Putting heart into robotics: Easton LaChappelle
Curiosity led young inventor Easton LaChappelle to dedicate six years creating accessible artificial limb technology that may eventually change the lives of people around the world – and it all started with one young girl.
When Easton LaChappelle submitted a robotic arm for his 8th grade science fair, he wasn’t expecting it to turn into something so much bigger. But on that day, after meeting a little girl whose basic prosthetic arm had cost her family more than $80,000, he found his purpose. Ever since, he’s worked with determination and Microsoft tools to create affordable and exceptional robotic technology that could go on to benefit people in need of artificial limbs, as well as building the business to make it all happen.
See Easton’s full story starting with episode 1.
“It’s my mission to use technology to make prosthetics more accessible to those who need them.”
– Easton LaChappelle
Easton spent time at the Microsoft headquarters in Seattle, working with onsite engineers to add the finishing touches to the arm that would be given to his very first client and biggest inspiration – a ten-year-old girl named Momo.
Momo is a keen swimmer and budding artist from Florida who was born without a right forearm and hand. She once told Easton her biggest dream was to have a hand where all the fingers moved. With her feet firmly on the ground, Momo recognizes the importance of who she is, reminding us that “having two arms and two hands does not change my personality.”
Though technology is behind each and every aspect of the story – from building and soldering, to scanning, sizing and printing – the heart of the work always led back to Momo.
“I feel pretty special that, out of the millions, I was chosen to be the first in the world to get this.”
Momo got her dream of an arm with fingers that move, and Easton got even closer to helping “tens of thousands of Momos around the world.”
Together at last: Easton and Momo met at the Microsoft Redmond campus, where those who'd been involved along the way watched Easton’s work come to life.
"A huge overlying factor in everything I do is curiosity. If you can use curiosity as a tool, you can really unlock some amazing things." – Easton LaChappelle
“I just gave everyone high-fives, right down the line – that’s my favorite thing so far!” – Momo
For Momo, her family, and everybody involved, the day she received her arm was one never to be forgotten. There were tears shed, countless high fives, fist bumps, hugs, and smiles. From here, Easton’s goal is to make this technology, and these simple and life-changing moments, available to others like Momo.
“Imagine the small girl that receives this prosthetic. How is that going to change her life? How is that going to change her parents’ life? Everything has been building up to this point.”
– Easton LaChappelle