated another way the objective is clear: "It's time to make science-fiction bionics science fact." While Ormsby explains the WHAT and the HOW, as much as you can do in a brief short-form style talk, he steps back to state the WHY. Remember, while the what, how, when, etc. are crucial to understand, what audience really need to hear—and what is often missing—is the why. Why do you care? Why should we care? And why is this important locally and globally? The question an audience may have is "Why should the Luke Hand exist? For this Ormsby begins with something personal and emotional. I'll let you see for yourself what that is.
• Luke Hand website
• Luke Hand on Facebook
• Luke Hand on Twitter
• Crowd sourcing page