The Internet of Good Things

May 12 2016

Computer whizzes of NYU Shanghai have done it again! Co-organized by PC+I, they lit up Professor Eliot Gatteno’s Center for Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen) with various ingenious inventions. But this time, it was with a heart-warming human touch, as they designed products for the well-being of rural left-behind children.

Last weekend, eight NYUSH students flew to Shenzhen to answer the challenge of a 48-hour hackathon, where they worked with like-minded CUHK peers in different groups to invent and apply IoT technologies to improve the education and livelihoods of more than 60 million “left-behind children” in China, representing over 20 percent of the children in China.

The event was co-chaired by CUHK Shenzhen’s Center for Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship, Intel, and NYU Shanghai’s Program on Creativity + Innovation.


Together with his teammates, IMA student Kadallah Burrowes ‘18 tackled the communication problems between left-behind children and their parents.

“We see an opportunity to create an interactive physical platform that works as a challenge-accomplishment game based on children’s daily habits in order to motivate children to execute fundamental tasks and to give parents accountability on their children’s performance in distance,” Burrowes said.

Their product “Mango”, a shared task-list using a verification system based on thumb prints as well as IoT sensors and LEDs, eventually won over the hearts of the judges and the crowd for its originality and scalable prospect.

Another interesting project, “bonding tree”, which monitors the communication frequency between children and their faraway parents, also drew repeated rounds of applause.


“An event like this is a truly educational experience, as students learn the value of leadership and teamwork when solving problems under pressure. Additionally, we’re having them focus on creating potential products that are sustainable and fit for this market and could potentially be put to a use solving real problems”  said Christian Grewell, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Interactive Media Arts and Business at NYU Shanghai.

Yashesh Shroff, program manager of the IoT with Intel, says he is impressed by the solutions brought up by the students.

"There are students who are very good at design thinking, coding or ideation. If we put all of these different elements of innovation together, the solutions they bring out will be essentially brilliant," he said.

*The Internet of Things, or IoT is the network of physical objects and embedded electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data with each other.