Think Big Festival highlights good things with tech

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  • Co-founder and CEO of xCraft JD Claridge, left, and 13-year-old Ability App inventor Alex Knoll engage with panel moderator Tonya Hall during the "A Better World" session of the Think Big Festival in Schuler Auditorium on the North Idaho College campus Saturday morning. (DEVIN WEEKS/Press)

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    Alex Knoll, 13, of Post Falls, shares the motivation behind his invention, the Ability App, during the Think Big Festival in North Idaho College's Schuler Auditorium on Saturday morning. Alex was one of several presenters who discussed different projects and big goals happening with tehnology right now. (DEVIN WEEKS/Press)

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    JD Claridge, CEO and co-founder of xCraft drone manufacturing in Coeur d'Alene, explains how drones can shave enough time off a first-responder's response time and save lives as he speaks during the Think Big Festival in Schuler Auditorium at North Idaho College on Saturday morning. (DEVIN WEEKS/Press)

  • Co-founder and CEO of xCraft JD Claridge, left, and 13-year-old Ability App inventor Alex Knoll engage with panel moderator Tonya Hall during the "A Better World" session of the Think Big Festival in Schuler Auditorium on the North Idaho College campus Saturday morning. (DEVIN WEEKS/Press)

  • 1

    Alex Knoll, 13, of Post Falls, shares the motivation behind his invention, the Ability App, during the Think Big Festival in North Idaho College's Schuler Auditorium on Saturday morning. Alex was one of several presenters who discussed different projects and big goals happening with tehnology right now. (DEVIN WEEKS/Press)

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    JD Claridge, CEO and co-founder of xCraft drone manufacturing in Coeur d'Alene, explains how drones can shave enough time off a first-responder's response time and save lives as he speaks during the Think Big Festival in Schuler Auditorium at North Idaho College on Saturday morning. (DEVIN WEEKS/Press)

COEUR d’ALENE — It won't be long before personal robots serve hors d'oeuvres at parties, phone apps make life easier for people with disabilities, and drones save lives in emergency situations.

With Tim Enwall, JD Claridge and Alex Knoll on the job, all these things are already beginning to happen.

"Every single one of us wants … the same thing in life. That’s to belong, to feel accepted,” said Alex, 13, of Post Falls. "That’s all we’re trying to do — belong. But for some of us, the world’s constantly telling us we don’t."

Alex gave this introduction upon delivering his presentation Saturday morning in North Idaho College's Schuler Auditorium during the Innovation Collective's Think Big Festival. Alex discussed his invention, the Ability App, which he has been working on for four years and plans to officially release later this year or early 2019.

The Ability App will help people with disabilities and their caregivers safely navigate public places while directing them to reliable services and employment opportunities. Alex has won many awards for his work and is now an international speaker. He has made several appearances on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and cares deeply about human rights and equality.

"Why are you here? Do you know yet? Are you living for others as much as you could be?" he asked his audience. "We're all here for each other."

This session, titled "A Better World," also featured presentations from Enwall, who is the head of Colorado-based Misty Robotics, and Claridge, who is the CEO and co-founder of xCraft, a drone manufacturer in Coeur d'Alene.

"I started xCraft to develop powerful flying machines that change the world," Claridge said.

Drones can show first responders the fastest way to a car wreck in case of a traffic jam. They have the ability to be the first on the scene, giving dispatchers a clearer idea of what services are immediately needed. These measures shave time off of response time, and ultimately could save a person's life.

"That's the vision of what we're building here," Claridge said.

"This is unlike anything else," he said, and Coeur d'Alene is the only place he knows of where these kinds of drones are being developed.

Think Big Festival is an annual event that welcomes entrepreneurs, inventors, venture capitalists, CEOs, field experts and more to Coeur d'Alene for a weekend of exploring the wonders of technology. The festival includes concerts, parties, receptions, seminars and interactive demonstrations at several downtown locations.

Info: www.thinkbigfestival.com

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