June 20, 2017 A 9-Year-Old Girl Invented a Wearable to Fight Childhood Obesity
Move over, Fitbit — there’s a new wearable in town. Last month, nine-year-old Andie Nugent won the 1st place Topcoder Disruptive Technology Award at the Young Inventors NH Regional Invention Convention with “The Kazi,” a wearable designed to fight childhood obesity. Earlier this month, Andie represented New Hampshire at the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo (NICEE) in Washington, D.C. There she earned the 1st place award for grades 3 and 4, and 1st place in the Technology/Wearables category for grades K-12. These competitions are particularly close to our hearts at Topcoder; many of us got our start in technology at a young age.
The Kazi, a first-of-its-kind wearable
“The Kazi, which is Swahili for ‘active,’ makes kids earn screen time by being more active,” Andie explains. “When I discovered that childhood obesity has tripled over the past three decades and kids ages 5-10 spend an average of six hours a day on screens, I wanted to invent something to help kids and parents create a balance between media use and physical fitness.” Andie’s amazing wristband allows kids to earn screen time through tracked physical activity. As a child exercises, a piece of a code appears. Once they’ve reached a certain activity level and earned the complete code, they can enter it into their connected home media devices to gain access to their television, tablet, etc.
One thing that sets The Kazi apart from other kid-friendly fitness trackers is the cardio component. Kids can’t simply swing their arm back and forth to quickly earn portions of code; they have to get their heart rate up. Though not (yet) in production, The Kazi also accounts for multiple users (i.e., multiple kids in a single family), comes in multiple colors, and glows in the dark for nighttime use. And if a child is injured or unable to participate in regular cardio activities, parents can lower the activity level required to earn portions of code. So while The Kazi certainly isn’t the first fitness-focused wearable, its look, feel, and reward system presents a wholly unique package. See Andie explain her invention below:
The role of inclusion in technology
Grade school competitions in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) enable inventive kids like Andie to bring their creations to a wider audience. Topcoder is an obvious fit for such invention competitions, with a focus on pioneering technologies and empowering young people in technology — from Andie’s age and beyond. As our technologies evolve, encouraging and including young women in technology has become more important than ever before. “We need diversity in thought,” says Mike Morris, Topcoder CEO. “If we don’t include women in technology, we miss out on new ways of thinking.”
Many members of the Topcoder Community of 1.1M+ developers, data scientists, and designers around the world are women. And much like Andie, these women have advanced in STEM by executing on their ideas in a competition setting. At Topcoder, technical innovation and solutions are what count — not gender. (We don’t even require members to check “male” or “female” upon sign-up.) Over the years, our women members have not only raised the bar for tech talent and newcomers like Andie; they’ve also helped Topcoder pave the way for the rest of the tech community.