Easton LaChappelle is the creator of a robotic hand he spent six years researching as an alternative to advanced prostheses that can cost upwards of $100,000. He is the founder of Unlimited Tomorrow, whose mission is, “to make technology accessible to those who need it most.”
LaChappelle stumbled upon the discovery of the financial burden for replacing prosthetic limbs for growing children every year. Not to mention, the functionality of some prosthetic limbs can be limited, especially for young people that want to participate in new activities such as swimming, riding bikes, and writing.
He set out to develop a device that would be functional and affordable while working with amputees to understand what would help the most.
That is when he met ten-year-old Momo Sutton, who’s right arm ends just below her elbow, where the bones are fused together. She waited years for a prosthetic arm with functional, moving fingers. Zachary Hurst, president of the nonprofit M.U.C.H. Foundation met Momo and set about connecting her with LaChappelle to help make her dreams come true.
LaChappelle had put off college and invested six years of his young life into researching, making and testing robotic hands, leading to the point where he was able to scan Momo’s left arm and 3D-print a working replica for her to use on the right side, complete with matching fingernails.
His efforts intrigued a team at Microsoft, which set him up with a group of 20 engineers to help him realize his vision. He is now putting his software online, giving amputees an affordable and high-tech alternative to traditional, costly prostheses.
Read the entire story on Microsoft News Center.