At 14, Riya Karumanchi invented the SmartCane, a new and improved version of the white cane used by blind people that utilizes technology for things like GPS navigation, object detection, and more. What was first developed for a school science fair quickly took off thanks to its thoughtful and innovative design. After visiting her grandparents in South India, Karumanchi realized that there were so many problems around the world. Although she was experiencing change around her in technology, it wasn’t being distributed equally to everyone.
Through Code.org and Code Academy, she developed her circuitry and coding skills, which were specific to the internet and the iPhone. But after joining ZeroToStartUp and the Knowledge Society in her community, and with the help of her mentors, she was exposed to emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and genomics. As a young CEO and a cofounder of her own company, she got a lot of nos and uninterested looks when sharing her ideas, but she persisted and finally found the right people to add to her team.
“Age should never be a limiting factor when it comes to driving change in the world. It is so important to start early and focus on continuous learning. What is important is passion and willingness to learn from failures,” Riya tells Teen Vogue. In 21 years, Riya hopes technology will help improve the lives of everyone around the globe — equally.
“I hope that in the next 21 years, we start using different technologies and sciences like AI, genomics, and cellular agriculture,” she says, “to tackle things like eradicating diseases and climate change.”