ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Hamish Finlayson: Changing The World One App At A Time

By Emily Peed

Hamish Finlayson: Changing The World One App At A Time

It is about time that more of the U.S. knew of Hamish Finlayson, the young man from Australia causing a stir. He was only 11 years old when he was invited to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in 2016 for his work on his original application, which focused on raising awareness and spreading information about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). With over 5,000 applicants and only 700 entrepreneurs allowed to attend the GES, his attendance has made him the youngest person in the world to receive an invitation. He was one of nine Australians invited to the summit and met with previous President Barack Obama during his stay. Before his work on ASD applications, Finlayson built one of his first applications at just 10 years old, a game called “LittlebugSmash” that features a cartoon turtle named TripleT that helps clean up the oceans, which progresses from an introductory level, to skateboarding away from a mountain of garbage, to the hardest level of escaping a ghost net while avoiding plastic bags and recyclable bottles.

His passion to protect the environment won Finlayson an Australia Day award for Environmental Excellence and Sustainability. Do not mistake him for someone to be caught with dust settling on his wheels. Shortly after his accomplishment, Hamish created additional applications like ‘Keep Calm and Save the Turtles’ and an interactive book called “Litter Book of Facts” that teaches about environmental protection.

Then, Hamish decided to turn his talents to erasing the stigma surrounding autism. What drove him to do so is actually having high-functioning autism himself, saying in a May 2016 ABC article that: “People give you weird looks sometimes; a lot of people in the world don’t know what ASD is, therefore [they are] afraid of it.” Knowing that there was a lack of adequate information spurred him to create “TripleT&ASD,” which includes quizzes and tips to help people with autism and provides information for those seeking to become more knowledgeable about the condition. He is shining a light on the nuances of this condition, presenting himself as a role model to other young individuals, and showing that passion can be a great motivator of change and learning.

You can’t keep this young man from using technology for constructive change, even the most cutting edge. Most recently, he has been utilizing Virtual Reality. He has developed a new application to aid those on the spectrum with learning how to cross the street and handle busy traffic. He found out that individuals with ASD are at a higher risk for getting struck by a car while crossing the street and saw his ability to create a tool to aid this. He is invited to the next Global Entrepreneurship Summit, to be held in India at the end of November 2017, where the President is awaiting the opportunity to meet him.






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