Sep
0

Lori Lite and Stress Free Kids

BY LORI LITE

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Hi! I’m Stress Free Kids®  founder Lori Lite and this is how I created a line of books and CDs designed to help children, teens, and adults decrease stress, anxiety, and anger.

imageAs a parent, I spent two hours every single night trying to settle my young son down to sleep. My daughter developed stress related night terrors and myself became sick from anxiety. In an effort to help my family I created a story for my children that would entertain them while introducing them to research-based relaxation techniques. That moment began a journey that now includes 8 books, 10 CDs, a  curriculum and lesson plans. My titles are considered a resource for parents, psychologists, therapists, child life specialists, teachers, and yoga instructors. My Indigo Dreams® audio book/CD series has been awarded the CNE Award of Excellence.

I have been interviewed and have written articles for several media outlets, including: Family Circle, NY Times, MSNBC, ABC Radio; CBS News; USA Today; Web MD; Stress Free Living; Mind, Body, and Soul; and Job Club with Tory Johnson. I have also been featured in several publications which include Prevention Magazine, Parent Guide New York, Family Circle, Kiwi Magazine, and Aspiring Woman. I’m a certified children’s meditation facilitator and Sears’ Manage My Life parenting expert. I gained national attention when I appeared on Shark Tank, an ABC/Mark Burnett production.

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I’ve just released Indigo Dreams: Kid’s Relaxation Music and will be releasing Indigo Dreams: Teen Relaxation Music this fall. Check my Stress Free Kids website, Face Book and Twitter for updates.

This video provides a glimpse of what Stress Free Kids has to offer:

My commitment to children has inspired me to donate books to The IAM Foundation and Make a Wish Foundation. Originally from Brooklyn, NY, my family and I sent hundreds of books to the children of NY to help them cope with the aftermath of 9/11. Stress Free Kids is currently helping organizations supporting our Military Families, Moms for Justice and dozens of other organization.

More information about Lori Lite and Stress Free Kids® can be found at www.stressfreekids.com.

Sep
0

Pamela Gonzalez and My Tot Clock

BY PAMELA GONZALEZ

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My name is Pamela Gonzalez, and I am the inventor of My Tot Clock. People often ask me how I came up with the idea for my product. My answer is easy…sleep deprivation was the mother of my invention!

It all started four years ago when my oldest son Gabriel was only 2-years old. His new little brother Anthony arrived and took over the baby room, along with everything in it…including the sacred crib. Gabriel was a great sleeper in his crib, but when he got into his big boy bed, all bets were off. He became a master negotiator before bedtime, he required mommy to be in the room before he would fall asleep, he would wake up in the middle of the night (sometimes multiple times), and finally he would end up in our bed.

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This became our routine, which was 100% created by a mommy who didn’t have the heart or the strength to let her big boy keep crying it out. One night…or should I say the wee hours of the morning…I was putting Gabriel back to bed for the 2nd or 3rd time, when it dawned on me that the problem wasn’t that Gabriel loved waking up in the middle of the night and disturbing everyone’s sleep, but that he had no idea what time it was!

So, I came up with what I thought was a great idea! I would tell Gabriel that he couldn’t get out of bed until the sun woke up. Genius move, right? Well, not exactly. Gabriel woke up every hour to tell me that the sun was awake! I knew I needed something better than the sun to solve this problem! I needed to buy one of those clocks. You know, one of those clocks that changes colors, so children would know when to sleep and when it’s okay to get out of bed. After putting Gabriel back down…again, I hit the Internet (hey, I was up already!), and I started searching for the magic clock! I searched, and searched to no avail. The clock was nowhere to be found, so I vowed that night to invent it!

Well, I got busy as we moms do, and I didn’t start working on my magic color-changing clock for over a year, although it never quite stopped gnawing at me.  In the summer of 2006, I finally decided to sit down and put my thoughts on paper.  Within a day or two, I had a full concept document that I was really excited about!

