ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Anushka Naiknaware - Scientist
In 2016, at age 13, Anushka Naiknaware was the youngest winner of the Google Science Fair, with her invention of a clever new bandage that tells caregivers when it needs to be changed.

Why you should listen

When Anushka Naiknaware was young, she would spend hours at the chemistry lab at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland and not leave until she had finished every experiment available. Her early interest was chemistry and mathematics, but she quickly learned that every branch of science is connected, including physics, biology and computer science. In fact, her winning Google Science Fair project loops together materials science, fractal math and biology.

Naiknaware has won many awards in notable science and math competitions. She was the youngest winner of the Google Science Fair in 2016, and she won the first-place Mathematics STEM Award at Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering Rising Stars), a premier competition run by the Society for Science and the Public. Naiknaware is inspired by Marie Curie, whose work contributed to major advances in modern medicine. Anushka admires her spirit and enthusiasm to continue her work in a time when women's contributions in science weren't appreciated.

More profile about the speaker
Anushka Naiknaware | Speaker | TED.com
TEDWomen 2017

Anushka Naiknaware: A teen scientist's invention to help wounds heal

Filmed:
1,424,223 views

Working out of her garage, Anushka Naiknaware designed a sensor that tracks wound healing, becoming the youngest winner (at age 13) of the Google Science Fair. Her clever invention addresses the global challenge of chronic wounds, which don't heal properly due to preexisting conditions like diabetes and account for billions in medical costs worldwide. Join Naiknaware as she explains how her "smart bandage" works -- and how she's sharing her story to inspire others to make a difference.
- Scientist
In 2016, at age 13, Anushka Naiknaware was the youngest winner of the Google Science Fair, with her invention of a clever new bandage that tells caregivers when it needs to be changed. Full bio

Double-click the English transcript below to play the video.

