SciTech Now Episode 217

In this episode, shark skin could be the key to combating the spread of harmful bacteria inside hospitals; an innovative device allows you to virtually connect with your dog; researchers find a connection between a child’s socioeconomic status and the surface area of the brain; and more.

TRANSCRIPT

COMING UP... A SKIN-DEEP SOLUTION TO PREVENTING BACTERIAL INFECTIONS.

WE USE TEXTURES INSPIRED BY THE SKIN OF SHARKS TO CONTROL BACTERIA ON SURFACES.

THE COMMUNITY BULLETIN BOARD GOES DIGITAL.

REALLY, WHAT WE SEE -- THIS IS A STARTING POINT FOR COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS TO LICENSE THESE DOMAINS AND REALLY CUSTOMIZE THOSE TO MAKE THEM UNIQUE TO THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD.

TECHNOLOGY THAT BRINGS US FACE-TO-FACE WITH OUR DOGS.

IT'S A REALLY COOL TECHNOLOGY CALLED AutoAnswer, SO, YEAH, YOU DON'T HAVE TO TRAIN YOUR DOG TO PRESS THE ANSWER-CALL BUTTON.

MONEY CAN'T BUY YOU LOVE, BUT HOW ABOUT A BIGGER BRAIN?

AT THAT AGE, THEIR BRAINS HAVE LOTS OF ROOM TO GROW, AND THE MORE WE DO WITH THEM, THE MORE LIKELY THEY ARE TO GET TO THAT SAME PLACE AS THEIR MIDDLE-INCOME PEERS.

IT'S ALL AHEAD.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE BY...

HELLO. I'M HARI SREENIVASAN.

WELCOME TO OUR WEEKLY PROGRAM BRINGING YOU THE LATEST BREAKTHROUGHS IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND INNOVATION.

LET'S GET STARTED.

HOSPITAL-BORNE INFECTIONS KILL THOUSANDS OF PATIENTS EVERY YEAR.

ONE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA PROFESSOR THINKS SHARKSKIN COULD BE THE KEY TO COMBATING THE SPREAD OF HARMFUL BACTERIA INSIDE HOSPITALS.

HIS UNUSUAL IDEA IS BEING PUT TO THE TEST BY A COMPANY CALLED SHARKLET TECHNOLOGIES.

HERE'S A LOOK.

A RECENT OUTBREAK OF DRUG-RESISTANT BACTERIA IN SEVERAL U.S. HOSPITALS HAS EXPERTS LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS.

THAT'S THE LEADING EDGE, SO WE DETECTING THE COATING ON THE EDGE...

ANTHONY BRENNAN THINKS THE ANSWER MAY BE FOUND IN THE OCEANS -- SPECIFICALLY, IN THE COMPLEX, MICROSCOPIC PATTERN FOUND ON THE SKIN OF SHARKS.

BRENNAN'S WORK ON SHARKSKIN BEGAN 14 YEARS AGO, WHEN HE WAS ASKED BY THE NAVY TO FIND A WAY TO KEEP BARNACLES FROM ATTACHING TO SHIPS.

AS I WAS DOING SOME EVALUATIONS FOR THE OFFICE OF NAVAL RESEARCH, I CAME ACROSS THIS IDEA OF THE SHARKS -- THE LITTLE NURSE SHARKS -- AND I SAID, 'THEY DON'T GET BARNACLES ON THEM, BUT A SHIP SITTING IN A HARBOR, AT A DOCK, WILL HAVE THAT SAME CURRENT, AND THEY GET BARNACLES.'

JUST A STRAIGHT SHARKLET, OR...

BRENNAN TRIED TO REPLICATE THE SHARKSKIN PATTERN, CREATING A FILMLIKE MATERIAL HE CALLED SHARKLET.

SAME COMPOSITION, DIFFERENT SAMPLE.

YES.

HE FOUND THE TEXTURE PROVIDES A DYNAMIC AND UNSTABLE ENVIRONMENT FOR MANY ORGANISMS, NOT JUST BARNACLES.

A YOUNG MAN FROM CHEMICAL ENGINEERING WANTED TO DO RESEARCH WITH ME BECAUSE HE'D HEARD ABOUT SHARKLET.

AND SO I GAVE HIM A PIECE BASED ON HIS PRIOR EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH E. COLI, WHICH IS A HUMAN BASE BACTERIA, AND THIS PARTICULAR SPECIES.

AND HE KNEW HOW TO CULTURE IT, SO I SAID, 'WELL, HERE.

TAKE THIS FILM DOWN TO THE LAB AND GROW E. COLI ON IT.'

AND HE KEPT COMING BACK AND SAYING, 'I CAN'T GET IT TO WORK.'

THERE ARE MANY SURFACES OUT THERE THAT CAN STOP WATER FROM SETTLING ON THEM, BUT THE ORGANISMS CAN STILL GET ON THEM.