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After putting the concept together, the next step was to figure out what this magic color-changing clock would look like.  I invited my good friend Ben Yin (graphic designer extraordinaire!) to lunch to see what he could help me come up with.  He had two little girls almost the same age as my boys, so he quickly grasped the concept and we started brainstorming ideas.  We agreed on a throw-back style design with a changeable faceplate and a child-friendly handle.  Now, I was really getting excited!

You can’t have a concept without a name, so I decided it was time to name my baby.  Here were the top name ideas before I came up with the winner.

  • Magic Color Clock
  • Magic Time Machine
  • Nighty-Night Clock
  • Sleepy Time Clock
  • Kid Klock
  • Tike Time
  • Tick Tock Toddler Clock
  • Tick Tock Tot Clock

I started calling the concept Tick Tock Tot Clock, which sounded like a fun name, but I always worried that it was a bit of a tongue twister.  Then, one night as I was settling into bed, it hit me…My Tot Clock!  I got so excited, that I jumped out of bed and wrote it down.  It had all the elements I was looking for…short, catchy, rhythmic, and descriptive.  I also loved the word “My” since I wanted small children to love their clock as much as they loved their favorite “my” toys.

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Just in case you were wondering, the logo and tag line came much, much later!

OK…so now I have a concept document, complete with a visual of my product idea and a name!  Now what?  Obviously, I needed to PATENT it!  I picked up all the “patent it yourself” books, read most of them, and decided to hire an attorney!  I conducted interviews with half a dozen patent attorneys in the Dallas area and finally decided to hire a very well-respected sole-practitioner named Michael Diaz.
Mike and I worked hard to complete the Provisional Patent Application (PPA), which essentially allows you to date-stamp your idea until you have the time and money to submit the much more extensive Patent Application (PA). Although I had a year to submit the real-deal, I was so anxious to get things cooking that I went ahead and submitted it a few weeks later.  Mike, being one of the good guys, only charged me for the PA.  Thanks Mike!

In the process of submitting the Patent Application, we also went ahead and submitted the Trademark application for My Tot Clock, which I’m happy to say, has officially issued!  The Patent Application is still in the works (two long years later).

The good news is that you don’t actually need a patent to develop a product; you just need one to protect it.  The bad news is that it doesn’t take much for the copy-cats to design around your patent (or your product) if motivated to do so…as I unfortunately learned the hard way.  Keep reading…

At this point, I am starting to spend some serious time and money on my concept, so I decided it was time to start a company and reap the tax benefits!  I thought through lots of company names and settled on White Dove Innovations as a tribute to my mother who passed away in 2004 from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  I know she would have been very excited about this product and very proud of her daughter for pursuing it.

wdilogo_-_small_01 After settling on a name, I submitted my DBA (Doing Business As) application, and I was in business!  A couple of months later, I decided to file my company as a Limited Liability Corporation.  White Dove Innovation, LLC was officially born, complete with an Employer Identification Number (EIN), a bank account, a P.O. Box, a telephone number and business cards!

Why, do you ask, did I feel I needed a P.O. Box and a telephone number?  How else was I going to get junk mail and phone solicitors?  Hey, it didn’t matter.  I was basking in the glory of being Pamela S. Gonzalez, President of White Dove Innovations, LLC!  My mama would have been very proud!

OK…so now I have a concept document, complete with a visual of my product idea AND a patent application!  Now what?  Obviously, I needed to SELL my idea to a company that could actually build and market it, right?

From everything I read, I knew the big boys were mostly out of reach, so I started researching the 2nd and 3rd tier players.  I prioritized the players based on product line, distribution, and willingness to evaluate independent ideas.  Then I decided to approach the first company on my list!

I submitted all the paperwork to the process owner (aka “gatekeeper”) and waited…and waited…and waited.  I finally called to inquire about the status of my submission.  She said that they were extremely backlogged and wouldn’t have an opportunity to review it for 9 months!  Of course, being a new starry-eyed inventor, 9 months seemed like a lifetime to me, so at 2:00 that morning (when I was putting Gabriel back to sleep…again), I sent an email to the president of the company.  To my amazement, he wrote to me a couple of hours later (4:00 in the morning!) and said that his VP of Product Development would be in touch!

