EZ-Robot CEO tells Thunder Bay kids the future is in their imagination

To hear DJ Sures talk about his childhood, you would think that Christmas was the most disappointing time in his young life.

'We owe it to our kids' to provide access to technology

DJ Sures, CEO of EZRobot, says "the world we've created around us — the internet, cellphones, apps, satellites is the result of our imagination." (Cathy Alex/CBC)

A robotics expert, who grew up in Thunder Bay, Ont., wants to inspire the next generation of tech wizards by showing them what's possible now, and encouraging them to use their imagination to shape the future.

"I'm hoping that I will inspire enough of these children to push technology to the point where it even surprises me," said DJ Sures, the CEO of Calgary-based EZ-Robot.

He's spending part of his summer in his hometown and took the opportunity to speak with a group of nine to 12-year-olds taking part in the TechKids camp program at Confederation College in the northern Ontario city.

'These toys suck'

Sures began his career in technology when he was just a little boy and would take apart all his toys, and rebuild them in new ways.

"I used to take apart every single toy I was given for Christmas and glue gun it to another toy to try to make it better," Sures said. 

"I used to say 'these toys suck'. because I always wanted the robots to do more and I found it very disappointing because I couldn't get a robot to butter my toast.".

'Limitless creativity'

Sures hasn't lost his youthful curiosity or enthusiasm about what robots can potentially do.

"One of our staff made a robot that can feed him Cheerios, on voice command," said Sures. "When you work for a robot company, that's actually called work."

A young DJ Sures liked to experiment with robots by tearing apart mechanical toys and rebuilding them with parts from other toys. (

Sures believes it's crucial to let children play at the type of work he does.

"We forget the limitless creativity we have. As adults we've heard the word 'no' so many times, but children haven't heard it," Sures said.

"We forget we were once those children. The world we've created around us — the internet, cellphones, apps, satellites is the result of our imagination."

"Because technology is more accessible, giving the children that power to be able to form and shape their own future…[with ideas from] science fiction, movies like Wall-E...We've already promised them robots, so we kind of owe it to them," he said.

Many organizations and experts have voiced concern about the detrimental effects of kids spending so much of their day playing on computer screens,.

EZ-Robot CEO DJ Sures works with 9-year-old Jack Irwin, of TechKids summer camp in Thunder Bay, Ont., to program a robot to identify the colour of his water bottle (Cathy Alex/CBC)

That's why it's crucial that technology be merged with creativity and activity so that it produces some kind of result, said Sures, citing the current Pokemon Go craze. 

"They're out out of the house, they're learning about their environment, the city they live in but what they're also doing is they're engaging with technology at a level that, as adults, we don't' understand," he said. "Telling them to stop can do more damage than good."

Sures believes that children's immersion in technology gives them a comfort level from which great innovation can emerge.

"With the technology that is going to result from them staring at a screen is cleaner fuel, cleaner energies, safer work environments, mining for resources on asteroids."

"The future is limitless because it's their future, not ours, we have to remember that."