AND THE SHARKLET JUST HAS A UNIQUE TOPOGRAPHY, WITH THOSE SMALL FEATURES GOING UP TO THE LARGE ONES AND BACK DOWN AGAIN, AND THAT PERIODIC NATURE IN IT IS VERY IMPORTANT IN INHIBITING THE ATTACHMENT OF THESE ORGANISMS.

BECAUSE AS THE SHARK IS MOVING THROUGH THE WATER, THE ANIMAL IS MOVING, AND AS IT MOVES, ITS SKIN MOVES, AND IT'S CHANGING THE WAY THOSE INDIVIDUAL FEATURES INTERACT WITH THE WATER.

SO YOU'RE GETTING VERY SMOOTH FLOW AND THEN TURBULENT FLOW AND THEN SMOOTH FLOW, AND THAT STRUCTURE, I THINK, IS CONTRIBUTING TO THE CLEANING ACTION THAT THE SHARKS UNDERGO THAT HELPS PREVENT BACTERIA FROM GROWING ON THE SHARKS.

BRENNAN BELIEVES THE TEXTURED SHARKLET SURFACE COULD HELP PREVENT THE GROWTH AND TRANSMISSION OF BACTERIA.

CAN YOU WALK ME THROUGH THE RESULTS THAT WE'VE GOTTEN SO FAR?

THAT THEORY IS BEING PUT TO THE TEST BY A COMPANY CALLED SHARKLET TECHNOLOGIES.

THEY CREATED A MAN-MADE, TEXTURED SHARKLET FILM.

LIKE THE SKIN OF A SHARK, THE FILM REPELS BACTERIA, SOME OF WHICH CAN BE DEADLY.

SHINING A LASER THROUGH THE FILM REVEALS SHARKLET'S MICROSCOPIC PATTERN.

WE USE TEXTURES INSPIRED BY THE SKIN OF SHARKS TO CONTROL BACTERIA ON SURFACES.

SO NO CHEMICALS, NO ANTIBIOTICS, NO HEAVY METALS.

IT REALLY IS JUST THE OF THE SURFACE THAT THE BACTERIA DON'T LIKE.

ABOUT 2 MILLION PEOPLE A YEAR GET WHAT ARE CALLED HOSPITAL-ACQUIRED INFECTIONS.

THAT MEANS THEY WENT INTO THE HOSPITAL FOR KNEE SURGERY OR HIP SURGERY, AND THEY ENDED UP GETTING SOME KIND OF INFECTION WHILE THERE THAT THEY DIDN'T BRING IN WITH THEM.

OF THOSE 2 MILLION PEOPLE, WE SPEND ABOUT $30 BILLION A YEAR TREATING THOSE INFECTIONS, AND 100,000 PEOPLE A YEAR DIE FROM THOSE INFECTIONS.

SOME OF THE BACTERIA THAT ARE OUT THERE ARE RESISTANT.

THEY'RE THE MULTIDRUG-RESISTANT BACTERIA THAT ARE RESISTANT TO DIFFERENT ANTIBIOTICS.

WE JUST DON'T WANT THE BACTERIA TO ATTACH TO OUR SURFACE, AND WHEN THEY DON'T ATTACH, THEY DIE.

SO WHETHER THEY'RE RESISTANT OR NOT RESISTANT, THEY DON'T LIKE OUR SURFACE.

MANY BACTERIA -- IN THIS CASE, A COMMON STAPH GERM -- HAVE TROUBLE ATTACHING TO AND GROWING ON THE SHARKLET PATTERN.

WE COMPARE A SMOOTH SURFACE RIGHT NEXT TO A SHARKLET SURFACE.

THERE'S 10 TO 100 MORE BACTERIA ON A SMOOTH SURFACE COMPARED TO A SHARKLET SURFACE.

SPIECKER AND HIS TEAM HOPE TO BRING THE SHARKLET FILM INTO HOSPITALS.

THE TEXTURED MATERIAL CAN BE ATTACHED TO HIGH-TOUCH AREAS, LIKE HANDRAILS AND DOORKNOBS.

OUR PHARMACIST IS WORKING ON tPA IN THE BACKGROUND.

DR. MARGARET SANDE DIRECTS AN EMERGENCY-ROOM-SIMULATION CENTER, WHERE SHE AND HER STUDENTS CONDUCTED A STUDY WITH THE SHARKLET FILM, COVERING SURFACES LIKE CART HANDLES AND DRUG VIALS.

WHEN IT REALLY IS A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH, PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS, BY THEIR NATURAL INSTINCT, GONNA JUMP IN, ROLL UP THEIR SLEEVES, AND ACT.

