RAISING AN ARM-Y
Mancos, CO, was far from a teenager’s paradise. With little to do, Easton turned to the internet to feed his interest in robotics and quickly started tinkering with the idea of building a robotic arm. Little did he know, his new hobby would eventually propel him to worldwide fame.
At only 14, utilizing the power of a global community (via the limited dial-up connection at his parent’s home in rural Colorado), Easton turned to open-source technology to help him build his first wirelessly controlled robotic arm. It was no small feat, but after a few months of tinkering, numerous modifications, a lot of legos, electrical tape, and endless trial and error testing, he succeeded! But, not one to ride on the coattails of his own laurels, Easton knew he could make something even better.
Still reveling in the excitement of success, he went back to the drawing board. He was confident he could create a more human-looking arm with an opposable thumb and greater dexterity. It’s at this juncture, he turned to 3D printing to help him achieve his new vision. And, that’s almost where the story ended.
At the time, 3D printing was a relatively new and expensive technology. Easton, although eager, wasn’t a wealthy kid. But, once again, the internet saved the day! After connecting with an employee at MakerBot, the company, impressed by Easton’s drive and ambition, offered to print the arm for free!
INTERACTION AT THE SCIENCE FAIR
It did not take Easton long to bring his re-envisioned masterpiece to life. Using all his charm, he persuaded his parents to split the cost of a small, home 3D printer. With a new printer at his disposal, Easton quickly set about turning his bedroom into a 24-hour production lab.
After a few more tweaks, Easton entered his third-generation hand into the Science Fair. It was here, at the Colorado State Science Fair, Easton’s conversation with a small girl and her parents altered the course of his life. After speaking with her parents, he learned that the girl was wearing an $80,000 prosthetic arm, which, despite the price tag, wasn’t the most user-friendly device. Easton was not impressed by the technology or overall design and wondered if he could apply his own technology to create something truly amazing.
Easton’s arm went on to take 2nd place in engineering at the International Science Fair that same year and, the buzz created around it swung open the doors to endless possibilities. But, more importantly, the conversation with that small girl made Easton reimagine the application of the technology.
The science fair was more than just an academic win for Easton. It pushed him into the international spotlight. Between an internship with N.A.S.A., invitations to speak internationally (including a noted featured position as a presenter for a TedTalk conference), Easton’s life was far from boring. But, Easton still had even bigger ambitions!
All Easton’s previous designs had all relied on a wireless glove for control. Now, he set his sights even higher and focused on the creation of a robotic arm that could be manipulated using the power of brainwaves. This was the first prosthetic centered design and was much more ergonomic and human-like. And, it would be this new device that would go on to be the first robotic arm to shake hands with President Barack Obama.
2014 – 2016
TONY TAKES NOTE
He may have started out as a quiet teenager from Middle America but, by 2014, the world had taken note of Easton LaChappelle. One man, in particular, made it his mission to learn more about this extraordinary young talent. At only 17, Easton had caught the attention of motivational guru, Tony Robbins. Tony had made a living out of helping others further their interpersonal and business success through his world-renowned motivational techniques. So, it only took one conversation with Easton for Robbins to realize the exceptional nature of this young man. Eager to see Easton achieve his dreams, he offered to become Easton’s mentor and business partner. Driven by excitement and anticipation for the future application of Easton’s technology, on February 12, 2014, Easton and Tony formed Unlimited Tomorrow…