00:12
Ever since I was a young girl,
I was always fascinated --
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(Laughter)
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Oh!
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(Laughter)
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OK, I meant younger and more short.
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(Laughter)
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If that's possible to imagine.
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But ever since I was a young girl,
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I was always fascinated with how
the world worked exactly how it did.
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So this, very early on,
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led me to the fields
of mathematics and chemistry.
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I would keep going further and further,
and as I kept going,
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I realized that all the fields
of science are interconnected.
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And without one, the others
have little or no value.
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So, inspired by Marie Curie
and my local science museum,
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I decided to start asking
these questions myself
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and engage in my own independent research,
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whether it be out
of my garage or my bedroom.
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I started reading journal papers,
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started doing science competitions,
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started participating in science fairs,
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doing anything I could
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to get the knowledge
that I so desperately wanted.
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So while I was studying anatomy
for a competition,
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I came across the topic
of something called chronic wounds.
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And one thing that stood out
to me was a statistic
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that said that the number of people
in the United States with chronic wounds
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exceeds the number of people
with breast cancer,
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colon cancer, lung cancer
and leukemia, combined.
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Hold up.
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So what is a chronic wound?
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(Laughter)
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And why haven't I heard
about a 5K walk for chronic wounds,
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why haven't I even heard
about a chronic wound in general?
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(Laughter)
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So after I got past
those preliminary questions,
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and one that I will clarify for you,
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a chronic wound is essentially
when someone gets a normal wound,
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except it fails to heal normally
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because the patient has some kind
of preexisting condition,
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which in most cases is diabetes.
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So more staggering statistics
were to be found
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as I kept going on in this research.
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In the year 2010 alone,
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50 billion dollars were spent worldwide
to treat chronic wounds.
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In addition, it's estimated
that about two percent of the population
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will get a chronic wound
at some point in their lifetime.
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This was absurd.
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So as I started doing more research,
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I found that there was a correlation
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between the moisture level
inside a wound dressing
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and the stage of healing
that the chronic wound would be at.
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So I decided, why don't I design something
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to measure the moisture level
within the wound
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so this can help doctors and patients
treat their wounds better.
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And essentially, expedite
the healing process.
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So that's exactly what I set out to do.
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Being a 14-year-old working
out of her garage-turned-lab,
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I had a lot of constraints.
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Most being that I wasn't given a grant,
I wasn't given a lot of money,
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and I wasn't given a lot of resources.
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In addition, I had
a lot of criteria, as well.
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Since this product would be
readily interacting with the body,
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it had to be biocompatible,
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it also had to be low-cost,
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as I was designing it
and paying for it myself.
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It also had to be mass-manufacturable,
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because I wanted it to be made
anywhere, for anyone.
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Thus, I drafted up a schematic.
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What you see on the left hand-side
is the early schematics in my design,
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showing both a bird's-eye view
and also one stacking variant.
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A stacking variant means
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that the entire product is consisted
of different individual parts
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that have to work in unison.
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And what's shown there
is one possible arrangement.
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So what exactly is this?
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So I had gone on to testing my sensors
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and as all scientists have
stumbles along their work,
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I also had a couple of problems
in my first generation of sensors.
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First of all, I couldn't figure out
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how to get a nanoparticle ink
into a printcheck cartridge
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without spilling it all over my carpet.
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That was problem number one.
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Problem number two was,
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I couldn't exactly control
the sensitivity of my sensors.
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I couldn't scale them up or down,
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I couldn't really do
anything of that sort.
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So I wanted something to solve it.
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Problem one was easily solved
by some scouting on eBay and Amazon
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for syringes that I could use.
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Problem two, however,
required a lot more thought.
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So this is where this factors in.
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So what a space-filling curve does
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is it aims to take up all the area it can
within one unit square.
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And by writing a computer program,
you can have different iterations
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of the different curve,
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which increasingly get close
to one unit square,
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but never quite reaches there.
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So now I could control
the thickness, the size,
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I could do whatever I want with it,
and I could predict my results.
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So I started constructing my sensors
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and testing them more rigorously,
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using money that I had gotten
from previous science fair awards.
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Lastly, I had to connect this data
in order to be read.
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So I interfaced it with a Bluetooth chip,
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which you can see here
by the app screenshots on the right.
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And what this does is that anyone
can monitor the progress of their wound,
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and it can be transmitted
over a wireless connection
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to the doctor, the patient
or whoever needs it.
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[Continued Testing and Refinement]
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So in conclusion, my design
was successful --
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however, science never ends.
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There's always something to be done,
something to be refined.
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So that's what I'm currently
in the process of doing.
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However, what I learned was
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what's more important
than the actual thing I designed
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is an attitude that I had
taken on while doing this.
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And that attitude was,
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even though I'm a 14-year-old
working in her garage
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on something that she doesn't
completely understand,
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I could still make a difference
and contribute to the field.
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And that's what inspired me to keep going,
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and I hope it inspires many others
to also do work like this
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even though they're not
very sure about it.
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So I hope that's a message
that you all take on today.
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Thank you.
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(Applause)
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ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Anushka Naiknaware - Scientist
In 2016, at age 13, Anushka Naiknaware was the youngest winner of the Google Science Fair, with her invention of a clever new bandage that tells caregivers when it needs to be changed.

Why you should listen

When Anushka Naiknaware was young, she would spend hours at the chemistry lab at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland and not leave until she had finished every experiment available. Her early interest was chemistry and mathematics, but she quickly learned that every branch of science is connected, including physics, biology and computer science. In fact, her winning Google Science Fair project loops together materials science, fractal math and biology.

Naiknaware has won many awards in notable science and math competitions. She was the youngest winner of the Google Science Fair in 2016, and she won the first-place Mathematics STEM Award at Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering Rising Stars), a premier competition run by the Society for Science and the Public. Naiknaware is inspired by Marie Curie, whose work contributed to major advances in modern medicine. Anushka admires her spirit and enthusiasm to continue her work in a time when women's contributions in science weren't appreciated.

More profile about the speaker
Anushka Naiknaware | Speaker | TED.com