WE INTENTIONALLY HAD THE STAPH AUREUS BACTERIA, WHICH IS A COMMON BACTERIA, ON THE LEG OF THE PATIENT SO THAT THEY STARTED WITH A TOUCH AT THE LEG, AND THE PATIENT BECAME CRITICALLY ILL AND NEEDED TO HAVE THE DEFIBRILLATOR APPLIED.

AND THEY GRABBED THAT CART, AND THEY HAD TO ENGAGE THE DEFIBRILLATOR BY PUSHING THE BUTTON.

WE WERE ABLE TO PROMPT THEM, ESSENTIALLY, AS THE CASE UNFOLDED, TO TOUCH CERTAIN PLACES IN A GIVEN SEQUENCE.

THE HAND CAN BE, SORT OF, THE SOURCE OF ALL EVIL AS WE THEN DEAL WITH THE DEVICES THAT WE USE TO TREAT PATIENTS, LIKE CATHETERS, ET CETERA.

THINGS THAT BECOME INVASIVE THEN BECOME A PORTAL FOR INFECTION FOR OUR PATIENTS.

THE SURFACES COVERED WITH SHARKLET, WHICH COSTS 50 CENTS TO $1 PER SQUARE FOOT, RETAINED FEWER GERMS.

MARK SPIECKER SAYS THE MATERIAL MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SHARKLET SURFACE AND THE NON-SHARKLET SURFACE WAS ABOUT A 13-FOLD DECREASE IN BACTERIA THAT TRANSFERRED ONTO THOSE SURFACES.

THAT'S EXCELLENT.

BACK AT HIS LAB IN FLORIDA, ANTHONY BRENNAN HOPES HIS DISCOVERY WILL CREATE A NEW GENERATION OF SURFACE-BASED TECHNOLOGIES TO PREVENT BIOFOULING -- THE BUILDUP OF ORGANISMS.

WE'RE LEARNING A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF INFORMATION FROM THE INTRODUCTION OF THE SHARKLET.

EVERYBODY IS STARTING TO LOOK AT MAMMALS, AND PEOPLE HAVE LOOKED AT PORPOISE SKINS AS A WAY OF CREATING A TEXTURE TO TRY TO INHIBIT BIOFOULING.

THEY'VE GONE BACK AND LOOKED AT WHALES AGAIN.

THEY'RE LOOKING AT ALL THE CHEMICAL SPECIES THAT THESE SKINS RELEASE AND TRYING TO DEVELOP A VIABLE TECHNOLOGY FOR ANTI-FOULING.

SO IT'S BEEN EXTREMELY INFORMATIVE TO US.

IN 2014, NEW YORK CITY LAUNCHED THE .nyc DOMAIN, JOINING THE RANKS OF GEODOMAINS LIKE .london AND .tokyo.

A YEAR LATER, THE CITY OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION HAS ANNOUNCED WEBSITES FOR EACH OF ITS 400 NEIGHBORHOODS.

NOW NEW YORKERS CAN FIND TRAFFIC ALERTS AND SEARCH FOR NEARBY PARKS AND POLLING PLACES ON THESE HYPER-LOCAL SITES, WITH NAMES LIKE soho.nyc AND chinatown.nyc.

HERE TO TELL US MORE IS JEFF MERRITT, DIRECTOR OF INNOVATION IN THE MAYOR'S OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION.

WHAT IS THE OPEN DATA POLICY THAT NEW YORK CITY HAS TO ENABLE ALL OF THESE NEIGHBORHOODS TO HAVE A STEADY STREAM OF INFORMATION COMING IN?

SO, NEW YORK WAS REALLY ONE OF THE FIRST CITIES IN THE COUNTRY TO HAVE A ROBUST OPEN DATA POLICY, AND SO, REALLY, WE STARTED PULLING INFORMATION FROM AGENCIES AND PUTTING IT IN OUR OPEN DATA PORTAL.

BUT, UNFORTUNATELY, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LOOK AT AN OPEN DATA PORTAL IS YOU'RE JUST OVERWHELMED BY THE QUANTITY OF INFORMATION, RIGHT?

AND YOU'RE LOOKING AT TABLES AND TABLES OF INFORMATION.

AND SO WHAT WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO DO HERE WITH neighborhoods.nyc IS TAKE THAT INFORMATION, FILTER IT DOWN BY GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATIONS -- 'CAUSE, REALLY, NEIGHBORHOODS ARE THE FABRIC OF THIS CITY, WHAT PEOPLE IDENTIFY WITH -- AND PUT THE MOST RELEVANT INFORMATION IN FRONT OF RESIDENTS AT ONE CLICK IN VERY SIMPLE, NATURAL LANGUAGE THAT'S EASY TO UNDERSTAND AND USE.

SO, WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF BITS OF INFORMATION THAT SOMEONE CAN SEE WHEN THEY POP INTO A NEIGHBORHOOD?

