He is 17 years old.
But Nick Entin of Palos Verdes isnâ€™t just another high school skier, though thereâ€™s nothing in his outward appearance to suggest otherwise.
And then he whips out his iPhone. On it is his imaginative, 99-cent iPhone application, called Emergency Beacon. With one push of a button he can connect with first responders in case of an emergency.
â€śHeâ€™s got an engineering mind, but heâ€™s leaned to make software applications,â€ť said his dad, Lou, an engineer at Raytheon, the major American defense contractor and industrial corporation with core manufacturing concentrations in weapons and military and commercial electronics.
â€śHeâ€™s got a very physics and mathematics mind,â€ť he said. â€śBut all the software activity heâ€™s picked up on his own. Iâ€™m a circuits kind of guy, on the systems side of things.â€ť
Louâ€™s a smart guy, but his eyes just about popped out of their sockets when he saw what his son had created last summer.
â€śAll of a sudden I looked up and heâ€™d written this application. I can tell him how computers work, but Iâ€™m not on the software end of things. We (along with mom Sue) are pretty proud of him.â€ť
Nick began his work on Emergency Beacon a year ago as he stood atop Mammoth Mountain. Last season was a record year for snowfall, and though heâ€™s been skiing since he was 4 years old, he said he knew conditions were gnarly up there at the top.
â€śI was on top of the mountain and I was thinking what would happen if there was an avalanche or something and youâ€™re need of help and no one knows exactly where you are.
â€śIâ€™ve always been interested in computers and computing. I wanted some type of emergency tool, so I started looking into it. Was it possible? How hard would be? I already had the skills to do it and started working on it. Iâ€™ve always been interested in computers ever since I was a little kid.â€ť
He said he spent last summer learning the ins and outs of writing an iPhone application, and not just the code writing. There were business decisions to be made if this was going to work.
The application also had to meet Appleâ€™s licensing procedures. He had to learn marketing, too.
Of the application itself, Entin said, â€śItâ€™s fairly reliable, but it depends on where you are. How accurate itâ€™s going to be is based on the device itself, and I canâ€™t control that. It needs to reach GPS.
â€śBut itâ€™s as accurate as any GPS device like this. Youâ€™re not going to be able find anything on an iPhone thatâ€™s more accurate. I know you can find something thatâ€™s more accurate, with a specified app for that.
But for a device that you already carry, itâ€™s about as accurate as you can get.â€ť
The application is ridiculously easy to use, and itâ€™s not just for skiing. If youâ€™re in the outdoors backpacking or fly-fishing, users can use Emergency Beacon for that, too.
If your vehicle is not quipped with GoldStar GPS device, you can use Entinâ€™s application for that as well.
â€śThe original one took a couple of months over my summer break, but itâ€™s gone through couple of revisions since then. People suggested I should add that and maybe you should add this.
â€śI get a lot of feedback through my website. But if thereâ€™s a problem I can adjust that. Iâ€™m on version 2.1 right now.â€ť
He also has a spiffy marketing brochure, a contact at Scouting magazine, and heâ€™s been featured on at least two Los Angeles television stations.
â€śIn the beginning it was kind of daunting,â€ť he said. â€śThere are so many things you have to do. I wrote thousands of lines of code.â€ť
Next up for Entin is to write an application for Android, and he said he will begin work on that in the coming summer.
First, he has to complete on more year of high school, search for a college that can satisfy his computer skills and also offer a top-drawer business curriculum.
â€śMy aim eventually is that I want to run my own company in software service,â€ť he said.
Plus he has to finish Walter Isaacsonâ€™s biography on Steve Jobs, perfect his fly-fishing, backpacking and other outdoor activities, along with writing code and creating websitesâ€”another business venture he is involved in.
For now, though, he can take a school vacation breather and market Emergency Beacon.
â€śItâ€™s a real useful tool for people who need help,â€ť he said. â€śIt has the potential for saving for your life and itâ€™s only 99 cents.â€ť