A Sycamore High School student has been invited to speak at a global technology conference in Vienna, Austria. Freshmen Jacob Smilg will be a featured speaker during TEDxVienna on October 22.
Inspired by his friend, Ethan Kadish, who suffered a life-altering brain injury, the 14-year-old inventor developed a groundbreaking communication device to help people with disabilities gain their voice. The repurposed class project helped Kadish communicate with his family for the first time in more than two years after being struck by lightning.
Video of that emotional and inspiring moment went viral, with more than 216,000 views worldwide. Smilg has been contacted by people from across the globe, seeking a device for their loved ones.
With a 3D printer and a few more electronic parts, Smilg has since made some modifications to the device and even built a few prototypes: one for Kadish to use at home and another for his school. Ethan’s family can ask him questions at home. At therapy sessions, Ethan’s therapists can play games like “20 questions” with him.
Smilg has a Provisional Patent for the device and is now Patent Pending. The organizers of TEDxVienna invited Smilg to their main conference, entitled “Out There” to give a TEDx Talk about his idea and invention. Smilg is looking forward to developing his talk and travelling overseas in October to share his idea and creative process with the world.
You can follow Smilg’s journey to Vienna on Facebook.