Easton LaChapelle turned his passion for robotics into something that will help change amputees' lives for the better. And it all started by watching YouTube video tutorials.
LaChapelle had always been curious about how things work. Even as a kid, he would tear electronics apart to see what is going inside them. He became so fascinated with science and mechanics. However, the school he attended had limited resources and does not offer classes that can teach him everything he needs to learn. Thus, he turned to YouTube and talked to experts through Skype.
He learned the fundamentals by watching YouTube tutorials
From video tutorials, he learned the fundamentals of electronics. That was when he got the inspiration to build a robotic arm that can be remotely controlled using a glove. Like most of us, he broke a lot of things and failed a lot of times. Still, that didn't stop him but instead motivated him even more.
Easton's first taste of success came when his design earned a third-place at a science fair. Still, he wanted to refine his creation and got back to the drawing board and start anew. This time he would design the robotic arm using computer modeling software. His redesigned, full robotic arm won second place in engineering at an international science fair. However, little did he know that someday day his creation will have a more meaningful purpose - prosthetics.
Easton met a 7-year-old girl wearing a prosthetic arm at that science fair. To him, the prosthetic arm looked primitive, but as he would learn, it cost about $80,000. Not only was it expensive, but his creation performed way better and for a fraction of the prosthetic device's cost. From that point on, Easton decided to dedicate his life to make affordable prosthetic devices that would impact a person's life on a deep level.
There a more than 40 million amputees worldwide, Easton told Good News Network. Sadly, only about five percent have access to prosthetic devices. He said that reality is just not acceptable and so he wants to do something about it.
His TED Talk was the turning point
In 2014, Life coach and best-selling author Tony Robbins took notice after watching Easton's TED Talk about 3D printing in animatronics. That lead to a partnership that would form Unlimited Tomorrow. Other big tech companies, including Microsoft, would later join to help the budding company make better devices. The company then raised $1.56 million and launched its first product.
One of his biggest projects was a prosthetic arm build for a young girl named Momo - a 9-year-old with a missing right arm from the elbow down. The robotic arm came with magnetics painted fingernails, muscle control, and finger strength of up to 10 pounds. The team then presented it to Momo and that emotional moment was captured on video.
LaChappelle and Robbins launched a crowd funding campaign in 2018 to raise $500,000. They intend to use the fund to manufacture customized devices to 100 adults and children. Then after that, scale the project to help more people needing affordable prosthetic devices.