Nirvon Shoa has always been a curious kid.
At a little more than two years old he would crawl into his dad's lap to watch what he was doing on the computer and, by the time he was four, he was already playing video games. By the time he was 10 Shoa had taught himself to create special effects using a green screen, computer programming and game development, 3-D animation and built his own virtual reality headset.
Now a 16-year-old at Heritage Woods secondary, Shoa has a provisional patent for a new web browser application he's been tinkering with for the past couple of years.
Called Mint Browser — a nod to the technology's new, fresh feel — it allows users to surf the web in privacy mode while maintaining their bookmarks, history and notes.
"It solves a major problem," Shoa said, by giving users a way to browse in "incognito mode" with the convenience of having their search history and bookmarks at hand with the security of leaving no online footprints behind them.
He started tinkering with the idea a couple of years ago while on a family vacation in Iran. It was too hot to be outside, his mom said, so Shoa stayed indoors with his laptop figuring out how to make an app (Shoa developed the app for android devices because he'd left his Macbook Air at home in Port Moody).
He put it on the back burner during a busy year of International Baccalaureate studies at Port Moody secondary (he switched back to Heritage Woods this year) but kept coming back to it during his holidays.
Shoa said Mint appeals to a range of users, including professionals who may need to keep their search history private in case their phone is misplaced or those who simply want to add a layer of security to their mobile banking or keep online shopping hush hush.
Additional features include the ability to swipe left to see bookmarks and swipe right to see notes, instead of having to switch to a different app, as well as a voice command function. There's a "night mode" that changes the template colours to prevent eye strain, and the Pro version includes an ad blocker and syncs information with a user's tablet.
The app itself is particularly light on memory, using up only 5 MB compared to Google Chrome, which sucks up about 30 MB.
"It's been lots of research, hard work and determination," Shoa said with a smile. "You just have to put your mind to it, and any obstacles you will overcome them."
• The Mint Browser app is available for android devices in the Google Play store for free, though additional features in the Pro version cost about $1. Visit www.mintbrowser.com for more information.