SO, WE'VE GOT DOZENS OF DIFFERENT DATA FEEDS COMING IN.

A LOT OF THEM ARE COMING IN THROUGH 311.

311's THE SITE THAT NEW YORKERS CALL FOR ALL KINDS OF NON-EMERGENCIES.

SO YOU'LL HAVE INFORMATION THERE ON COMPLAINTS ABOUT A BROKEN STREETLIGHT OR PERHAPS THERE'S TRASH OR ANY SORT OF DIFFERENT COMPLAINTS IN THE COMMUNITY.

BUT YOU'LL ALSO HAVE THINGS LIKE STREET CLOSURES OR CONSTRUCTION.

YOU'LL HAVE REAL-TIME INFORMATION ABOUT TRAIN DELAYS.

AND SO IF YOU IMAGINE YOU'RE A BUSINESS OWNER AND YOUR DAY-TO-DAY BUSINESS DEPENDS ON THESE TYPE OF ACTIVITIES IN THE COMMUNITY, THIS IS CRITICAL INFORMATION FOR YOU TO KNOW, AND YOU NEED IT IN REAL TIME.

SO, HOW DOES THIS CHANGE WHAT A COMMUNITY GATHERS AND TALKS ABOUT, RIGHT?

BECAUSE THERE HAVE BEEN PEOPLE THAT HAVE GOTTEN TOGETHER ON THE STREETS AND SAID BEFORE, 'OH, GOSH, THAT CONSTRUCTION'S REALLY HORRIBLE.'

BUT NOW, WHEN THERE IS A DATA SET THAT THEY CAN ALL HAVE ACCESS TO, HOW DOES IT CHANGE THE INTERACTIONS?

SURE.

SO, ON ONE HAND, ONE OF THE CRITICAL THINGS IS WE WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD HAD ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION, RIGHT?

BECAUSE WHAT YOU FIND OFTENTIMES IN THE CITY IS SORT OF INFORMATION ASYMMETRY.

SOME COMMUNITIES HAVE REAL ROBUST WEBSITES, AND THEY HAVE ACCESS TO ALL OF THE INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING.

IN OTHER COMMUNITIES, THEY MIGHT NOT HAVE ANY COMMUNITY WEBSITE.

SO WE WANTED TO MAKE SURE FROM THE GET-GO THAT EVERY COMMUNITY HAD A PLATFORM AND THEY COULD BUILD UPON THAT.

AND SO, REALLY, WHAT WE SEE -- THIS IS A STARTING POINT FOR COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS TO LICENSE THESE DOMAINS AND REALLY CUSTOMIZE THOSE TO MAKE THEM UNIQUE TO THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD.

I WAS GONNA SAY -- TO SCALE SOMETHING, IF IT CAN HAPPEN IN NEW YORK, IT CAN PROBABLY HAPPEN IN A SMALLER CITY.

BUT TO START OUT WITH, REALLY, THE 400... HOW DO YOU SEE IT EVOLVING OVER TIME?

I MEAN, DO YOU SEE THAT PLACES WHERE THERE ARE ALREADY ACTIVE COMMUNITY GROUPS MIGHT EMBRACE THIS AND BUILD IT OUT BIGGER?

YEAH, SO, WHAT WE'RE DOING IS WE'RE LAUNCHING -- LAST WEEK, WE LAUNCHED A 90-DAY BETA PERIOD.

AND SO WE'RE WELCOMING ALL KINDS OF FEEDBACK.

WE WANT TO KNOW IF ACTUALLY THE DATA THAT WE'RE PUTTING ONTO THESE SITES IS THE CORRECT INFORMATION, IF PEOPLE WANT MORE INFORMATION, IF THEY WANT TO PRESENT IT A DIFFERENT WAY.

AND DURING THAT PHASE, WE'RE DOING HEAVY OUTREACH TO COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS, AND WE'RE INVITING THEM TO SUBMIT AN APPLICATION, PUT SOME AFFIDAVITS OF SUPPORT AND SAY, 'I WANT TO LICENSE MY NEIGHBORHOOD SITE,' SO, 'I WANT TO LICENSE tribeca.nyc OR brownsville.nyc.'

AND THEN WHAT WE'LL BE DOING IS, WE'LL REALLY BE HANDING OVER THE REINS TO THOSE COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS TO DEVELOP ON TOP OF THIS PLATFORM.

SO IT'LL MEAN THAT THEY DON'T HAVE TO UPDATE THEIR SITE EVERY SINGLE DAY.

THEIR SITES ARE UPDATED AUTOMATICALLY WITH REAL-TIME DATA FEEDS.

BUT THEN THEY CAN ADD ON TO THEIR INFORMATION ON LOCAL BUSINESSES, LOCAL GROUPS.

THEY CAN ADD DISCUSSION BOARDS.

