Losing body parts like legs, arms, or hands could be the most terrifying scenario that might happen to us. Imagine how hard it is when you have no limbs, not only you’ll suffer from everyday work but also from emotional stress.
Nowadays there’s a so-called advanced prosthetic limbs that could help people with amputees and disabilities, but the price is quite high. An average prosthetic limbs cost $60,000, no wonder why many people can’t afford it. But there’s one good Samaritan that might change the future of robotic prosthetic limbs for the better.
Some of you may have heard about this 19-year-old teen named Easton LaChappelle, a robotic enthusiastic from Colorado that found a cheaper prosthetic limb alternative.
At age 14, Easton came up with an idea to build a robotic hand out of Lego bricks, fishing wire and servos. At the time he knew next to nothing about electronics, but learned himself electronics and modeling software through online sites. His first version of robotic hands earned him third place at the Colorado State Science Fair in 2011.
It was there that he met a 7-year old girl who was born without a right arm, wearing an astounding $80,000 prosthetic limb. That moment Easton was convinced to design and build a better and inexpensive alternative.
The second version of the hand grew into an arm. Using an open source hand from Thingiverse and help of a Makerbot 3D printer, LaChappelle was able to upgrade his animatronic gripper to a functional robotic arm with more 3D printed parts.
Soon he had designed the third version of his robotic limb which only cost around $250. That project earned him an invitation to the third annual White House Science Fair, where he presented the arm to US president Barack Obama.
Easton continued his work and built more capable robotic arm than the last. This version of the prosthetic is controlled using an EEG headband that measures brainwaves and it merely costs less than $500. Later he was invited to show his arm at a TED conference.
LaChappelle is currently perfecting the new arm but he hasn’t forgotten his goals – to create an affordable prosthetic for everyday use. Now he decided to make his work “open source” free for anyone to use, refine, and repurpose. He’s not just creating one thing, but he’s giving everyone the ability to be their own engineer and redefine the world of prosthetic limbs, that will change a lot of people’s lives.