TEDx speaker Henry Evans gives out candy and opens his fridge … via robot!

Today in the world’s a pretty amazing place — how quadriplegia hasn’t stopped Henry Evans from shaving, giving out Halloween candy, or even flying over his garden.

In today’s TED Talk — given at TEDxMidAtlantic  — we meet Henry Evans. In 2003, Henry became quadriplegic and mute after a stroke-like attack. But thanks to the help of Robots for Humanity — a collective of folks working to use robots to help the severely disabled live more independent lives — Henry can now shave, fetch himself a drink, even play soccer against other people with quadriplegia.

Henry’s world exploration isn’t limited to the ground, either. Henry can use the subtle movements of his head to fly a drone over his garden, onto his roof, or even on the other side of the country at Robotics For Humanity’s headquarters, all while wearing a virtual reality helmet that immerses himself in the flying robot’s universe.

In the talk, Henry tells how robots have changed his life, and how he hopes they will soon change others’:

For about two years, Robots for Humanity developed ways for me to use the PR2 as my body surrogate,” he says. “I shaved myself for the first time in 10 years … I handed out Halloween candy. I opened my refrigerator on my own. I began doing tasks around the house. I saw new and previously unthinkable possibilities to live and contribute, both for myself and others in my circumstance…

One hundred years ago, I would have been treated like a vegetable. Actually, that’s not true. I would have died.

It is up to us, all of us, to decide how robotics will be used, for good or for evil, for simply replacing people or for making people better, for allowing us to do and enjoy more. Our goal for robotics is to unlock everyone’s mental power by making the world more physically accessible to people such as myself and others like me around the globe.”

Take a few minutes and watch the whole talk. You’ll be glad you did.

Before I die I want to..

"Before I Die" is a project by TED Fellow Candy Chang that asks strangers to share what they most want to accomplish in their lives. Since Candy created the first “Before I Die” wall in New Orleans in 2011, people have installed “Before I Die” walls in 62 countries around the world, including at many TEDx events.

Above, a selection of a few TEDx “Before I Die” installations at TEDxHonolulu in Hawaii,  TEDxJerusalem in Jerusalem, TEDxRiyadh in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and TEDxBerkeley at the University of California, Berkeley.

Below, Candy’s 10 favorite “Before I Die” responses, from her interview with the TED Blog:

Before I die I want to…

  • be completely myself (New Orleans, LA, USA).
  • stare at the stars with the people I love (Pohang City, South Korea).
  • own my own ice cream factory (Asunción, Paraguay).
  • be a stripper and a nun at the same time (Santiago, Chile).
  • see where my grandma grew up (Townsville, Australia).
  • have my own theme song (Johannesburg, South Africa).
  • overcome depression (Newport News, VA, USA).
  • create a typeface of my own (Almaty, Kazakhstan).
  • try lots of things (Brooklyn, NY, USA).
  • stop being afraid (Jerusalem, Israel).

(Photos: Instagram users  dselectived, maha_92; _janiekins_; elishaseye)


Teenagers offer a lot. A lot of times, people think of teenagers as not caring, and that’s a big mistake. We do care about a lot of things, we just don’t know where to start. — Julia Bluhm

Julia Bluhm is a teenager who offers a lot. At just 14, fed up with seeing her friends stress over trying to be like the girls they saw in magazines, Julia and friend Izzy started an online petition protesting the overuse of Photoshop in Seventeen magazine.
What started out small soon gained momentum. Within days, the petition had over 25,000 signatures. After a month, Julia was outside Seventeen magazine headquarters presenting a petition that now had over 84,000 signatures.
In the end, her efforts paid off — Seventeen magazine issued a Body Peace Treaty, signed by all the editors, agreeing to show real, un-Photoshopped girls in their pages.
Julia and Izzy dominated TEDxWomen last year with their story, showing how to be a super, A+, no-nonsense, clever, ever-questioning, butt-kicking, media monitor — no matter your age. You can watch their talk here.
And for more evidence why you should never underestimate a teenager with a cause, read our interview with Julia on the TED Blog.

Teenagers offer a lot. A lot of times, people think of teenagers as not caring, and that’s a big mistake. We do care about a lot of things, we just don’t know where to start. 
— Julia Bluhm

Julia Bluhm is a teenager who offers a lot. At just 14, fed up with seeing her friends stress over trying to be like the girls they saw in magazines, Julia and friend Izzy started an online petition protesting the overuse of Photoshop in Seventeen magazine.

What started out small soon gained momentum. Within days, the petition had over 25,000 signatures. After a month, Julia was outside Seventeen magazine headquarters presenting a petition that now had over 84,000 signatures.

In the end, her efforts paid off — Seventeen magazine issued a Body Peace Treaty, signed by all the editors, agreeing to show real, un-Photoshopped girls in their pages.

Julia and Izzy dominated TEDxWomen last year with their story, showing how to be a super, A+, no-nonsense, clever, ever-questioning, butt-kicking, media monitor — no matter your age. You can watch their talk here.

And for more evidence why you should never underestimate a teenager with a cause, read our interview with Julia on the TED Blog.

Happy Friday! In case you missed it, here’s 3 TEDx Talks to watch with the feminist Ryan Gosling of your dreams.
And some of our other favorite posts of late:
Been a long time since you took chemistry? Check out this refresher on the mole. No, not the one terrorizing your grandma’s garden.
Happy 100th birthday, Albert Camus! Or, you know, nothing really matters and birthdays are pointless.
To bide the time until the return of Orange is the New Black, watch the real Piper tell her story at TEDxMarionCorrectional.
"A visit to a museum is a search for beauty, truth, and meaning in our lives. Go to museums as often as you can." Wisdom from TEDxMet.

Happy Friday! In case you missed it, here’s 3 TEDx Talks to watch with the feminist Ryan Gosling of your dreams.

And some of our other favorite posts of late:

  • "A visit to a museum is a search for beauty, truth, and meaning in our lives. Go to museums as often as you can." Wisdom from TEDxMet.