A 15-year-old entrepreneur has spent the lockdown months developing a pioneering new invention that could help limit transmission of Covid-19 and save lives.
It was when his parents were struck down with coronavirus in March that Max Melia started working in earnest on his idea for VybPro, an intelligent wristband that vibrates to alert wearers every time they are about to subconsciously touch their face.
The Fishponds teenager and his mum, Natalie, first came up with the concept two years ago as a way of reducing the spread of flu and cold, but Max soon saw the potential to put it to use when the pandemic hit and devoted all of his spare time to developing the prototype, enlisting the help of a product design team to help.
Worn on both wrists, the patent-pending VybPro works by recognising gestures that are associated with hand movements towards the face. It combines position-sending technology with intelligent algorithms to distinguish between predicted face touching and other hand motions.
Max, working with the design team, is ready to turn his vision into a reality and launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the £60,000 needed to get the device on the wrists of those who need it most.
“Watching this pandemic unfold on the news, it was clear the devastating effect it was having on people lives’ across the world – however it wasn’t until I saw the severity of the virus first-hand, when my parents both contracted Covid-19, did I truly appreciate just what we were dealing with,” says the tech-savvy entrepreneur, who is still in fulltime education.
“We came up with the concept a few years ago when my family were repeatedly catching cold and flu viruses from travelling in and out of London and I could see how easy it was to pick up germs – especially from using public transport. It was only when the World Health Organisation began urging people to avoid touching their eyes, nose and face to stop the spread of the virus from contaminated surfaces, did I realise that it could make a real difference in slowing the transmission of coronavirus.
“With the assistance and technical expertise of the product design team I’ve now developed and tested a working prototype that uses intelligent algorithms, which I think has the potential to become part of people’s ‘new normal’.
“The main priority of this project is not to make money but to get it onto the wrists of those it can help keep safe. Any profits made from early sales via the crowdfunding site will be reinvested into providing free devices to organisations that help people such as NHS staff and nursing homes.
“I believe that this device can make a real difference in the fight against coronavirus and I’m determined to do all that I can to bring it to market. I really hope that the general public can see the potential and are inspired to get behind the campaign to fund the next stage of the development.”
The VybPro is designed and manufactured in the UK and will retail from around £89.99 for a pair of wristbands.
Available in a choice of two colours, it is made from waterproof silicon, is splash resistant and rechargeable. It can easily be turned off when eating and drinking.
For more information or to support the crowdfunding campaign visit www.vybpro.com.
All photos courtesy of Max Melia/VybPro