RATHDRUM, Idaho – He is just 11-years-old, but he is the inventor of a smartphone app that is getting attention across the world.
Alex Knoll created a prototype for an app designed to help people with disabilities. Recently, that idea earned him first place in an international competition for students.
Knoll is a 5th grade student at North Idaho STEM Charter Academy in Rathdrum, Idaho. The idea for the Ability App began a year ago and it has since taken off.
"My idea is simple. To create an app to be used by people with disabilities to help them navigate the world," said Knoll. "It all started when I saw a man in a wheelchair and he was struggling to open a manual door."
Not much longer after that, he came up with the idea for the Ability App. The app would do things like give show users where wheelchair ramps are and what locations are service-animal friendly. In the year since coming up with the prototype, Knoll has traveled to a conference in Dublin, Ireland to present the idea.
On Wednesday, he got some well-earned recognition at home. Knoll won first place in the young inventor's challenge from AT&T and the Innovation Foundation. Around 350 students from across the world, high schoolers included, submitted entries for the competition.
"When Alex was put to this challenge, he came up with something to benefit other people. It wasn't for himself," said Carl Gibson with AT&T External Affairs.
At an assembly at STEM Charter Academy this afternoon, Alex was recognized for his accomplishment. He offered words of encouragement to his classmates as well. Knoll's next step will be making sure the app is put to use. He and his family are now looking for funding and backers to help pay to get the app developed.