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Two days later, the VP of Product Development called me!  We had many great chats and tons of emails over the next couple of months.  He said they were very interested in the product idea but were in the process of a major company restructuring, so they wouldn’t be able to focus on it for another 6 months.  Well, I was a Mommy on a Mission, who had no intention of waiting 6 months, so I decided to build it myself!

Warning to my Online Friends:  The VP of Product Development ended up going to another company and taking my idea with him, even though we had a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in place and my patent was pending.  In the fall of 2008, his new company launched a product that was extremely similar toMy Tot Clock.  I guess they thought they could design around my product and get away with it.  Thankfully, they’re missing a few key features (like the great bedtime stories and lullabies!).  They may have made the steak, but they completely overlooked the sizzle!

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As part of the 2-month dance with the aforementioned company, I was asked to prove that my concept would actually work.  In my heart I knew it would, but they wanted real proof!  Mommy’s Intuition isn’t enough in the business world, so I had to build a prototype!

The very first prototype I built was made from digital timers, nightlights, and a CD clock radio.  I plugged the first timer into the blue nightlight and set the bedtime.  I then plugged the second timer into the green nightlight and set the waketime.  I set the alarm on the CD clock radio to the same waketime and voila!  We were in business!  (p.s.  I also threw in a red nightlight to test the timeout concept…worked great!)

Now that we had a real working prototype, it was time to prove the concept! My wonderful husband and I made 10 prototypes and recruited all our friends with small children to participate in our little test.  We promised to serve margaritas, so it wasn’t too hard to get them interested!

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The next step was to run the test and document the results.  We setup the prototype in our boys’ room, got them ready for bed, and started the fun task of explaining to them how their new magic lights were going to work. Anthony, who had just turned 2, could describe the colors and seemed to take it all in stride.  Gabriel, who was almost 4, quickly understood the concept, but was still a little suspiscious of this new contraption in his room.  Take a look for yourself!

When the light turned blue, we put the boys down and left the room.  This was completely outside of their routine and did not make our 2-year-old very happy.  He wanted Mommy to rock him to sleep as usual, but I stayed tough and calmly reinforced the blue light / green light concept.  Big boy Gabriel was sad but brave.  Anthony screamed for 40 minutes (!) and finally fell asleep.

Although getting the boys to sleep the first night wasn’t 100% successful, keeping them in bed was!  Both boys slept in their own beds the ENTIRE night without calling out even once, and that was a FIRST for our family!  They were so proud, and we were beyond thrilled!anthony_sleep_results_-_small_03

On the second night, Anthony cried for 15 minutes before falling asleep. Gabriel was very calm and cooperative.  By the third night, they both went right to bed when the blue light turned on without so much as a peep!  This became our new, wonderful sleep routine!

The Proof-of-Concept was a huge success!  Children who had never slept in their own beds were sleeping on their own within the first few nights.  They were no longer waking up in the middle of the night or too early in the morning.  They weren’t negotiating.  They were waking up better rested and so were their parents!  We were definitely on to something!

Now, we needed to figure out how big the market was.  We started out by searching for existing research (known as secondary research), and we found plenty!  Our favorite statistics included:

  • Juvenile Products Annual Sales:  $7.1 Billion1
  • Annual Market Growth:  8%1
  • # of U.S. Children Ages 2 – 5:  16 Million2
  • # of U.S. Babies Born Each Year:  4 Million2
  • # of Licensed U.S. Child Care Centers and Pre-K Programs:  180,5443

We then decided to conduct our own survey (primary research) to understand just how many toddlers (ages 2 – 5) experienced various sleep issues.  We setup an online survey using SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com) called “The 60-Second Toddler Sleep Survey.”  Within 2 weeks, we collected nearly 300 responses from people throughout the country!  Here is what we learned:

  • Toddler Sleep Study Statistics (Ages 2 – 5)
    • 70% of Toddlers Negotiate Before Going to Sleep
    • 35% of Toddlers Sleep With Their Parents Part of the Night
    • 20% of Toddlers Sleep With Their Parents All Night
    • 50% of Toddlers Wake Up in the Middle of the Night
    • 40% of Toddlers Wake Too Early on Weekdays
    • 60% of Toddlers Wake Too Early on Weekends

We were thrilled with what we learned through our research and decided it was promising enough to continue the journey!

