High School Tech Whiz Helps MIT Design Military Gadgets

Meet Thomas Sohmers, the 15-year-old computer whiz who hacks defunct tablet computers for fun, collaborates on military technology concepts with MIT, and wants to start his own company.

Sohmers made a splash at MIT when he showed off a head-mounted display he’d made for a student he met through a school “buddy” program that matches interested high school kids with college mentors, according to the Boston Herald.

The incident landed him an invitation to a meeting of the MIT Entrepreneurs Club where he met Kurt Keville, the coordinator of the MIT Soldier Design Competition --  who was blown away by Sohmer.

“That’s when I said, ‘Hey, this guy really knows his hardware,’” Keville told the Herald. “And, as it turns out, a lot of software, too.”

Since then, the two have been brainstorming with other MIT engineers about new gadgets for soldiers: making communications devices out of laser pointers and solar cells, and combining multiple Microsoft Kinect adapters to create 360-degree cameras.

A lifelong tech geek with a passion for hardware -- as lifelong as one can be at age 15, that is -- Sohmer’s first project began around age 6, when he worked with his father to make a new plastic outer shell combining his Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo gaming systems.

“It didn’t really get there,” he told the Boston Herald. “I was young. I didn’t know what I was doing.”

Now only a few years later, Sohmers is tackling much more ambitious projects such as “porting” Google’s Android operating system to HP’s recently discontinued and marked-down TouchPad tablet to.

But Sohmer’s ultimate dream lies in business.

“Ideally, I’d like to start a computer company,” he said. “I have a real fascination with wearable computers and augmented reality.”

Read more about Thomas Sohmers's amazing invention at the Boston Herald.