Dean is no stranger to the TED and TEDMED stages and this year was no exception. Although nominally there to give us an update on the DARPA Luke arm (and to reveal an early rendering of the sleek new Gen 3 version), Dean used his time on-stage to rail against the FDA’s ludicrous approval process. Their progress to date has been nothing short of incredible and it is profoundly inspiring to watch amputees (many of them war vets) feed themselves and engage in the most mundane of activities that they never thought possible. One of their wives, upon watching her husband feed himself for the first time in thirty years, commented that she was either keeping the arm or they were keeping her man.
He elegantly destroyed the FDA’s refusal to grant a Type 1 certification to the arm, drawing an entirely convincing parallel to a widely available predicate device (a chainsaw purchased from Home Depot) and crafting some hilarious warning labels that the agency might want to consider.
Dean delivered the most entertaining talk of the event, driving home his arguments with the ole one-two punch of humor and relentless facts and sharing the amazing story of some of the work being done by the kids in his F.I.R.S.T. program, particularly in their Lego League joint venture with the Lego Group. I, for one, welcome our robot overlords but only if Dean had a hand in designing them.