June 30 (UPI) -- A 15-year-old inventor in Britain designed a watch to warn users when they are about to touch their faces after both of his parents contracted COVID-19.
Max Melia of Bristol, England, said he and his mother, Natalie Melia, came up with the original idea for the watch, dubbed Vybpro, a couple of years ago as a tool to prevent the spread of cold and flu viruses, but he didn't decide to put the idea into action until the coronavirus pandemic took over the news -- and his family.
"Watching this pandemic unfold on the news, it was clear the devastating effect it was having on people's lives across the world," Max told CNN. "However it wasn't until I saw the severity of the virus firsthand, when both my parents contracted COVID-19, that I truly appreciated just what we were dealing with."
The teenager said his father, Richard Melia, helped him with concept work and research earlier in the year, and he has now teamed with a product designer to create a working prototype of the Vybpro.
The Vybpro is designed to vibrate and give off warning beeps when a user's hand approaches their face.
Melia said he is now in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign with a goal of $74,000 to get the watches into production as soon as possible. He said the product could hit the market for about $111 per watch by September of this year if the goal is met.
The teenager said all proceeds from initial sales of the watches will go toward providing free watches for vulnerable communities and healthcare workers.