RED BANK: TEENS HOPE TO BE GAME-CHANGERS

creativ 2 101313Tommy Murray, CJ Bevacqua and Evan Leifman at CREATiV MIND headquarters, in Bevacqua’s bedroom. Below, a duct-taped prototype of their mobile gaming device. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

creativ 3 101313Five years from now, if dreams pan out, a handheld gaming device called CREATiV Mind will be as ubiquitous as iPhones.

And just about then, its creators will be turning old enough to vote.

Based in a prototypically messy teenager’s bedroom on Red Bank’s South Street, CREATIiV Mind is the brainchild of three 13-year-olds who count Steve Jobs and Nikola Tesla among their idols. Just a month old, their prototype product is an awkward mix of high technology and duct tape.

But the three – CJ Bevacqua and Evan Leifman of Red Bank and Tommy Murray of Atlantic Highlands – are serious about building a market-changing device.

The aim of the enterprise: “affordable gaming computers that the average person could buy that has decent processing power and applications that anyone could use,” said Bevacqua.

While similar devices exist, they’re either expensive or come with costly data plans, said Murray. The three are also trying to shoot the gap in terms of size.

“If I’m on a train to New York and I want to play a video game, I’d take out my iPod or iPhone and play Angry Birds or something,” said Leifman. “If I want to play a computer game like Minecraft or Amnesia, I would use a laptop. And sometimes normal-sized laptops can be kind of big and awkward on a train. And XBox 360 and console games are just out of the question” because of they’re not portable.

CREATiV Mind handhelds would be about “the size of an iPad mini, crossed between a desktop and a small laptop,” Leifman said.

Leifman, 14, a freshman at Red Bank Regional, knows Bevacqua, 13, from the Red Bank Charter School, where Bevacqua is an eighth-grader. A graduate of the charter school, Leifman used to participate in what he called “little tech meetings” with Bevacqua and others there; with a third student, they wrote an article for the school newspaper on Apple’s EarPods.

Bevacqua and Murray, 13, an eighth-grader at Mother Teresa in Atlantic Highlands, met six or seven years ago at a Monmouth County Parks “mad scientists” camp.

Now, while Leifman’s learning computer programming in the information technology academy at RBR, Bevacqua sees himself as more of a hardware guy, “trying to come up with the coolest features,” aided by Murray, who also handles marketing and fundraising.

Though the three have been collaborating for weeks on CREATiV, Leifman, of Red Bank, and Murray, of Atlantic Highlands, had not met until they assembled in Bevacqua’s bedroom for an interview with redbankgreen earlier this month.

The original version of the CREATiV Mind was made out of cardboard and an index card holder. “It wasn’t that elegant when we first started,” said Bevacqua.

The latest prototype cost about $120 to build, including $35 for a credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi circuit board that was recommended by Bevacqua neighbor (and redbankgreen webmaster) Kenny Katzgrau. It incorporates ample amounts of duct tape.

The idea for the device is one of dozens that cram a notebook of futuristic inventions that Bevacqua has been compiling since he was about eight years old, he said.

“I have tons and tons and tons of ideas that I’d like to get out,” he said. “That’s why I’m trying to get started.”

Next, the team plans an upgrade to a board that would run Android, enabling game downloads, and the addition of a touch screen.

The endeavor is no mere exercise. Through Indiegogo and Kickstarter, CREATiV hopes to raise $20,000, enough to build around 200 units, Bevacqua estimates.

“I know that’s a crazy amount of money,” he said.

“If we raised enough money, then maybe we’d get a 3-D printer to make actual cases,” said Leifman.

“Because duct tape and other stuff is really… not that professional,” said Bevacqua. “Then again, we’re not exactly professionals.”

“But we have to start somewhere,” Murray chimed in.