While a lot of focus during the Web Summit was on high-octane power broking, networking and deal making, the Dublin based creative agency Boys and Girls was helping a group of 11 year old kids from inner-city Dublin attract some attention for a new wearable product that aims to eradicate bullying in schools.
Working with the Solus Project and five kids from St Audeon’s School – Katelyn, Chloe, Ben, Nadine and Daniel – they developed a product called BullyBug, a wearable technology wristband created by kids for kids. Consisting of a wristband, which when pressed, sends a message (via Bluetooth) to an app on a teacher’s phone, the product has already received some interest. According to Pat Stephenson of Boys and Girls, they used the Web Summit in the hope that they would find “like minded partners who can help bring the BullyBug to every classroom in Ireland”. He adds that initial talks have been very positive, with Google a potential partner.
“We’ve been on a fantastic journey with these children; coming from their classroom to our boardroom and onto the stage of Web Summit but we don’t want it to end there. We think the potential of this thing is almost limitless,” says Stephenson. He says that bullying is a huge national issue, with 31% of primary and 16% of secondary students bullied at some time.
Commenting on the BullyBug, Professor Mona O’Moore, founder and coordinator of the Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC) in Trinity College said, “I think the BullyBug is terrific. It’s got huge potential because the biggest nut we have to crack is reporting…the BullyBug wristband would have, I predict, a significant impact on the level of reporting.” Graham Jones, CEO of Solas Project, a nonprofit which works with inner city children, says, “we want to kick on from here and for these young children to be part of something which is going to become a solution to a national problem around bullying.”