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Now that we have proven the concept and gathered promising market research, it was time to hire an Engineer who could create something a little more marketable than my contraption of nightlights and timers!  After an Internet search and several interviews later, I decided to hire Innoquest, a Design/Engineering/Manufacturing firm out of Woodstock, Illinois (www.innoquestinc.com).

I knew when I talked to the president of Innoquest, Bill Hughes, that I had my guy.  He asked all the right questions, immediately identified some possible challenges, and just had a way about him that I really liked.  He became my right-hand for the next several months and continues to be a trusted advisor today.

innoquest_picWithin a couple of months, not only did Innoquest come up with the technical design for My Tot Clock, but they also developed 20 prototypes for use in our field studies and tradeshows.  I can’t begin to explain the excitement I felt when I pulled the first working prototype out of the box.  All I could think was, “Wow…these littles puppies are going to be sitting on store shelves one day!”  I was practically floating!

Then, I actually put one of the prototypes in my boys’ room!  They had been using their nightlights and timers contraption for 5 months now and were deserving of the real deal!  They loved their new Tot Clock…everything about it, the lights, the story, the music, the handle, everything!  Their reaction was more than I could have hoped for.  I was overjoyed!

A great big Thank You to Bill and the Innoquest team!

prototype_3dOnce we had working prototypes, we decided to test the “real” market!  So, in April 2007 we headed to none other than the Juvenile Products Manufucturing Association (JPMA) tradeshow in Orlando, Florida.  We wanted to find out if the industry would welcome our product with open arms.  To our delight, we picked up over 100 business cards from chain buyers, store owners, catalogs, e-tailers, and sales reps, all of whom were interested in knowing more about My Tot Clock!

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My husband and I had a fantastic time at the tradeshow and the results were exactly what the doctor ordered to keep us energized as we continued the journey.  Now it was it was time to get really serious and find a manufacturer!

I had actually been interviewing manufacturers for a couple of months by the time we hit the trade show and was down to a short-list of two.  To my excitement, there were two exhibitors at the tradeshow that were actual customers of the manufacturers on my short-list!

jpma_tradeshowWhen the show started windingdown, I decided to take a little break to visit the exhibitors.  I waited for a good time to introduce myself and let them know that I was in the process of interviewing their manufacturers.  I asked if they had a few minutes to discuss their experience with these companies. They were more than happy to tell me everything I wanted to know and then some.  To my excitement, both exhibitors provided A+ recommendations on the two manufacturers!  What a blessing to have met these exhibitors.  Now I had peace-of-mind knowing that both manufacturers were upstanding companies and good partners to their customers.  Time to focus on the deal!

After nearly two months of back-and-forth with the manufacturers, I finally received detailed quotes for the Non-Recurring costs (engineering,programming and tooling) and the Production costs of the product.  They were within 10% of each other…and 50% higher than I hoped!  I decided to bring in a 3rd manufacturer to validate the cost estimates, and wouldn’t you know…they were also right in line with the first two quotes.  I had to reset my expectations.

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I finally decided on Innovation Design Products (IDP) as the manufacturer for My Tot Clock.  Their quote was very competitive, but what made them really stand out was their work ethic throughout the entire sales cycle.  They worked hard…I mean really, really hard to prove to me that they were capable of building my product.  They worked through most of the big issues during the sales cycle and already had solutions!  I also appreciated that their quotes were detailed and easy to understand.  I felt like I knew what I was getting with this company.  I felt good about them!

idp_team_01So, we signed a deal and got started!  I was assigned my very own Project Manager, Ringo Ling from Hong Kong.  Ringo and his team of engineers, programmers, quality assurance specialists, etc., have done a tremendous job as we have built My Tot Clock together!

At nearly 15 months, the development of My Tot Clock was a test in patience and perserverence.  In my own naïve thinking, I was convinced we could produce My Tot Clock in 6 months…easy!  Well, product development is never easy, and there is always a bump or two in the road.  For us, there were a few more than that!

