Digital Open Winner: teen creates a robot shop

Teen creates winning robot shop

By Xeni Jardin

Institute for the Future teamed up with Sun Microsystems and Boing Boing Video to co-host the Digital Open, an online tech expo for teens 17 and under around the world.

In today's episode, you'll meet Brennon Williams, a teen from Hillsborough, CA, who created an online robotics store for beginners:

The BW Science Labs Store is an idea I've had for a while now, but it has taken a lot of work to get it up and running. There is currently 1 kit available, the Vivus the Robot kit. I"ve seen a lot of those really low-quality $20 robots where you clap your hands and they twitch, and I've seen $400 robots with a great deal of functionality. I wanted to make something in between, and that's exactly what Vivus is. During prototyping I wanted to make a "real robot", one that was autonomous and could truly act on its own, while trying to keep the cost down as well. 
Brennon cited Maker Faire and Make Magazine as inspirations for his work, and you can see why! Read more about the youth competition in IFTF's press release announcing Digital Open winners.

Published 12:59 pm Thu, Oct 15, 2009

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About the Author

Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email:

16 Responses to “Digital Open Winner: teen creates a robot shop”

  1. Jack Daniel says:

    Well if life is a race, I just got lapped by a 15 yr. old :)

  2. Anonymous says:

    musicians don’t inspire kids to create?!?!?!?! get outta here, kiddo.

  3. Reneelou says:

    Congrats, Brennon
    Funny you mentioned FB … my Wall turned into something mindless I didn’t like and got very upset about … so I left FB. Nothing beats a good book, a movie, listening to music … creating, but this I leave to others :)
    Good luck to you

  4. JoshP says:

    Some CNC or a drill press would make the metal on the bot a little more pop.

  5. Little John says:

    Wow, what an articulate young gentleman. And at 15.

  6. rektruax says:

    Great kid… Hope he does well. In a surprising turn, I just posted him on FB. Though I do agree it’s a colossal waste of time for many young people.

  7. eustace says:

    Total awesomeness! A fifty-dollar-retail robot is quite an achievement for anyone, big corps included. Now if it were only Arduino-based…

  8. dnafrequency says:

    Hahahahaah! Look, it’s Wesley Crusher!!

  9. dnafrequency says:

    (I mean that as a compliment :)

  10. Anonymous says:

    It is very refreshing to see a kid this young making a difference and not running the streets getting into trouble! If he continues, he should really go far in life! way to go kid!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    I like how rappers and musicians were in separate categories :)

    But anyways, this is some really amazing stuff he’s doing. Most things I didn’t start doing at least until I got to high school.

    I like the kid.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Could it be due to his large cranial area that he so smart?

  13. nforts says:

    Congratulations Brennon! Excellent interview, you express yourself so well. Good luck with the robot shop. When you are ready to hire employees, send me an application.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Add some suction to this thing and it becomes a cheap Roomba clone – (sorta).

  15. kurtnelle says:

    Kid you express yourself very well. Kudos.