AND SOMEBODY'S GONNA ASK, 'LISTEN, WHY IS THE CITY INVOLVED IN DOING THIS?

DON'T WE HAVE APPS AND SERVICES NOW, FROM TripAdvisor TO YELP TO WHATEVER, THAT GIVE TONS OF COMMENTS AND REVIEWS?'

WHAT'S SO DIFFERENT ABOUT THE PIECES OF INFORMATION THAT PEOPLE ARE SUBMITTING TO 311 VERSUS ALL THIS OTHER STUFF?

I MEAN, REALLY, WE SEE ALL THE DATA THAT THE CITY HAS AS ASSETS, AND WE WANT TO MAKE THAT AVAILABLE TO RESIDENTS.

AND SO REALLY, THIS WAS A WAY TO MAKE SURE THAT ANY NEIGHBORHOOD RESIDENT -- DOESN'T MATTER IF IT'S, YOU KNOW, A GRANDMOTHER WHO'S 85 OR A STUDENT WHO'S 15 -- WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY CAN ACCESS THE MOST RELEVANT INFORMATION FOR THEM, AND WE'VE GOT IT COMING IN REAL TIME.

SO, AGAIN, WE THINK THESE ARE GONNA BE ABLE TO EVOLVE OVER TIME.

WE THINK THAT THEY MAY BE ABLE TO INCORPORATE INFORMATION FROM PRIVATE SITES OR OTHER COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS' SITES.

BUT WE WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAD A STARTING POINT, A BASE, SO THAT EVERY COMMUNITY HAD GOOD, UP-TO-DATE, ACCURATE INFORMATION.

COULD THIS WORK IN LESS DENSE URBAN AREAS?

OF COURSE.

WE'VE PARTLY -- THE REASON WHY WE HAVE 400 NEIGHBORHOODS IS EVERYBODY OFTENTIMES DEFINES THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD IN DIFFERENT WAYS, RIGHT?

SO YOU MIGHT HAVE TWO FOLKS THAT SEE THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD -- YOU KNOW, ONE SEES IT AS 'I LIVE IN CARROLL GARDENS.'

RIGHT?

AND SOME PEOPLE WILL SEE THE NEIGHBORHOOD NEXT TO MINE AS BoCoCa, RIGHT?

I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT EXACT DEFINITION IS.

BUT WE WANTED TO ENABLE A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT SITES FOR EACH NEIGHBORHOOD AS FOLKS SEE THAT NEIGHBORHOOD.

IN SOME CASES, THEY'RE VERY SMALL.

AND IT MAY BE A RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD WHERE A GROUP OF HOMEOWNERS END UP BEING THE ONES THAT ADMINISTER THAT SITE.

SO, WHERE DO YOU SEE THIS GOING, AFTER THIS BETA PERIOD, A YEAR FROM NOW, FIVE YEARS FROM NOW?

YOUR-BEST CASE SCENARIO.

BEST-CASE SCENARIO IS REALLY WE HAVE ROBUST COMMUNITY SITES IN EVERY SINGLE NEIGHBORHOOD.

THOSE COULD BE SITES THAT ARE GENERATING REVENUE FOR THOSE LOCAL NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS.

THEY INCLUDE PAGES ON THERE FOR ALL THE LOCAL MOM-AND-POP SHOPS.

AND ULTIMATELY, BECAUSE THIS IS A PLATFORM, IT'S SOMETHING THAT CAN BE REPLICATED IN OTHER CITIES AROUND THE WORLD.

WE'VE ALREADY SEEN THAT WITH digital.nyc, WHICH IS OUR ONE-STOP SHOP FOR THE TECH ECOSYSTEM THAT'S NOW BEING REPLICATED IN CITIES LIKE LONDON, BOSTON.

WE EXPECT THE SAME THING HERE.

IN MANY WAYS IN NEW YORK, WHAT WE TRY TO DO IS ESTABLISH A NEW WAY OF DOING THINGS AND REALLY ESTABLISH A MODEL THAT CAN BE REPLICATED AROUND THE WORLD.

ALL RIGHT, JEFF MERRITT, THANKS SO MUCH FOR STOPPING BY.

THANK YOU.

MAN'S BEST FRIEND IS IN FOR A REAL TREAT WITH THIS NEXT STORY.

A DEVICE CALLED iCPooch ALLOWS YOU TO VIRTUALLY CONNECT WITH YOUR DOG AND GIVE THEM A TREAT WITH THE SIMPLE CLICK OF A BUTTON.

UP NEXT IS 15-YEAR OLD BROOKE MARTIN, WHO IS THE BRAINCHILD BEHIND THIS INNOVATIVE DEVICE.

REPORTER ANDREA VASQUEZ HAS THE INTERVIEW VIA GOOGLE HANGOUT.

BROOKE MARTIN, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

CAN YOU TELL ME, WHAT IS iCPooch?

