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Teenager Goes from Bitcoin Bad Boy to Robotics Hero

Instead of provoking people, a suit modeled after comics villain Dr. Octopus could help millions.

Erik Finman is not your typical 19-year-old. 

When he was 12, he took a $1,000 gift from his grandma and, instead of buying a new bike or stashing it in a savings account, invested in bitcoin while the cryptocurrency was still in its infancy. 

He turned that $1,000 investment in $3.3 million, which led to some questionable, but not surprising behavior; like ditching school, doing some traveling and posting pics and comments on social media that created a public persona which Digital Trends recently described as equal parts Elon Musk, gangster rap cliché, and Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli.

Apparently not everyone appreciates a teenage millionaire bragging about chartered jets and offering pics of sleeping in a bed covered in cash. But recently, something changed with Finman.

Instead of provoking people, he’s more interested in helping them. His latest project has involved using some of those funds and notoriety to create a robotic suit modeled after the comic book villain Dr. Octopus.

The four-armed robotic appendages are controlled via rear-mounted microcontrollers and eight motors that provide power, and allow the user to lift objects. This is a big deal for someone with hypermobility issues like 10-year-old Aristou Meehan, the child of one of Finman’s mentors and the inspiration for the 3D-printed Doc Oc attachment.

Hypermobility translates to loose joints that can’t provide the strength or stamina needed for performing everyday tasks without pain, or the potential for serious injury.

Meehan can control the mechanical arms by placing his hands into gloves connected to the unit, and using his two middle fingers to manipulate the four arms. He recently showed the suit off at ComicCon. 

Aside from making Meehan the coolest 10-year-old on the planet, Finman doesn’t have a specific application in mind for the suit, but sees a number of possibilities. Recognizing that he might not have all the answers, he’s also planning on open-sourcing the design in the near future.

At one point a frustrated teacher advised Finman to forget about higher education and embrace a job in fast food. It looks like there’s at least one 10-year-old who’s glad he put that career option on hold.

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