For many of us, the apps on our smart phones, tablets, and computers have a special place in our day to day lives. We often use them to play games and relax. 13-year old Hamish Finlayson is taking this to the next level, making apps that are informative as well as fun.

Hamish designs apps about things he is passionate about. He loves animals and nature and sees how litter can damage them. Of the several apps that he has developed, a few explore littering and waste, teaching users how to clean up their act to protect the environment. Hamish is based in Townsville in North Queensland, and living so close to the beautiful Great Barrier Reef Hamish was inspired to share ways to protect and care for our oceans and marine life.

Hamish also wants to change the conversation about autism. He aims to help people expand their experience and understand how his brain, and those of others living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), may be different to their own.

One of his apps, TripleT and ASD, looks at the issues that affect people with ASD by letting the user play through scenarios that can be confronting for people with autism. The app places the user in situations that might be stressful for those living with ASD, like struggling to recognise emotion or experiencing sensitivity to unexpected sounds. This app and others that Hamish is working on provide a safe space for those on the spectrum as well as their friends and family to learn and identify strategies to cope.

When Hamish started designing games he was just 10 years old. He used an app called Hyperpad, and some help from his Dad. Hyperpad works by allowing you to connect small pre-written pieces of code together to build a game, like a digital puzzle. Hamish thinks this is a great way to start out, and suggests it for anyone beginning to build their first app. Since then, he has encountered a few frustrating limitations with building apps this way. He decided to take his coding skills to the next level and has been learning to write code using GameMaker and Unity.

Hamish celebrates outdoors

Hamish’s next adventure has been working on a virtual reality experience. His new app simulates safely crossing a road, a situation where those with autism are at higher risk. He has been trialling this new app with the help of mentors to refine his product. His goal is to be able to release a 3D experience, which will be a new step for him.

Hamish’s passion, drive and skill have inspired people around the globe, and he has met many mentors who have helped him grow and develop his skills. Hamish believes that anyone can be an entrepreneur if they have the drive and creativity to approach a problem and try to find a solution. He recommends giving it a go, asking for help when you need it and just putting yourself out there.

How do you follow your passions? Tell us your story.

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