SO, iCPooch IS A DEVICE THAT LETS YOU DO TWO-WAY VIDEO CHAT WITH YOUR DOG AND DELIVER THEM A TREAT FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.

SO WHILE YOU'RE AWAY FROM HOME, WHETHER THAT'S ON, YOU KNOW, THEY'RE ON VACATION OR AT WORK OR AT SCHOOL, YOU CAN JUST USE YOUR MOBILE APP TO CALL UP YOUR DOG, CHECK IN ON THEM, AND GIVE THEM A LITTLE SNACK.

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR THIS?

SO, WHEN I WAS ABOUT 12 YEARS OLD, WE HAD RECENTLY ADOPTED OUR GOLDEN RETRIEVER NAMED KAYLA.

AND WE BEGAN TO NOTICE SOME SYMPTOMS, I GUESS, CHARACTERISTIC OF SEPARATION ANXIETY.

SO WHENEVER WE WOULD LEAVE THE HOME, SHE WOULD GET REALLY UPSET, AND SHE WOULD START RUNNING AROUND AND WHINING, AND I FELT SO BAD TO HAVE TO LEAVE HER THAT WAY EVERY DAY, AND I MISSED HER WHILE I WAS GONE, CERTAINLY.

AND SO I KIND OF THOUGHT, 'WELL, HEY, WE HAVE ALL THESE WAYS TO BRING US TOGETHER WITH OUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS.

WHY NOT OUR DOGS AND OUR PETS?'

AND SO THAT'S KIND OF HOW THE IDEA SPARKED.

SO, WHEN YOU SAY YOU'RE CALLING UP YOUR DOG AND SENDING A TREAT -- THE DOG'S NOT PICKING UP THE PHONE.

HOW DOES THAT WORK, EXACTLY?

YEAH, SO, IT'S A REALLY COOL TECHNOLOGY CALLED AutoAnswer.

SO, YEAH, YOU DON'T HAVE TO TRAIN YOUR DOG TO PRESS THE ANSWER-CALL BUTTON.

YOU PUT YOUR OWN TABLET OR SMARTPHONE ON THE FRONT OF iCPooch, AND SO WHEN YOU ARE AWAY FROM HOME, IT'S BASICALLY WAITING FOR YOUR CALL, AND SO WHEN YOU INITIATE THE CALL, IT AUTOMATICALLY POPS UP SO YOUR DOG CAN SEE AND HEAR YOU SO YOU CAN CALL THEM OVER TO IT, OR USUALLY, WHEN YOU DROP THE TREAT, THEY COME RUNNING RIGHT OVER WITHOUT YOU HAVING TO CALL THEIR NAMES.

AND THEN, WHEN YOU'RE READY TO END THE CALL, YOU CAN JUST PRESS 'END,' AND IT'S NICE, BECAUSE WHEN IT'S NOT BEING USED, YOUR DEVICE CAN GO INTO SLEEP MODE SO IT'S NOT WASTING TOO MUCH BATTERY.

THIS STARTED AS A SCHOOL PROJECT, RIGHT?

YEAH, SO, IN MIDDLE SCHOOL, THEY ENCOURAGED US TO EXPLORE OUR INTERESTS, AND SO WE HAD, LIKE, AN INDEPENDENT PROJECT -- JUST TO STUDY WHATEVER WE WANTED, AND I'VE ALWAYS BEEN AN ENTREPRENEUR AT HEART, SO I WANTED TO LEARN MORE ABOUT, KIND OF, THE STARTUP SIDE OF BUSINESSES, AND I JUST KIND OF HAD THIS IDEA FOR A WHILE, AND I THOUGHT, 'HEY, WHY NOT JUST KIND OF START PURSUING IT NOW?

DID YOU HAVE ANY IDEA IT WOULD BE SO SUCCESSFUL?

I DIDN'T.

YOU KNOW, I WAS A LITTLE NERVOUS, AT FIRST TO, KIND OF, PUT MYSELF OUT THERE, ESPECIALLY AS SUCH A YOUNG PERSON IN THE ADULT BUSINESS WORLD.

AND I WAS SO, JUST, AMAZED AND ABSOLUTELY HUMBLED BY HOW RESPONSIVE PEOPLE WERE AND JUST HOW EXCITED THEY WERE TO HELP ME AS A YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR AND REALLY JUST HELP SEE THE IDEA THROUGH, SO...

HOW DID YOU GO THROUGH THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING IT AND CARRYING OUT THE PRODUCT?

YEAH, I MEAN, I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO SAY THAT I ABSOLUTELY COULD NOT HAVE DONE IT ALL ON MY OWN, AND I THINK THAT'S WHERE SOME PEOPLE GET HUNG UP SOMETIMES, IS, 'WELL, I CAN'T PROGRAM,' OR, 'I CAN'T DO THE BUSINESS SIDE OF THINGS,' AND IT'S IMPORTANT TO REALIZE THAT IT TAKES, DEFINITELY, A GREAT TEAM OF PEOPLE TO ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

AND SO I STARTED, YOU KNOW, KIND OF BUILDING PROTOTYPES IN MY GARAGE.

