Paul McCarthy’s dream was to improve the life of his 12 year old son Leon who was born without fingers. Paul estimated that a prosthetic hand would cost $20,000 to $30,000. He spent two years searching for affordable ways to make this happen until he discovered this YouTube Video about the Robohand developed by Ivan Owen and Richard Van As.
The video inspired Paul to download the free design and assembly instructions to create a Robohand for his son. Paul used a 3D printer that was at his son’s school to produce the parts of the hand. With a little trial and error, Paul, a videographer, was able to build a hand for his son to try. Soon, Leon was able to pick up a water bottle and a pencil as he demonstrated on this CBS News video.
What did it cost Paul for the 3-D printing and assembly of the prosthetic hand? “This thing cost us like 5 bucks, 10 bucks, whatever – it was nothing”, Paul McCarthy said.
Richard Van As dream was to find a way to return to carpentry after damaging his hand with a table saw. Without money for a prosthetic hand, he came across this YouTube video of a large mechanical hand from Ivan Owen. Owen, a special effects artist and puppeteer, demonstrated the big puppet hand that relies on thin steel cables to act like tendons. Richard, living in South Africa, was able to connect with Ivan, living in the United States via Skype to begin working together to develop a solution.
While working together, they received a call from the mother of a 5 year old boy named Liam who was born without a hand. Within 5 days, Richard and Ivan developed a crude mechanical hand for Liam with five aluminum fingers that opened and closed based on the movement of Liam’s wrist. MakerBot, a firm that makes 3-D printing equipment, provided Richard and Ivan a free 3-D printer to help them rapidly produce prototypes. The 3-D printer helped reduce the production time of one hand from a week to 20 minutes, enabling many iterations and refinements.
Liam’s mother, Leon’s father, Richard and Ivan each had dreams to address the same problem and unmet need, the availability of a low cost prosthesis. Each of their dreams had a mission that included enriching the lives of others. YouTube videos and the internet have become a way for people with similar dreams or big ideas to find each other and work together.
If you have a dream, big idea or breakthrough innovation, finding others with similar desires can help to make them happen. If the mission of your dream is to enrich the lives of others, share in online like Ivan and Richard did with Robohand.
To find others to connect dreams and big ideas with to combine forces, there are 5 common components that can other good possibilities:
Similar Aspirers: It could be Ivan and Richard working together on the solution. Liam’s mother and Leon’s father working together on the similar needs of their sons.
Similar Missions: All four had a similar theme to enrich people’s lives. The mission of Ivan and Richard included improving availability by enabling people to print their own prosthesis.
Similar Beneficiaries: Liam, Leon and potentially millions of others without use of their hands.
Similar Problem and Unmet Needs: Lack of low cost, effective hand prosthesis
Similar Solutions: Richard couldn’t find a solution, so he found a similar one. It was puppet hands developed by Ivan. The production of the prosthesis required many hours of skilled labor until they adapted it for 3-D printing making it easier to refine, produce and assemble. MakerBot gets great publicity demonstrating the power of 3-D printing from donated it to Richard and Ivan.
The net result of combining these dreams is 12 year old Leon telling his story that can warm your heart. “When I outgrow my hand, we can easily make a new one”.
If your mission is related to enriching lives of others, chances are there is someone similar to you trying to achieve something like it. They may be the source of knowledge, inspiration, or encouragement that could help you make almost anything happen.