As young programmers and engineers, recent Wellesley High School grads Davis Foster (WHS ’14), Nick Peretti (WHS ’14) and Sam Harada (WHS ’13) spend more time in front of their computers than even the typical teen.
“We spend a ton of time behind our monitors, especially at night, and typically in the dark,” Foster says. ”After awhile, eyestrain makes working unbearable, and you have to either turn on the lights (which can cause annoying glare depending on your light layout and monitor type, as well as distract from the screen) or call it quits.”
That situation inspired the young men to create a project dubbed Antumbra — a “bias” lighting device to reduce contrast between a computer monitor and the surrounding room at night – that they demonstrated at the AngelHack Boston hackathon held June 7-8, just after this year’s Wellesley High graduation. Foster says their creation not only addresses the eyestrain problem, but can appeal to a larger audience of those who use their computers for gaming, entertainment and PC modding.
The Wellesley trio — Foster designed/assembled the hardware in advance while Peretti and Harada did the coding at the event within the 24-hour hackathon window — blew away the AngelHack judges and won the contest, which included 16 teams and 80 people. Their reward: they’ve been entered into a business accelerator/incubator program and have been invited to travel to Silicon Valley to pitch “Shark Tank style” to investors in October.
The team decided on its AngelHack project about 3 weeks before the competition. Impressively, this was their first such event, though they’ve all been doing contract engineering work for a while now.
“So we had experience working within tight timelines, but never in a competition,” says Foster, who has also had success on the botball circuit.
Next up for Foster and Peretti: Attending Rochester Institute of Technology. Harada goes to UNH.