I WAS REALLY GOOD AT SKETCHING STUFF OUT, AND MY DAD WOULD HELP ME GO TO THE HOBBY STORE AND FIND THE RIGHT MATERIALS.

BUT, YOU KNOW, I HAD TO START CALLING UP PEOPLE, LIKE SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS AND MECHANICAL ENGINEERS AND BUSINESS LAWYERS AND PATENT ATTORNEYS AND, YOU KNOW, ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE THAT REALLY JUST HELPED TO CREATE THIS PRODUCT AND BRING IT TO FRUITION.

AND THAT'S ALL NEW TERRITORY.

HOW DID YOU KNOW HOW TO GO ABOUT THAT?

YOU KNOW, IT WASN'T EASY.

I THINK, YOU KNOW, GOOGLE AND THE INTERNET PLAYED A VERY GOOD ROLE, AND I ACTUALLY WENT TO AN EVENT CALLED STARTUP WEEKEND, WHICH IS HELD ALL OVER THE WORLD, BUT THERE WAS ONE IN MY HOMETOWN, AND SO I WENT TO THAT, AND I PITCHED MY IDEA, AND I GOT TO WORK WITH A REALLY GREAT GROUP OF PEOPLE, AND THEY KIND OF HELPED, YOU KNOW, GIVE ME THEIR CONNECTIONS WITHIN THE COMMUNITY, AND SO, YOU KNOW, I KIND OF -- I GOT ADAPTED THAT WAY, AS WELL.

AND THEN YOU TOOK YOUR IDEA FROM iCPooch AND DEVELOPED ANOTHER PRODUCT.

CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT THAT?

YEAH, ABSOLUTELY.

SO, IT KIND OF HAPPENED THAT AT THE SAME TIME WE WERE DEVELOPING iCPooch, MY GRANDMOTHER HAD RECENTLY MOVED TO WHERE WE ARE SO SHE COULD BE CLOSER, BUT SHE WASN'T DOING VERY WELL AND WAS HAVING A HARD TIME, KIND OF, YOU KNOW, LIKE, ANSWERING THE PHONE OR JUST KIND OF MANAGING ANY TECHNOLOGY.

AND LUCKILY, SHE WAS IN A HOME-CARE FACILITY, SO THERE WERE NURSES HELPING HER TO REMEMBER TO TAKE HER MEDICATIONS.

BUT WE THOUGHT, YOU KNOW, 'WHAT ABOUT USING AN iCPooch FOR GRANDMA?

LIKE, THAT WOULD BE SO MUCH BETTER,' YOU KNOW?

'WE COULD GIVE HER HER MEDICATIONS OR COOKIES THROUGHOUT THE DAY OR CHOCOLATE OR ANYTHING, AND IT WOULD BE A REALLY EASY SOLUTION TO COMMUNICATING WITH HER.

SHE WOULDN'T NECESSARILY HAVE TO HAVE ANY TECHNOLOGICAL BACKGROUND TO DO IT.'

AND SO, AFTER WE HAD KIND OF GOTTEN iCPooch UNDER WAY, WE THOUGHT, YOU KNOW, 'WELL, HEY, NOW WOULD BE A GOOD TIME TO EXPAND THIS INTO THE HOME-HEALTHCARE MARKET FOR ELDERLY AND DISABLED PEOPLE.'

AND SO WE'RE WORKING ON GETTING READY TO LAUNCH icLovedOnes, WHICH IS WHAT IT'S CALLED -- SIMILAR IDEA IN COMMUNICATING WITH THOSE THAT ARE KIND OF UNABLE TO MANAGE TECHNOLOGY, BUT FOR YOUR ACTUAL, YOU KNOW, HUMAN FAMILY MEMBERS.

WOW.

AND HAVE YOU THOUGHT OF ANY OTHER POTENTIAL APPLICATIONS FOR THIS BEYOND icLovedOnes?

YOU KNOW, THERE ARE A FEW THINGS.

I THINK, YOU KNOW, IT'S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER, AS AN ENTREPRENEUR ESPECIALLY, TO TAKE ONE THING AT A TIME AND NOT LET YOURSELF GET TOO DISTRACTED WITH ALL OF THE POSSIBILITIES.

BUT I THINK THERE ARE A LOT OF DIFFERENT AREAS THAT COULD USE THIS AMAZING TECHNOLOGY, SO...

I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE WHAT YOU COME UP WITH.

YES. THANK YOU.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US, BROOKE.