Lights

Our first challenge was with the lights.  We had to come up with a cost-effective way to illuminate the various lights uniformly across the full surface of the clock.  The IDP engineers found a great material that would capture and distribute the lights evenly, and we were able to print the clock right on it!

Syncing

Our next challenge was to find a way to keep the digital clock and the analog clock in-sync.  Although it would have been much simpler to exclude the analog clock completely (use color only) or implement an analog-like digital clock in the front (which aren’t child-friendly), I stuck to my guns until we found a solution!  My engineers worked together (Bill Hughes and IDP) to come up with a way for the digital clock to send a volt pulse to the analog clock motor at the top of each hour.  Voila…we had synchronization!

Programming

The programming of My Tot Clock was by far the most time-consuming task of all.  We spent months programming/testing/re-programming/re-testing until we got it just right!  All the functions operate beautifully together…just like clock-work!

Tot Clock Treasures

assembly2_01Although the programming took the longest amount of time, it was the Tot Clock Treasures that nearly did me in.  In my own naïve thinking (again!), I was convinced we could implement an MP3 solution and play bedtime stories, lullabies, and wake songs of any size and length we desired.  Although I wanted to start off with child-friendly cartridges, I also planned to set the product up for future digital downloads!  It was going to be great!  But, that kind of greatness comes at a great big price and would have easily priced My Tot Clock out of the market, and I simply couldn’t let that happen.
My engineers worked through this issue diligently until they found a 32mb chipset that would allow us to deliver an 8 minute bedtime story + lullabies + a wake song + white noise…for the right price!  Now our challenge was to get all the content small enough to fit on the chip!

twin_sisters_logoNow that we had the right chip, we had to find the right content to put on it. I went through my children’s CD collection and found that most of their music was produced by Twin Sisters Productions (www.twinsisters.com), so I called them!  Why not start at the very top, right?

I was able to speak to one of the sisters right away, Ms. Karen Hildebrand. Karen was a super nice lady, very professional and very excited about my product.  We agreed on a licensing deal for her music and bedtime stories and we were in business!welcome_to_childrens_dreamland_02

I also found a wonderful bedtime story called Welcome to Children’s Dreamland by writer/illustrator Ashley Paris.  The minute I heard it, I smiled a great big smile and thought what a perfect story for My Tot Clock.  It’s filled with positive, loving messages read in a slow, almost hypnotic way.  I loved it…and so did my little testers!

dallas_audio_post_02Unfortunately, the dozens of fabulous bedtime stories, beautiful lullabies, and fun wake songs were too big to fit on our 32mb chip.  I needed to find an industry expert to down-sample the content, and I found them…right in my back yard!

The Dallas Audio Post Group (www.dallasaudiopost.com) is a leader in sound engineering, not only in toys, but also film, television, and radio.  Roy Machado, the founder, explained all the limitations of the chipset. He then came up with an approach to deliver the best possible results and worked directly with the manufacturer to make it happen!treasures_01

Thanks to Twin Sisters Production, Ashley Paris, The Dallas Audio Post Group, and IDP, we are producing 7 fabulous Tot Clock Treasures as part of the launch!   Children are going to love picking their favorite bedtime story and plugging it in all by themselves.  Say goodbye to night-time negotiations!

As you can see, I have had many business partners throughout this journey, but through it all there has been one constant (other than my husband of course!), and that is my Art Director, Joe Potter (www.joepotter.com).

I found Joe through Elance, which is a must-use service for any entrepreneur that connects buyers with service providers via the Internet.  Of all the freelance graphic designers I spoke to, Joe was the only one who had experience with all areas I was seeking (website, marketing materials, product labels, packaging design, logos, you name it!).

joe_work_02From Day 1, Joe did not disappoint!  Not only has his work been top-notch, but he is truly one of the nicest people I have never met.  Even when we’re on draft 20 of a deliverable, he always keeps his positive, upbeat attitude.  Thank you for all you do, Joe!

In order for Joe to finalize all his deliverables, he needed pictures…lots and lots of pictures!  Prior to the Trade Show, I hired a local commercial photographer to take a few shots of the early prototype.  The cost was a whopping $500 for two shots!  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of time, so I paid the money and made a note to self…find a cheaper photographer!

