The story of Easton LaChappelle isn’t just inspiring but has the potential to change the entire world. The young man learned electronics, software development, and robotics from YouTube videos and then used those skills to create affordable 3D prosthetics for amputees.
Easton said in an interview with CNN that he’s always had a passion for electronics and for finding out how things work. Because his school had a limited budget, however, he was forced to look elsewhere to pursue his passion. This lead him to YouTube to look for guides and experiments to further his understanding of electronics, reading sensors, and even software interfaces.
After years of hard work, Easton eventually developed several cool personal projects and earned himself a trip to the White House Science Fair in 2013 where he also met with the then-president Barrack Obama.
Funnily enough, meeting the President wasn’t the most important encounter for Easton during his stay at the Science Fair. While he was there he also met a young girl with a prosthetic arm. He got to talking with her and was astonished to find out that not only did the arm looked “archaic” with its simple grappling mechanism and uncomfortable design but it also cost the girl an unbelievable $80,000!
Easton remembers thinking “is this really her best available option?” “I was shocked to learn how much it costs, especially realizing that she would soon outgrow it and it would become useless at that point,” Easton said. “I couldn’t believe this was the best thing available for her, and that’s when I decided to find out how I can create something that provides physical utility.”
More than that, Easton also said he was driven to not only create something better but something more affordable as well.
“That’s when I decided to dedicate my life to solving the affordability of prosthetic devices and creating technology that can impact someone’s life on a deep level.
There are over 40 million amputees worldwide, and only about 5% of them have access to prosthetic devices. It was just not acceptable to me and I wanted to do something about it.”
Hard at work, Easton eventually managed to develop a crude but operational prototype with complex electronics and five working fingers, including an opposable thumb. Not just that, but he also founded the company Unlimited Tomorrow in 2014 and through it raised $1,568M in just 30 days.
With that influx of cash, Easton and his colleagues from Unlimited Tomorrow managed to drastically improve his initial prototypes in every aspect – functionality, look & feel, as well as price.
“We make a product called TrueLimb,” says Easton, “an affordable, 3D-printed prosthetic limb that uses a special remote-fitting process that is personalized to your skin tone, shape, and size for the perfect fit.”
The price announced on the company’s website at the moment is just $7,995 or a $259 monthly payment plan. This makes TrueLimb 10 times more affordable than the simple prosthetic used by the girl Easton encountered.
More than just affordable, the TrueLimb prosthetic also has custom-designed comfortable, breathable, and adjustable sockets, a multi-grip functionality and individual finger control, and a multi-day battery life. It can also come in a variety of skin colors.
“Because of YouTube,” he continued, “I was able to turn my passion into a business that is having a positive impact on people’s lives.”
Easton’s story was quickly but beautifully summarized in the YouTube video below.
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