Featuring Young Biotechnology Leaders: Easton LaChappelle

Young CEO and Founder of Unlimited Tomorrow

Designs personalized prosthetics with 3D printing


Christina Hsing, Ellen Tan


Since 1999, the United Nations has deemed August 12th to be International Youth Day for the purpose of raising awareness of youth issues and topics globally. Nowadays, society has paid a higher level of attention to the youth and young adults community, fostering their rights and benefits so that they can bring in innovation, creativity, and vitality. Many young leaders are making an impact on the world, especially in Healthcare.


The Boy Who Loves to Build

In a small town in Colorado, a fourteen-year-old teenager was building his first robotic hand in his bedroom. You could see him wearing a glove that can wirelessly control the robotic hand, which he made with objects that were easily accessible for his age - simple motors from R.C. airplanes, electrical tubing, fishing line, electric tape, and LEGOs. Ever since Easton LaChappelle was a little boy, he loved taking apart everything, just to see how things work and to fulfill that curiosity he had. Who would have thought one day that this little boy will change many lives of amputees and prosthetics users.


From Robotic Arm to Prosthetic Limb

Easton had put huge effort and lots of time to build his ideal robotic hand. He searched on the internet and watched online videos to learn how to code, how to put the pieces together, and how to make them work. However, Easton was never satisfied with his own work. He was determined to make improvements. With the help of 3D printing, he was able to make the prototypes quicker and much cheaper.


In 2012, Easton submitted his reformed robotic arm to the International Science and Engineering Fair and got awarded second place. Despite the glamorous prize, Easton had encountered someone that led him to the field of prosthetics during the science fair - a seven-year-old little girl. Easton recalled that this little girl was carefully examining the details of his robotic arm. At the same time, Easton noticed that this little girl was wearing a prosthetic limb, which was claw-like and could only do one motion. According to the little girl's parents, her prosthetic limb cost around $80,000 USD, and that immediately made Easton realize something - "I could take what I was doing and transfer that directly into prosthetics to make life more enjoyable for amputees and other prosthetic users" said Easton on Ted Talks.


The Founding of Unlimited Tomorrow

After Easton made his appearance on Ted Talks and Popular Science Magazine, more and more people started to notice his work and ambition. In 2013, NASA reached out to Easton and offered him an intern position. Easton spent the summer in Houston to participate in one of NASA's projects - the Robonaut Project. Shortly after that, Tony Robbins connected with Easton as he was inspired by Easton's speech. Together, they partnered and launched a company called Unlimited Tomorrow, where Easton and his team proceed with the mission of providing personalized, cheaper, aesthetic, more functional prostheses for people in need. Easton was seventeen years old when he became the CEO. Last year, Easton got nominated on Forbes 30 under 30.


Unlimited Tomorrow collaborated with Microsoft, using scanning and 3D printing to design and create a customized prosthetic arm for a nine-year-old girl named Momo in 2017.
"Curiosity is in every part of us, and it's what makes the world go around, and that's why we're here today. So I challenge you to challenge the system, to look beyond all the boundaries and to be curious." - Easton LaChappelle

Like Easton has mentioned, curiosity has driven him to where he is right now and he will continue to elevate the lives of amputees and prosthetic users.


While celebrating International Youth Day, let us all keep the spark of curiosity and be inspired by the world and people!




References:


Elkins, Kathleen. “Meet the 23-Year-Old Inventor Tony ROBBINS Calls 'the next Elon Musk'.” CNBC, CNBC, 5 Dec. 2018, www.cnbc.com/2018/12/05/tony-robbins-23-year-old-easton-lachappelle-is-the-next-elon-musk.html.


Microsoft In Culture. “Meet Robotic ARM Inventor Easton Lachappelle.” Microsoft In Culture, 22 Oct. 2020, inculture.microsoft.com/people-who-inspire/easton/.


TEDxTalks, director. 3D Printing in Animatronics: Easton LaChappelle at TEDxMileHigh. YouTube, YouTube, 15 July 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfmNXPMjChs.


“Unlimited Tomorrow.” Unlimited Tomorrow, 18 Aug. 2021, www.unlimitedtomorrow.com/.