When I received the first factory sample, I hired a company I found on the Internet called Upgraded Images (www.upgradedimages.com).  Ken Greenlee did a fantastic job, every bit as good as the original photographer…for less than $20 a shot!  Gotta love Google and Upgraded Images!

photo_shoot_2I also had to hire a photographer to take shots of children sleeping, waking, etc. for the website and packaging.  I found a local photographer named Dan Walters (www.applecreekphoto.com).  The minute I met him, I knew he would be great with children, so I hired him!  Just as suspected, Dan had the patience of a saint and somehow managed to get some great shots of three very active tots!If you’re wondering who developed our fabulous website, it was Cratima Interactive (www.cratima.com) out of Bucharest, Romania!  Like Joe Potter, I found Cratima on Elance, and I am so very thankful I did.  They have been wonderful to work with…fast, professional, highly skilled, and very focused on customer satisfaction.  My project manager, Alina Lupu has kept everything moving forward, even when I started to run out of steam!

factory_pic_2On December 8, 2008, the first 6 units off the assembly line were inspected and the factory was released for Production!!

It has now been two years since I started working on My Tot Clock, and we’re finally ready to launch!  Oh happy, blessed day!!

We hope you will be amongst the first to give your family the gift of better sleep through a fun, innovative, child-inspired product!  Thank you for sharing in Our Story!A great big, loving thank you to my wonderful husband, or as he calls himself, the Vice President of Stuff (VPS) for White Dove Innovations.  He has been my rock, my support, and my sanity throughout this journey and has selflessly picked up the pieces at home while I pursued my dream.
Thank you to my dear family and friends for the constant encouragement and support.  Not once did they tell me I was crazy!Thank you to my precious children,Gabriel and Anthony, for being such horrible little sleepers…and the inspiration for My Tot Clock!

web_site_pic_01Thank you to all the wonderful focus group mothers and the cute little testers!

Thank you to my mentors and dear friends Todd Price and Jon Feld for all their wonderful guidance.

Thank you to all my online mentors at www.inventored.org who have been a tremendous source of learning and inspiration!

And of course, thank you to God for laying out the path, giving me a little push, and lighting every step of the way!Thank you to all my partners who helped me bring this product to market!

More information about My Tot Clock and where to purchase it can be found at www.mytotclock.com.

Sep
0

Victoria Hunter Closson and the Headbone®.

BY VICTORIA HUNTER CLOSSON

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Hi, I am Victoria Hunter Closson, and this is how I invented the Headbone®.

This time, necessity was the mother of invention. A few years ago, my new Ford Explorer had inadequate head support because the seat back was too far behind my head to be used. I was uncomfortable, always getting a crick in my neck. Unwilling to tolerate the discomfort, I set out to solve the problem of the gaping void of space between my head and the seat. My challenge was to design a support system that would:

• support my head and neck
• easily adjust to fit me or anyone else using it
• not slide around (very important)
• be low-maintenance, i.e., something easy, without any straps or fixatives, and be part of the seat (as opposed to a neckrest you “wear” on your shoulders)

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I pondered the issue for a while and put together the original prototype shown at left. Although not pretty, it solved my problem and I was happy. Being the perfect solution to a common problem, I assumed it had been done before. I was wrong! As it turned out, this invention was unique and I was awarded a US utility patent for it in 2001. Well, then! What next?

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VisionX Products, named after my graphics business (VisionX Graphics), was created in 2001. We market and sell Headbones (and now, Backbones). If you’re searching for comfort, give Headbone or Backbone a try. I guarantee your satisfaction and offer a one-year return policy.

Our Bone™ pillows are made in the USA. Please support American manufacturing and help spread the word about any American-made products, including Headbone: please mention it during conversations about ergonomics, comfort, or just cool products — especially online, where word can really spread.

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Thank you for reading this and thanks to all my family, friends, and very valued customers for your encouraging support.

More informati0n about the Headbone and how to purchase it can be found at www.theheadbone.com and www.bonepillows.com.