THANK

TO FIND OUT MORE, VISIT www.icpooch.com.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GIVE YOUR CHILDREN A LEG UP IN THE WORLD?

A RECENT STUDY FROM COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY AND CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL LOS ANGELES REVEALS THAT MONEY CERTAINLY DOES HELP.

AFTER STUDYING MORE THAN 1,000 CHILDREN, RESEARCHERS FOUND A CORRELATION BETWEEN A CHILD'S SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND THE SURFACE AREA OF THE BRAIN.

REPORTER ERIN DELMORE HAS THE STORY.

SEE YOU TOMORROW, JACQUELINE.

MONEY CAN BUY A BIGGER HOUSE, A BETTER SCHOOL, THE BEST SUMMER CAMPS, BUT CAN IT ALSO BUY A BIGGER BRAIN?

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND I.Q. IS WELL-DOCUMENTED.

THAT'S THE DIFFERENCE IN TEST SCORES AND HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATES, KNOWN AS THE INCOME ACHIEVEMENT GAP.

BUT NOW RESEARCHERS ARE SAYING THAT THEY SEE A STRUCTURAL DIFFERENCE IN KIDS' BRAINS, AND IT HINGES ON FAMILY INCOME.

♪ GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM

PROFESSORS AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY AND CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL LOS ANGELES STUDIED MORE THAN 1,000 KIDS BETWEEN THE AGES OF 3 AND 20 THROUGH MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING, OR M.R.I., COGNITIVE COMPUTERIZED TESTS, AND DNA SAMPLES.

THEY FOUND BRAIN SURFACE AREA, A FACTOR LINKED TO INTELLIGENCE, IS CORRELATED WITH FAMILY INCOME.

KARIN FIGUERAS RUNS THE HEAD START PROGRAM, OPERATED BY ACELERO LEARNING IN FREEHOLD.

SHE SAID HER PROGRAM AIMS TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD FOR KIDS FOR THEIR PARENTS.

I THINK WHAT THEY FEEL, IS, YOU KNOW, 'WHAT COULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY FOR MY CHILD?

IS IT JUST BECAUSE OF MY INCOME?

I LOVE MY CHILD JUST AS MUCH AS MAYBE THIS PARENT LOVES THEIR CHILD, BUT UNFORTUNATELY, I'M NOT ABLE TO GIVE THEM THOSE EXTRA HELPS AND PROGRAMS THAT COST MONEY, BUT A LOT OF THESE OTHER FAMILIES CAN.'

THE CENTER OPERATES LIKE A PRESCHOOL...

IT'S NOT JUST A DAYCARE.

...AND TARGETS SOME OF THE ACTIVITIES AND EXPERIENCES THAT KIDS IN MORE WELL-OFF FAMILIES HAVE ACCESS TO -- BETTER NUTRITION, ACCESS TO QUALITY HEALTHCARE, AND STIMULATING CLASSROOMS.

IT IS OUR GOAL TO GET THEM WHERE THEY NEED TO BE BEFORE THEY GO TO KINDERGARTEN, BECAUSE THE RESEARCH ALSO SHOWS THAT AT THAT AGE, THEIR BRAINS HAVE LOTS OF ROOM TO GROW, AND THE MORE WE DO WITH THEM, THE MORE LIKELY THEY ARE TO GET TO THAT SAME PLACE AS THEIR MIDDLE-INCOME PEERS.

THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP, OVERALL, IS GENERALLY THOUGHT TO BE ABOUT 15 POINTS -- A 15-POINT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MIDDLE-INCOME AND LOW-INCOME CHILDREN.

IN MONMOUTH COUNTY, IT'S ACTUALLY CLOSER TO 25 POINTS, WHICH IS A REALLY SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE.

THE STUDY FOUND THAT A CHILD FROM A FAMILY EARNING LESS THAN $25,000 A YEAR HAS AN AVERAGE OF 6% LESS BRAIN SURFACE AREA THAN A CHILD WHOSE FAMILY EARNS $150,000 A YEAR OR MORE.

SO, IT SUGGESTS THAT EVEN JUST A 6% SMALLER DIFFERENCE RELATED TO THE WAY THESE KIDS ARE PERFORMING IN THEIR ENVIRONMENT.

IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THERE'S NO FIXED TRAJECTORY.

THE BRAIN CONTINUES TO GROW AND DEVELOP ALL THROUGH ADULTHOOD, AND RESEARCHERS SAID THAT EVEN A INCREASE IN FAMILY INCOME HAD A IMPACT ON KIDS' DEVELOPMENT.

THEY STILL SAY THAT CHILDHOOD IS THE BEST OPPORTUNITY TO TEACH AND TO LEARN.

AND THAT WRAPS IT UP FOR THIS TIME.

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UNTIL NEXT TIME, I'M HARI SREENIVASAN.

THANKS FOR WATCHING.

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