Indian Trail teen’s invention takes first place in national competition
INDIAN TRAIL – Greyson McCluskey’s motto has always been “be safe.” But little did the 15-year-old Metrolina Christian Academy sophomore know his passion for safety would earn the first place prize in a nationwide “awesome idea” contest.
Grey’s invention, called The Baby Safe Rider, was one of four ideas chosen from over 1,100 entries to enter the finalist round of the national “Wouldn’t It Be Cool If…” competition.
The contest, presented by Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds and artist will.i.am’s i.am.FIRST organization, challenged kids ages 10 to 15 to dream up a cool invention, using math and science, that would make the world “more awesome.” As the winner of the contest, Grey will work with renowned innovation consulting firm Fahrenheit 212 to create, manufacture and distribute the invention, and receive a paid three-day trip to New York City.
Grey hadn’t intended to enter the contest, but did so at the urging of his parents, Chris and Hanan. After juggling a few mediocre ideas, Grey ultimately dreamed up The Baby Safe Rider one night in March and stayed up past 3 a.m. tweaking and perfecting his idea.
The Baby Safe Rider was inspired by the birth of Grey’s three-month-old cousin, Annabelle. While researching child safety, Grey learned 606 vehicle-related infant deaths occurred during the past decade as a result of hyperthermia.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s one or a thousand,” Grey said. “A life is priceless.”
The Baby Safe Rider’s goal is to prevent such fatalities by stopping hyperthermia before it starts. The device would be inserted into car seats and designed to detect the onset of temperature increases while recognizing the weight of the child (realizing there is, in fact, a child in the seat). This synchronization would recognize immediate threats of hyperthermia, warning parents of the situation.
The device would be registered with the local police department and equipped with GPS technology. It would detect three levels of safety and danger.
A green level would mean the temperature is safe for the child. A yellow level would mean the temperature is getting too high. At this point, a warning signal would alert the parent, giving them the opportunity to take action.
A red level would mean the temperature is dangerously high, and hyperthermia could already be setting in. The device would send a warning signal directly to the police department, notifying officers of the situation. The Safe Rider’s GPS technology would direct police to the site of the incident, allowing them to intervene.
Grey and the other three finalists traveled to St. Louis for the final judging on Wednesday, April 25, where they presented their ideas to a judging panel that included will.i.am and inventor Dean Kamen. That evening, the panel announced The Baby Safe Rider as the winner of the competition.
Grey was shocked and ecstatic to be chosen as top dog.
“The fact that these amazing judges even acknowledged me tonight was great, but to know that Mark Payne, Dean Kamen and celebrity will.i.am … also wanted to produce (my idea) was all I could ever ask for,” he said.
Grey was barely eligible for the contest because participants had to be between ages 10 and 15. Grey was one day away from being disqualified as he turned 16 on Thursday, the day after the final judging.
Once The Baby Safe Rider hits the shelves, Grey hopes to expand his idea to create an entire line of hyperthermia-prevention products, including Safe Rider: Dog Edition (attached to a dog’s collar) and Safe Rider: Adult Edition (for the elderly and physically handicapped).
Grey’s parents are immensely proud of his hard work and believe his invention will take him very far.
“We just feel like it’s the perfect timing.” Hanan, Grey’s mother, said before the contest. “It’s a blessing from God.”