April 15, 2024

Meet The Black Teen Developing A Potentially Life-Saving Stroke-Detecting Watch

Naya Ellis

At 14 years old, Naya Ellis of New Orleans has turned her passion for science into a potentially life-saving invention: a stroke-detecting watch called WingItt.

Inspired by her personal family experiences and participation in STEM NOLA, Ellis’ invention has earned her the title of champion in the National STEM Challenge.

Developing WingItt: A Life-Saving Technology

Ellis’s journey began in the STEM NOLA program, which provides an eight-month-long science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fellowship to high-potential, low-income high school students of color. 

Initially interested in developing a seizure-detecting device, she shifted her focus to stroke detection following her grandmother’s health challenges.

The WingItt watch functions by monitoring nerve impulses and heart rates, designed to recognize the internal signs of a stroke.

A Vision for Accessibility

Ellis aims to ensure that WingItt is accessible, especially for older adults who might not be able to afford expensive technology. 

“I want to do something I’m interested in that will also change the world,” Ellis said, according to The74.

Ellis’ long-term goals include potentially entering the medical field as an obstetrician-gynecologist.

Meanwhile, as she refines her prototype, her focus is on improving the device’s accuracy in stroke detection. She is keen to minimize false positives that could arise from other medical conditions.

National STEM Challenge and beyond

As one of the few selected as a champions in the National STEM Challenge, from over 2,500 participants nationwide, Ellis’s achievement also sets a precedent for future young inventors. 

The upcoming national festival in Washington, D.C., will provide her with a platform to showcase WingItt and gain further insights from leading STEM professionals.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.