Video: Teenage NASA Employee Creates Mind-Control Bionic Arm

Biohacking Robotics Science Technology
Video: Teenage NASA Employee Creates Mind-Control Bionic Arm


It’s always great to hear about young people doing good things for humanity. Easton LaChappelle not only blows my mind but is a huge inspiration. The 19 year old recently accepted a job with NASA after creating a 3D printed prosthetic arm that is controlled by your mind.

LaChappelle become interested in robotics and technology at age 14. (Yes, you’re reading that right.) Noticing the high prices of prosthetics and the lack of technological advancement, he set out to create an affordable prosthetic arm for under $1,000. Working out of his home in a small town in Colorado, he taught himself 3D printing, robotics, and programming. It seems that nothing stands in his way with a goal! He has released the design for his current prototype (made for about $400) as open source, opening many doors to advancements in prosthetics and robotics.

LaChappelle is the subject of the first video in a series called Luminaries on UPROXX about some of the most influential individuals in science and technology.


You can also watch his TED Talk.

YouTube player

Easton LaChappelle is a prime example of how wonderful the world of making is and how one person can inspire a movement.

2 thoughts on “Video: Teenage NASA Employee Creates Mind-Control Bionic Arm

  1. Greg says:

    Skynet becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th,1997

  2. Charlie says:

    Reblogged this on Charlie Gerard and commented:
    This is just amazing..

  3. Alexander_Tron says:

    What a gentlemen.

  4. Daniel Catalano says:

    Amazing how did he afford a 3d printer at 14 I still cant get one :D. What I don’t understand is how do you translate your brain waves into movement? I understand that you can get brainwaves close to the scalp, but when I was learning about that it was different areas of the brain generated alpha, beta, theta, and delta waves. I remember concentrating to make a plane move, but it was based on individual waves and just reducing them through bio feedback. That is the part I want to know more about, hands free control would make for quite a quick response time for more then prosthetic. If I could use my computer by thought alone things would get a lot faster, or a Google glass. Farther into the future a swarm of nano bots.

    1. dumb folk says:

      I think when he started out, he couldn’t afford one for himself. That’s why he was using cut up electrical tubing and Legos.

      He got a guy he ‘met’ on the internet in one of the maker forums to print some parts for him. FYI Daniel…A 3D printer ‘kit’ to build your own 3D printer can be had for less than $500. My 14 year-old is excitedly saving his pennies but I plan to buy him a kit for his birthday next week.

      This young man and my kid are inspiring when you consider the ‘technology’ program at my kid’s school consists of keyboarding (aka typing), using word processor/spreadsheet and building lame web sites using Weebly.

      This summer my son built a robot which finds and fetches tennis balls from our lawn using imaging and sonar. It’s frustrating that our school system wants to buy iPads for all the students but the ‘computer teacher’ doesn’t know what Linux is. He got a C in her technology because he doesn’t type fast enough using proper keyboarding technique. Color me frustrated…

      There are tons of resources out there which can be found simply by looking. For example, I Googled EEG sensor and found this…

      I also discovered an EEG code library exists for use with the Arduino platform.

      1. Daniel Catalano says:

        Thank you for the links I was curious how he translated the brain waves into motion. Also I am working on an arduino project, where did your son get the imaging for fetching? Not everyone is good at school, you sound like a great supporter of your children. Personally I did not do good in school till college, and I loved being on my computer. I do remember being discouraged about being on computers. It will be interesting to see what happens in a generation that embraces technology. Also there is a make magazine with a details about how not all 3D printers are equal.

        1. dumb folk says:

          He tried a couple of different things and ended up using a CMUcam robot vision system. It has to be watching the yard to find and fetch the ball. It detects changes in the scene it’s scanning and sets a heading for the object that wasn’t there moments before. It also knows to look for the color of the tennis ball. He worked diligently on refining the robot and code so it doesn’t visit all the dandelions in the lawn or chase the dog before fetching the tennis ball.

          1. Daniel Catalano says:

            Thank you for all your help, good to get some direction.

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