If you think being a certain age is a requirement for inventing tech gadgets, these innovations below will prove you wrong. They are all engineered by young people, and after reading about these triumphs, you may decide although it is never too late to bring your own envisioned product to life, there is no reason to procrastinate any longer.

An AI App That Detects Eye Disease

3D Printed Lens

Diabetic retinopathy, or DR, occurs when blood vessels in the retina sustain progressive damage. It is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the world, and 16-year-old Kavya Kopparapu came up with an application to diagnose it that is as accurate as physicians. Kopparapu’s grandfather in India has DR, and that reality partially motivated her to create the app.

She says there are a lot of patients in India who could benefit from eye treatments, but only so many ophthalmologists. Kopparapu’s app is a screening tool called Eyeagnosis that uses a 3-D-printed lens in addition to intelligent programming.

With the help of her brother and a classmate, Kopparapu used 34,000 retinal scans and trained a neural network to recognize DR cases.

How does the app scan the eye without using huge, costly machinery?

The printed lens concentrates light from a smartphone camera flash on the back of the eye, indicating how today’s tech tools can deliver acceptable results without gigantic expenses.

A Device That Thins Firewood To Give Families Warmth Faster

Kindling Cracker

If you have ever been in a situation where a crackling fire was your only source of warmth, the moments before getting that heat source going probably seemed like torture, and after that, the fire felt blissfully comforting.

When she was only 13, New Zealander Ayla Hutchinson created a device that cuts down on the time it takes to make fires fruitful.
Specifically, Hutchinson knew how kindling could help get fires going faster than full-sized pieces of wood.

So, she applied her problem-solving, tech-oriented mindset to the common problem of fire-lighting delays and made a cylindrical, cast-iron device that slices large segments of wood into two sections.

All a user has to do is place a piece of pre-split wood inside the device and hit it with a hammer a couple of times. This invention brings high-tech evolution to campsites.

A Device That Uses Everyday Items to Check for Substance Abuse

Krishna Reddy Pupil Dialation

Law enforcement officers and health professionals are two groups of people who regularly study pupil dilation to determine if people have taken drugs or alcohol.

However, now, thanks to the resourceful attitude displayed by 13-year-old Texas resident Krishna Reddy, there is a way to check for dilated pupils without having that kind of job-acquired knowledge. The invention could reduce fatalities or injuries due to impaired driving.

Made with just a snakehead flashlight, toilet paper roll, and digital camera, the tool directs light from the flashlight into the eye with the help of the toilet paper tube, then the camera records an image of how the pupil reacted to the light.

Reddy also made a software program that measures the pupil’s response.

A Modifiable Mobility Aid That Helps With Stair Climbing

Modified Walker Adjustable Legs
Shalini Kumari. Bihar. Shalini’s grandfather uses a walker to assist him while he walks. But she noticed that he could only use the walker comfortably while walking on a level surface. Shalini came up with the idea of the modified walker with adjustable legs. She has also thought of including a folding seat so that the user can rest for a while when required and fitted a horn and a light to it as well. NIF licensed this technology to a company recently.

Stair climbing is one of the persistent challenges faced by ambulatory people who require mobility aids to walk. Shalini Kumari, a 19-year-old, was well aware that the designs of conventional, four-legged walkers don’t work well for providing consistent support while handing staircases.

However, the teen came up with the plans for a walker with adjustable legs that raise or lower as a person maneuvers up or down a set of stairs.

She says the walker works for all stair heights, and it’s useful for helping people move on inclines, too.

A Lead-Detecting Gadget For Water

Gitanjali Rao

Sometimes, it’s social consciousness that spurs young people to take action.

That was the case with Gitanjali Rao, an 11-year-old from Colorado who followed the water pollution crisis in Flint, Michigan for a couple of years before deciding she had to do something about it. Rao also noticed people in her household testing the water and wasn’t satisfied with the time-consuming nature of the process.

To channel her outrage over how Flint’s residents didn’t have clean water to drink, Rao convinced local high school representatives to give her time to carry out research equipped science labs and won over her parents who set aside an area at home where she could work.

Eventually, she came up with a three-part device that confirms the presence of lead in water.

It’s comprised of a cartridge, signal processor with Bluetooth compatibility and a smartphone app.

The cartridge has carbon nanotubes inside that detect changes in electron flow. If a person inserts a cartridge into clean water, the activity of the electrons stays the same.

However, in the case of water contaminated with lead, the harmful substance causes resistance in the electron flow, and the complementing smartphone app warns the water is not safe to drink.

If you’ve felt a little discouraged about the future of tech lately, these examples show that’s a bit unfounded. The pioneering insights of the young people profiled above gave us inventions that keep us safer and healthier, plus even make our camping trips more productive when we’re tasked with the daunting task of getting a fire started. Technology is always changing constantly. You may have an idea for a solution to a problem, but may be afraid of the many hurdles involved with bringing a concept to life. It’s never too late to make a difference, and sometimes half the battle is just taking that first step.

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Kate Harveston
Kate Harveston is a freelance writer from Pennsylvania. She mainly writes about legal issues and the political realm, but her work has covered a wide range of topics. If you like her writing, you can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her blog,