Easton LaChappelle (@EastonLaChappel) is 17 years old and is an inventor. At the age of 14 he decided to make a robotic hand out of Lego. It was little more than a game, but it worked. Soon afterwards, the young inventor realised that he could dare to go even further. So, with the help of a friend and a 3D printer he built a functioning 3D prosthetic arm. At that point, it stopped being a game.
As he says in his talk on TEDxMileHigh, Easton was strongly impacted by the story of a 7 year old girl who wore an 80,000 dollar industrial prosthesis. And the thought that, growing up, the child would soon have to replace it. The inventor realised that his robotic arm could help her family to get over the shock, including in a financial sense. Definitely, because the young Colorado inventor’s model costs just 400 dollars.
Easton’s prosthesis is equipped with an Arduino single-board microcontroller capable of managing movement and regulating a sensory pressure system which imitates a basic but effective sense of touch. In a nutshell, the arm can tighten its grip on objects without crushing them.
In addition, the cost of the project also includes a simple brain channel reader able to communicate with the prosthesis through bluetooth. A great solution to eliminate the cumbersome presence of wires and make the person who has lost their limb. In short, Easton’s idea has had such success that it has catapulted him directly to NASA, where is now working on the Robonaut project.
What started as a game for Easton to alleviate his boredom has become a kind of mission: to help people and improve their lives. And the young inventor is managing to do just that. Whether on Earth or in space, it doesn’t matter.
Below is a video of the prototype of Easton’s animatronic hand controlled through a glove.