Meet the Watsonville 8-year-old behind ‘D’ shoes, an award-winning invention for people facing dementia

Bradley Elementary School second grader Kristopher Bayog talks about his invention at his home in Watsonville.
Bradley Elementary School second grader Kristopher Bayog talks about his invention at his home in Watsonville.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Kristopher Bayog’s “D” shoes were born out of his concern for his grandmother, who is facing dementia. His invention helps people find lost loved ones by activating an alarm system housed in the sole of the sneakers. Why the “D” shoe? For detectives who are on the case for grandma, of course. 

The “D” shoe was born in a parking lot.

“D” stands for “detective,” and that’s what 8-year-old Kristopher Bayog thought his Watsonville family needed when his beloved grandmother, who suffers from dementia, wandered off during his cousin’s graduation a few years ago.

The shoe contains an alarm, just like the kind Kristopher watched his dad use to find the car in the parking lot.

“If we had that when Grandma got lost,” Kristopher told his mom, “then we would find her easily.”

Thus began Kristopher’s career as an inventor.

After his “D” shoe won first place at his school, Bradley Elementary, he qualified for the California Invention Convention, a statewide contest that attracted more than 6,000 K-12 participants this year.

While he didn’t place at the state competition, his entry — one of 500 from California — qualified as one of 84 selected nationally. His efforts at the national level in June got him a spot at the global convention next month, making Kristopher one of the five California students who made it to the highest level.

His mom, Kristine, and his dad, Mark, say Kristopher and his 13-year-old brother, Mark Jr., have always been creative and love to read about science. Kristine said the way Kristopher thinks is beyond his years.

“He knows everything about outer space,” she said. “Sometimes I don’t know if he’s really 8 years old.”

After various attempts to stuff alarms into a watch, Kristopher came up with the “D” shoe, which sounds when someone activates a transmitter.

He realized he needed a shoe big enough to fit three AAA batteries to power the doorbell-like alert mechanism. His normal shoes wouldn’t work, but he grabbed an old pair of Heely shoes, which have a small wheel built into the heel and are popular among elementary-age kids.

He took out the wheel, placed the batteries in the bottom of the shoe and the speakers on the back of the heel. The receiver in the shoe activates the alarm when someone presses the transmitter button within 1,000 feet of the receiver.

The shoe invention created by Bradley Elementary student Kristopher Bayog in his home on July 1, 2022, in Watsonville.
The shoe invention created by Bradley Elementary second grader Kristopher Bayog sits on his couch in his Watsonville home
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Kristopher presented his shoe with 22 other student inventors in April. He was so nervous he told his mom he didn’t want to go.

The students answered questions in front of a panel of judges, who announced the winners at the end of the day. Kristopher won first place and qualified for the state competition.

“Everyone was excited,” Kristopher said.

But what he wasn’t excited about was having to answer more questions in front of more judges.

For the state competition, Kristopher and 250 other California students presented virtually. Competitors’ inventions included a crayon holder that prevents crayons from breaking and a low-cost heart rate monitor that also helps with early detection of heart disease.

“I messed up so many times,” he said.

Still, the second grader qualified for the national competition, which brought together 300 young inventors from across the country in Dearborn, Michigan.

The Pajaro Valley Unified School District funded his trip from May 31 to June 3. Two other Bradley Elementary students also competed.

At the awards ceremony, Kristopher thought he had lost after not hearing his name called for a while. So he and a friend started running around and playing. Suddenly the young inventor heard his name echo in the room.

Kristopher won “Best in Consumer Goods and Fashion.”

He said he was excited and “hyper” when he found out he had won.

Two weeks later he got an email saying he had qualified for the international convention, Invention Convention Globals, which will take place virtually in August. He’ll compete with students from Mexico, Singapore and China.

The Henry Ford, a history museum complex located in Dearborn, Michigan, hosts the national convention, while the Invention Convention Globals is presented by Pratt & Whitney, an American aerospace manufacturer.

The Bayog family poses for a portrait in their home on July 1, 2022, in Watsonville.
The Bayog family — Mark, Kristine, Mark Jr., Teresita, Emilio and Kristopher — pose for a portrait in their Watsonville home.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Rebecca Said, the Bradley Elementary fourth grade teacher who runs the invention convention program, told Lookout she’s in awe of Kristopher and is so proud of him. In her four years heading the program, Kristopher is the first student who has qualified for the global convention.

“I remember when he told me the story of where his idea came from — it brought tears to my eyes,” she said. “Because this is what it’s all about.”

She said the program runs after school between October and February. Typically the class starts with about 45 students from second to sixth grades, but ends with only 20 to 25.

“It’s really about looking at materials around them, seeing what they can use, but then also having them start thinking about problems that they see in the world,” she said. “And then from there, they narrow it down to a problem they think they can solve.”

Kristopher’s parents, and grandparents, originally from the Philippines, aren’t surprised he’s made it this far with his invention. He comes from a family of engineers, said grandfather Emilio Bayog.

“I am his grandfather, I am an engineer, and his father is an architect,” he said. “He is very meticulous. He knows the entire solar system.”

Kristopher said he’s already thinking about what he’ll invent for next year’s contest.

He has a few ideas — including finding a way to use light and a magnifying glass to desalinate ocean water. He’d like to help people produce their own drinking water at home.

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