It’s safe to say, the future looks bright!
Over the last couple of years, the Maker Movement has ushered in a new wave of low-cost hardware that enables anyone of any age and skill level to begin tinkering. Easy-to-use boards like the Arduino continue to lower the barriers to entry, while simplifying the prototyping process. Ultimately, this allows kids to explore basic electronics, learn coding, pursue STEM-related disciplines, and in some cases, even start their own business.
Here are a few young Makers from 2015 that prove age is just a number when it comes to innovation…
Omkar Govil-Nair (O Watch)
Do you recall what you were doing back in the summer of fourth grade? Chances are you weren’t creating a programmable, SAM D21-based smartwatch like eight-year-old Omkar Govil-Nair, let alone launching a successful crowdfunding campaign.
Quin Etnyre (Qtechknow)
Quin Etnyre already has quite the resume for a 15-year-old. After discovering his passion for tech, the self-taught whiz-kid has created his own company Qtechknow, taught classes at MIT, been invited to the White House and garnered over $40,000 on Kickstarter all within three years. Most recently, he introduced a tiny Arduino-compatible board complete with a built-in battery charger and fuel gauge.
Jordan Fung (Pedosa Glass)
What do you do when you’re a 13-year-old app developer who doesn’t have the money to shell out for a new pair of Google Glass? You build your own, of course! Hong Kong resident Jordan Fung devised a smart glasses attachment powered by an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) that shows him data and control information via a tiny FLCoS display.
Shubham Banerjee (Braigo Labs)
Eighth grader Shubham Banerjee constructed a braille printer entirely out of LEGO as a way to improve access and literacy for the visually impaired. More impressively, his startup Braigo Labs received venture capital funding from Intel late last year.
John Wall (WΛLLTΞCH)
17-year-old John Wall loves crafting his own open source wearable gadgetry. From OLED watches to Bluetooth/NFC bone-conduction audio headsets, the future Stanford grad has done it all.
Chase Freedman (Brick Sound Kit)
“What if there was a way to record our own sounds and play them back whenever we flew our LEGO spaceship?” This was the simple question that prompted eight-year-old Chase Freedman to explore his imagination and develop an attachable, Arduino-friendly device that lets kids record or download sounds to enhance their playtime experience.
Sahar Khashayar (Wildfire Warning System)
Jimmy Fallon welcomed 14-year-old Sahar Khashayar onto his show earlier this year. The ninth grade student had the chance to demonstrate her inexpensive device capable of detecting wildfires (and house fires, too) and sending a text alert to emergency personnel before flames rage out of control.
Nick Anglin (Strikey Sensors)
During a Maker Camp last summer, 13-year-old Nick Anglin noticed that there was a void in the market for Little Leaguers looking to learn how to pitch accurately. Whereas most middle schoolers would simply draw a rectangular box out of chalk on a brick or concrete wall and then proceed to throw the ball at the makeshift strike zone, this Maker decided to take a much more high-tech route with the help of lasers and Arduino.
Nilay Mehta (Low-Cost Robotic Arm)
With the help of 3D printing and Arduino, Nilay Mehta was able to build an inexpensive, voice-controlled robotic arm. The Irvine, California high school student programmed the unit to mimic the movements of an actual human hand, such as pinching, grabbing or holding a utensil. Using voice commands through a two prong microphone attached to the limb, the arm can carry out specific actions at the request of its wearer.
Aidan Fay (Cockpit Simulator)
What do you do if you’re a 17-year-old whose aspirations of flying an airplane have been grounded by the FAA due to a pre-existing medical condition? Having been interested in aviation for quite some time and still determined to one day earn his Class 3 pilot’s license, Aidan Fay decided to design a full-scale Cessna 172 simulator right in his bedroom. And unlike other computer programs and video games available today, the San Diego-based Maker wanted a system that would take his training to whole new heights. His life-size cockpit includes everything from pedals that control actual airplane rudders and brakes, to a steering yoke, to an Oculus Rift running Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D software for a truly immersive experience.
Emmett White (PineDuino)
As seen at the Westport Maker Faire, second grader Emmett White came up with a Pinewood Derby car that uses an Arduino Nano, an accelerometer and an LED display to collect and display information as it travels.
Guillaume Rolland (SensorWake)
Wake up and smell the coffee, literally. This is what Guillaume Rolland, an 18-year-old French entrepreneur, set out to accomplish with the world’s first olfactory alarm clock. The unit awakens its user with a scent rather than an abrupt audio alarm.