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Silicon Valley Teens on the Future of Technology

The inventors of tomorrow speak.

Foundation Capital

What’s in store for the future of technology?

That’s the question VC firm Foundation Capital posed to dozens of Bay Area teenagers this week during a tech event in Palo Alto. Groups of students from seven nearby high schools presented their ideas on the future of tech in front of an audience that included execs from the likes of Instagram and Netflix, Foundation Capital’s general partners, and, of course, their parents.

Some of the students, many of whom are not yet old enough to drive, showed up with prototypes and models of projects that they actually have in the works. Others have already started their own non-profits. When asked what kinds of college courses they’re looking forward to most, students called out things like “design thinking” and “applied entrepreneurship.”

Seriously.

So, listen up. Here’s what your future bosses have on their minds today.

Wearables — Students are high on wearables, and not just for listening to music or checking your heart rate. Austin Veseliza, a sophomore from Nueva School in Hillsborough, wants to build a glove that allows the wearer to communicate by using touchpoints on the hand and fingers to type out messages. The idea is to offer a better solution to the hearing impaired than sign language, he says.

The team from Eastside Preparatory School in East Palo Alto came up with “U-View,” an idea for a wearable contact lens that acts very much like Google Glass — voice controlled, hologram screen, and a smart shut off to understand when you may need to focus on a face to face conversation. Ten-year-old Yash Narayan, who didn’t present (he’s only in 5th grade!) but approached me afterward with his mother, has designs for a watch that kids can use to alert authorities if they’re being bullied (aptly named “Bully Watch”).

“We believe here in Silicon Valley we are the trendsetters of technology,” said Maleah Reid, a sophomore from Eastside Prep. “We believe this is where the world is being led to.”

Education Tech — Multiple student groups were adamant about one thing: They want to be in control of their own class schedule, meaning they don’t want mandatory coding classes, for example. The team from Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley suggested that students want critical thinking classes that will help them decide if they want to take a coding class later on.

Students also expected tablets and online coursework to have an impact in the classroom. In short, paper will be eliminated, according to the students at Crystal Springs Uplands School in Hillsborough. Putting assignments and reading online will suffice.

Environment — Alex Fine, a sophomore at Lick-Wilmerding High School, has designs for what he’s simply calling a “water condensation apparatus,” a box that uses a cold core unit to turn moisture from the warmer air into readily available drinking water.

His classmate, Alex Sahai, has been working on designs for a hydro kinetic generator that creates electricity as water flows earthward from elevated water towers. The energy, he says, will be particularly helpful in rural areas of the world. Sahai already started his own non-profit, Planet of the Kids, to provide a forum of sorts for teenage entrepreneurs to meet and share ideas online.

After all, “We are the entrepreneurs and inventors of tomorrow,” he told the crowd.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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