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19-year-old Reno resident wins Apple award for creating hand-tracking app for iPad

Malhotra poses for a photo outside.
Courtesy of Vedant Malhotra
19-year-old Reno resident Vedant Malhotra is one of the winners of the international Apple Swift Student Challenge.

A 19-year-old Reno resident is one of the winners of the international Apple Swift Student Challenge.

Vedant Malhotra is a self-taught coder. For his winning submission, he created an iPad app that allows users to respond to messages or draw without touching the screen. It has hand-tracking capabilities using the camera, similar to the Apple Vision Pro virtual reality headset.

Malhotra waves his hand in front of an iPad, drawing several curves on the screen.
Courtesy of Vedant Malhotra
Vedant Malhotra uses the hand-tracking app he created for iPad called MagiCode.

Malhotra said there are benefits to hand-tracking technology.

“Sometimes your hand might be dirty, and you don’t want to interact with the screen,” Malhotra said. “If you’re eating food or something, you can pause the video.”

Malhotra is studying computer science and engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. He wants to continue developing apps.

“What I really like about coding is how open-ended it is. The sky is genuinely the limit here,” Malhotra said. “There’s so many things you can do, our devices get more capable just all the time.”

In June, Malhotra will go to Apple Park in California for the annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning political journalist and the host of KUNR’s monthly show Purple Politics Nevada. She is passionate about reporting during election season, attending community events, and talking to people about the issues that matter most to them.