A 19-year-old has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $10,000 (£6,600) towards developing prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by the brain.
Easton LaChappelle was inspired by a 7-year-old whose prosthetic arm cost $80,000 (£52,900) with a limited lifespan (it had to be replaced as her body grew) and decided to make something much more intelligent and lower-cost. He presented her with an alternative prosthetic arm that cost him just $400 (£260) to create, making it a much more viable option for a child who is still growing at a fast rate.
Just a year ago, LaChappelle founded Unlimited Tomorrow, a company that specialises in developing exoskeletons for paraplegics (now going through the patent and US FDA approval processes) and other body parts that could significantly improve quality of life for those with disabilities.
Unlimited Tomorrow is also developing a open-source robotic arms that can be used with prosthetics, linking them to a STEM learning platform. Using 3D printing to produce the parts makes it a much cheaper alternative than other solutions and available to a wider number of people.
The arm can be controlled by an EEG-capable headset, sensing 10 different channels of brainwaves that communicate to the moving parts to carry out basic functions. It’s also stronger than a human arm, with the hand so strong, “it’s dangerous,” LaChapelle explains.
He wrote on the crowdfunding page: “I am raising money to expand our resources which includes more 3d printers, material development, manpower, and testing equipment. This will all help contribute to getting this technology to the people who really need it. We will be keep this process personal and highlight individuals along the way.”
Unlimited Tomorrow is looking to raise $10,000 (£6,600), although 26 people have already donated $2191 (£1,400) in the first four days of the campaign.