A 17-year-old made messaging easier for those who are deaf. And he wasn't even trying to.

17 -year-old entrepreneur Mateusz Mach had a simple, fun thought: He wanted to make an app that would allow him to send ironic hand gestures to his friends.

The idea was that he and his friends would know what the signals meant, but anyone else who happened to see the message wouldn't.



Photo via Mateusz Mach, used with permission.

So in May 2015, Mach launched Five, an app that would allow users to trade custom hand signs by tapping on buttons illustrated with different hand positions.

Image via Five App/YouTube.

Then something interesting happened.

Mach started to get messages from people who are deaf or hard of hearing thanking him for making an app that was enabling them to communicate with each other using American Sign Language.

Image via Five App/YouTube.

This idea that had started as a silly way to communicate with friends now had potential to be, as Mach calls it, "the world's first messaging app for [deaf people]."

With that newfound purpose, Mach immediately hit the road competing in (and winning) local startup competitions and attracting media buzz as a promising young entrepreneur.

Mach delivering a talk at TEDxGdynia. Image via TEDx Talks/YouTube.

Next he started to seek funding. And despite the challenges of being now 18 and still in high school, Mach has raised $150,000 in funding in Poland, and the UN has pledged support for the next version of the app.

Five now reaches 10,000 users who are deaf or hard of hearing, and the company is expecting more than 150,000 in the U.S. within a year. And the best is yet to come. In addition to making the app usable for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, Five App is also planning to reach out to businesses that might want to use the app to communicate with clients in the deaf community.

Mach is a fantastic example of what can happen when young people have access to technology, are able to develop their skills, and are free to create the things they wish to see in the world.

Even when the idea is as seemingly straightforward as emoji-like hip-hop inspired hand signals, the unintended consequences can change lives.

Checkout the video below which explains more about how Five works:

Most Shared

I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

Keep Reading Show less
Recommended
via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

Policing women's bodies — and by consequence their clothes — is nothing new to women across the globe. But this mother's "legging problem" is particularly ridiculous.

What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

While sitting in mass at the University of Notre Dame, White was aghast by the spandex attire the young women in front of her were sporting.

Keep Reading Show less
More

Men are sharing examples of how they step up and step in when they see problematic behaviors in their peers, and people are here for it.

Twitter user "feminist next door" posed an inquiry to her followers, asking "good guys" to share times they saw misogyny or predatory behavior and did something about it. "What did you say," she asked. "What are your suggestions for the other other men in this situation?" She added a perfectly fitting hashtag: #NotCoolMan.

Not only did the good guys show up for the thread, but their stories show how men can interrupt situations when they see women being mistreated and help put a stop to it.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture