Geek of the Week

Geek of the Week: At 16, Nikolas Ioannou develops apps, goes to varsity and plans a well being startup

Nikolas Ioannou at the University of Washington in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of Nikolas Ioannou)

Like many entrepreneurs, technology has played a significant role in the life of Nikolas Ioannou. It just so happens that Ioannou’s life seems like it’s just getting started.

The 16-year-old first recognized the true potential of tech at the age of 10, and in the time since has adopted programming as his medium for creative expression and positive social change. And he’s already enrolled as an early entrance student at the University of Washington, where he plans to major in Computer Science.

Our latest Geek of the Week has published two apps to the iOS App Store, including one which helps people identify and learn how to properly dispose of waste.

“Even as a younger child, seeing my products have a meaningful purpose for others has been incredibly inspiring and motivating,” Ioannou said.

While the prospect of entering the UW early was initially daunting, Ioannou has embraced numerous opportunities to learn and interact with a community of like-minded peers, enhancing both his academic and social skills. “I can say with confidence that entering the University of Washington early has been one of my best decisions.”

Ioannou said his vision over the next 10 years is to make meaningful contributions in the biomedical field through the application of machine learning. He’s inspired by its potential to save lives, and he’s become fascinated by the intersection of machine learning and medicine. So much so, that Ioannou already has plans for the launch of a biomedical startup.

“One of the biggest challenges in the world is that of global access to quality healthcare services,” Ioannou said. “While this may be a widespread and complex challenge, technology has the potential to develop a solution that revolutionizes the healthcare industry.

“Though I have ambitious goals, I know that I can achieve them through my determination, passion, and the support of my community.”

Learn more about this week’s Geek of the Week, Nikolas Ioannou:

What do you do, and why do you do it? The bulk of my released work is iOS applications. As of October 2019, I have published two applications, Wastify and PickAFinger, to the iOS App Store.

Wastify is an iOS application that makes it easy to learn how to dispose of your waste. By implementing a custom image classification algorithm, Wastify can classify waste in just a fraction of a second, hands-free, and offline. Wastify can classify waste into five categories: garbage, recycling, compost, donation, and transfer station.

PickAFinger is an iOS application that brings Nose Goes to the iPhone. Each user places their finger on the screen and PickAFinger picks a finger!

I am fascinated by the process of taking an idea to reality and find programming and entrepreneurship to be the perfect outlet for my creative expression. While my technology has received awards, I find greater satisfaction in seeing the impact it has on my community.

What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? For me, the most important quality of programming is its potential for widespread dissemination — with the click of a button, I can make my work available on a global scale for all to benefit from.

Where do you find your inspiration? My inspiration comes from a genuine passion to solve problems in my community. For example, after hearing about China’s rejection of Seattle’s recycling due to contamination, I sought to combat the problem head-on. I utilized my skills in iOS development and made Wastify.

What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? Though it’s a hard decision, I would have to choose my computer, as it’s my medium for developing products.

(Photo courtesy of Nikolas Ioannou)

What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? My workspace features a 2017 MacBook Pro, an external monitor, a Bose Soundlink Color 2 speaker, and a 2TB external hard drive. Because my work is primarily digital, however, I have the luxury of choosing where to work — oftentimes, I find myself programming outside, on the bus, and at my tennis center!

Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) Ironically, I have found that the best way to manage my work is by doing less or, better put, finding a balance. If I were to focus all the time on my work, I would produce lower quality results and lose passion. By introducing other activities into my life, like tennis, I have been able to achieve the opposite; higher quality results and a newfound passion for my work.

Mac, Windows or Linux? Definitely Mac! The Apple ecosystem is real.

Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? I haven’t seen Star Trek yet.

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? Time machine, of course! I would love to have the opportunity to experience the past and future.

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … Launch something that would enable self-driving capabilities in any vehicle.

I once waited in line for … A position in the front of the line at WWDC 2018’s merchandise shop — turns out people slept there overnight!

Your role models: Elon Musk is one of my role models. He comes up with ambitious goals and tackles them with an “all in” mentality.

Greatest game in history: Atari Breakout.

Best gadget ever: The iPhone.

First computer: MacBook Pro.

Current phone: iPhone 7.

Favorite app: PickAFinger. Check it out!

Favorite cause: Education in third-world countries.

Most important technology of 2019 Deep learning.

Most important technology of 2021: Likely deep learning.

Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: Be curious.

Website: Nikolas Ioannou

LinkedIn: Nikolas Ioannou

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