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Easton LaChappelle TEDx Talk
By the age of 17 I’d led my team to cup glory and had a statue of myself erected outside said team’s stadium. Unfortunately this was in the realms of a video game, by 17 I’d barely thought about what I wanted to do with my future let alone actually made anything in the pysical world. This is why I gawp in awe at the achievements of Easton LaChappelle, a 17-year-old man who isn’t ‘going places’ because he’s already been places and got the T-shirt.
Currently working at NASA, yeah that two-bit startup, working on their Robonaut development project he has found time in his schedule to do a TEDx Talk on the project that propelled him to such lofty places, a 3D printed robotic arm.
In this TEDx Talk he discusses how one day he woke up bored in his hometown and decided to start making a robotic arm using wireless sensors. Not your average 14-year-old then.
After realising he couldn’t afford the $500 he was being quoted for a prototype he called a friend in New York who happened to own a 3D Printer. He paid for the shipping costs he was sent his first draft. Though it was far from perfect it only inspired him to carry on with his mission.
He got himself a 3D printer and things rapidly improved, the arm started to take shape and just one year down the road he was to go on and win second place in the WORLD for engineering at the 2012 International Science Fair. This is all before his 16th birthday.
At that show he met a young girl with a prosthetic limb with just one sensor, it cost her parents $80,000, and due to the fact she’ll grow she’ll probably need another two or three of those in her life time. Easton’s arm cost just $500 to put together and it has infinite more capabilities than the 80k arm. This was his eureka moment, he knows there’s a huge gap in the market and that people in need are being fleeced. He is setting out to change all that.
His robotic arm, like the once showcased by MakerBot is open-source and available to anyone to have a go at improving or tailoring to his or her own specific needs. Easton has been toiling away in his bedroom on the arm for three years, making improvements all the time, using techniques he’s learnt like the process of making the parts of the arm smooth by using acetone vapour, he is tireless.
For all of that he gets a standing ovation from the TEDx auidience and rightly so, what’s next? Well, not content with mimicking a human arm he fancies mimicking the Six Million Dollar Man’s arm as his current arm has ‘super human strength’. Super human seems an apt way to describe this 17-year-old.