UPDATED 13:00 EST / MAY 10 2013

Teen Designed Emergency App Keeps Your Loved Ones At Ease and Reflects Importance of Youth Innovation in Tech


There was a bad weather storm. You were stuck in traffic. You were running late. One of these things happened at the worst time possible – when your friends, family and loved ones were wondering if you were ok. Unfortunately, they couldn’t reach you because your cell phone battery faded. The recently launched Oh My Battery’s Dead (OMBD) app for android will put you and your loved ones at ease by automatically texting your location to a friend, family member or loved one when your battery drains to a predetermined level you set.

Not surprisingly, this app was created by tech-savvy teenager Hamza Hawkins who knows what its like to have concerned parents worry about your whereabouts. Hawkins explains: “I had already developed the app ‘Reply 2 Texts‘ and the idea of developing another app with some kind of text
messaging feature set in. Then one day after talking about being safe at college with my parents, I thought why not develop an app that would automatically text my parents to let them know my phone is about to die. This way, they won’t be worried when my phone dies and they can’t reach me as they’ll at least have my last location to have an idea of where I am.” Hawkins is a 17 year old future computer science major at George Mason University in Washington, DC. He has been interested in computer science since repairing his computer after it caught a virus at 12 years old.

Hawkins further developed his programming skills through the Youth AppLab program, at the Washington, DC based non-profit organization Uplift, Inc.  Founded in 2008 by Google Scholar, Leshell Hatley, Uplift, Inc. has received the support of organizations like The MacArthur Foundation, ING Unsung Heroes and Google RISE to teach youth classes in in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), including app development. A PhD student in Learning Technology at George Mason University and social entrepreneur, Hatley believes: “It is important for industry leaders to understand the potential impact of youth innovation to their bottom line and beyond the bottom line. Youth want to solve problems and drive change and it’s this will that fosters the innovation that leads to enhanced profit and other tangible economic benefits. When they are taken seriously as leaders within a business or industry as problem solvers, they become encouraged to make more of those transformative innovations.”

Hamza Hawkins

Business leaders around the world are not dismissing youth created technology as a quaint hobby, but looking to young technologists as key players in the creative economy. Speaking to several business owners and political leaders at the recent United Nations 2013 Youth Forum of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), President Néstor Osorio referenced young inventors like Thomas Edison and Isaac Newton as well as 20 year old founders Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg as examples of the roles youth have played in creating economic and technological paradigm shifts. According to a United Nations press release, the forum’s primary aim is to: “provide a platform for youth to engage in dialogue with various stakeholders in order to explore possible methods for promoting global and sustainable development, building upon the potential of science, technology, innovation and culture.”

As the summer approaches we typically expect to see teenagers trying to earn an extra dollar here or there. The future, however, seems to be in giving them the opportunity to develop and refine the skills to create their own economic opportunities through innovation.

Visit the developer’s website at http://www.snikwahinteractive.com/ and email Hamza directly with questions and comments at snikwahinteractive@hawkinsinc.net.


























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