14 Year Old Boy Jacob Smilg, Builds a Communication Device for His Brain-Injured Friend


In the summer of 2013, while at summer camp, on a clear and cloudless day playing Frisbee in a field, Ethan Kadish was struck by a bolt of lightning. The jolt stopped his heart and the resulting brain injuries left him unable to function independently, making it impossible for him to speak, or even to breathe on his own.

Three(3) years later, in a session of TEDx Talk by 14-year-old Jacob Smilg who is Ethan Kadish’s best friend. The young, smart and intelligent boy recount how he used his young tech knowledge combined with the love for his friend to design a device to help his friend communicate more easily with people after the resulting effect caused by the accident.

According to Jacob the idea to design the device came up after he learned that Ethan did retain the ability to blink his eyes to answer yes and no questions.


Using a microcontroller in a 3D printed case, an LED display, and two big buttons mounted onto Ethan’s wheelchair headrest, Jacob created a simple Yes/No device that Ethan can use instead of blinking his eyes. This makes communication less ambiguous and allows him to communicate with more people.

“With my device, Ethan can more easily communicate with a group and having real conversations makes him overjoyed,” says Jacob.

For some of us who will love to follow up with this young boy. He and his family maintain a Team Ethan blog. Also, Jacob Smilg has a blog on Facebook


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here