Seth Daetwiler was 5 when he designed his first invention — a pair of rocket boots.
Looking to share his invention — and score a pair of the boots in return — Daetwiler sent his drawings and building instructions for the boots to several shoe companies.
New Balance was the only company which responded, with a handwritten letter and a box of merchandise, which Daetwiler was disappointed to find did not contain his much anticipated boots.
“It was the most disappointing day of my life. That was rough,” Daetwiler, now 16, recalled.
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It’s supposed to give more to life rather than take away. This is trying to help people ... it seemed like something the market needed.
But the love of inventing and creating wasn’t dissuaded by his early disappointment. After teaching himself to code, Daetwiler just released his first app to the Apple App Store.
Named Karma: Do Better, Feel Better, Daetwiler’s app encourages users to engage with the world beyond their device to spread positivity and increase human-to-human interaction.
“It’s supposed to give more to life rather than take away,” he explained. “This is trying to help people ... it seemed like something the market needed.”
The app — available for a free download to Apple devices — includes motivational quotes and issues daily challenges to users to do something good for other people to gain karma points.
“The simplest one is to smile, because when you smile you feel better,” Daetwiler said. “Some pull focus to other people. Some pull focus to yourself.”
He likes everything. He likes mechanical things. He likes to take things apart and put them together.
Designing the app was a project that Daetwiler, a Gig Harbor High School student, started for fun and was encouraged to use for a TSA — Technology Student Association — competition that his STEM club is participating in this month.
Building and mechanics are things that have interested Daetwiler since early childhood, said his mother, Sarah Richardson.
“He likes everything,” she said. “He likes mechanical things. He likes to take things apart and put them together.”
This love of building and creating has transferred into coding, where Daetwiler creates his apps with a focus on UI, or User Interface, and UX, User Experience, designs so that his work has a clean, professional look and experience for users.
I like things to look nice. A lot of people my age design things that look like crap because they’re so focused on how things work.
“I like things to look nice,” he explained. “A lot of people my age design things that look like crap because they’re so focused on how things work.”
As he moves through his junior year, Daetwiler is thinking ahead to college — possibly the University of Washington for its computer science program — and has applied for a summer high school internship at Microsoft.
He is also keeping busy with updates to his Karma app and has just completed a second app, Tap Battle: the game, a mandatory two-person game where players share the device screen in a tug-of-war to tap their board faster than their opponent. Like Daetwiler’s other work, Tap Battle is designed to use technology to bring people together, rather than isolate them.
Both Karma and Tap Battle are available for free download and can be found on the Apple App Store by searching Daetwiler’s name.