As some of us prepare for a summer of blockbuster hits showcasing heroes overcoming mind bending adversity, we could all take a moment to ground ourselves in the reality that these are just movies. Yet, as art often imitates life, we can take comfort in knowing that we actually do live in a world of heroes and adversity.
Today Microsoft is showing off the hero mash up of University of Central Florida student Albert Manero and none other than on-screen hero actor Robert Downey Jr (known for his Iron Man movies, among others). The two came together to help a little boy overcome a bit of real life adversity.
Alex, a seven year old boy, was born with a right arm that was only partially developed. Hero combo Manero and Downey Jr got together with the promotion of the Microsoft OneNote division to offer Alex a special ‘hero’ 3D-printed limb. The event was held as a way to spotlight students who can and are making differences that help to improve the real world.
While the heartwarming event centers on the interaction of Alex and Downey Jr, the real hero is Manero. Albert is a doctoral student in mechanical engineering who has help found Limbitless. Limbitless is a program designed to offer affordable prosthetics to children in need through the use of 3D print technologies. This alternative offers some families who would otherwise not have the funds for normal prosthetic limbs a chance to get some for around a $350 price point.
Robert Downey Jr is no stranger to charity work, and his involvement in this project came after reading about Manero and Microsoft's combined effort in a Microsoft blog post titled, The Collective Project: Changing the world with bionic arms for kids. As Microsoft was among the first leading the charge for 3D printed technology in Windows 8.1 with their Windows 8.1 3D builder App, this team up seemed like a natural fit.
Take a second to enjoy Robert Downey Jr doing what he does best, being awesome, while giving Alex an Iron Man themed 3D printed arm. It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, and it’s nice to see real world heroes making a difference.