Sep
0

Ruwan Subasinghe and Replantable

BY ROBERT BEAR

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I have a small space in my front yard where I grow artichokes. I loved eating them when I first started growing them but now I mostly give them away. The climate where I live does not allow for many growing options. I love the idea of growing what I eat and am guessing others do too, but I want to grow more than just chokes.

Want to have your own garden but don’t know where to start? The nanofarm is a food growing appliance that is an option for people who don’t have the time or space for a garden. I contacted Ruwan Subasinaghe, the founder at Replantable and asked him the following questions:

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How was the prototype process?

Unlike a lot of companies these days, we didn’t use much 3D printing at all during the prototyping process. When prototyping the nanofarm, we used prototyping techniques that got us closer to the end-product than 3D printing can. We also found it much quicker to use tools like the CNC router and CNC mill. With those tools we could make parts out of the actual end-use material with the same structural and thermal properties that the actual part would have. We also used vacuum-forming, which is both a prototyping and production process, to prototype the water tray that goes into our product. Prototyping this way lets us scale easily because we know not only that the part functions well, but also that we have a good design for manufacture. To prototype the enclosure to our product, we used a hand-operated sheet metal brake to bend sheet steel. Since the only difference between the hand-operated brake and the hydraulic brake used for production is the throughput, we can again be sure that our prototype is already production-ready.

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How was the patent process?

We’ve filed a series of provisional patents on our technology, which we will be using to file a utility patent later this year. The advantage to using provisional patents is that they are quick and inexpensive to file, and allow us to claim a priority date as close as possible to the formation of each piece of intellectual property. The final utility patent will be on several novel aspects of the growing process inside the nanofarm.

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How do you plan to market it?

We plan to rent units to grocery stores, which they can use as “living produce aisles”. This lets customers taste the final product of the nanofarm: fresh-picked produce and simultaneously raises awareness of our brand. We also plan to retail the nanofarm through home-improvement and kitchen supply stores.

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How did you did decide on a manufacturer?

We chose a local manufacturer because when setting up a brand new production line, it’s invaluable to be able to drive to the factory floor and make sure everything is coming together properly. When looking for manufacturers, we considered way more than simply the quoted price. We looked at responsiveness, transparency of the quotation process, and manufacturer size and output, among other things.

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What advice would you give to those interested in inventing?

My top piece of advice is to tell people about your invention. Many people make the mistake of keeping their idea to themselves, for fear of people stealing it. What you’ll actually find once you’ve shared your idea is that there are people who don’t care about your idea (and won’t steal it) and those who will get behind you because they believe in what you’re doing. It’s hard to know if your idea is even good without talking to people about it!

A step-by-step guide to nanofarming:

1. Choose what you’d like to grow.

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2. Receive your plant pad in the mail.

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3. Fill the nanofarm’s tray with water.

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4. Put the plant pad in the tray.

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5. Slide the tray into the nanofarm.

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6. Set the weeks dial and press start.

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7. When the harvest light comes on, you’re ready to eat!

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8. Put the tray in the dishwasher, and you’re ready to start a new grow cycle.

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Click here to visit the Kickstarter Campaign page.

For more information please visit www.replantable.com

Aug
0

David Shaw and LUMINNO Glowaswitch Luminescent Light Switch Plates

BY ROBERT BEAR

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LUMINNO GlowaSwitch Luminescent Light Switch Plates are PATENTED photoluminescent, insulating light switch plates that make locating light switches in the dark effortless while also sealing wall switch holes from air leaks to conserve energy.

It’s a No-Brainer! Why hasn’t somebody already brought this to the market? I bet everyone remembers a time when they’ve fumbled for the light switch…NEVER AGAIN!

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Let’s examine the benefits:

Easily locate light switches in the dark.

GLOWS OVERNIGHT. Long persistence glow-in-the-dark material charges quickly in light for lasting glow when dark.

Translucent glow material allows light to travel through and charge the entire thickness of the switch plate for maximum glow performance.

Emits a pleasant, omnidirectional glow visible from any angle across a room.

INSULATES. Includes a fire retardant foam gasket backing that seals the wall switch hole from air leaks to save energy in heating or cooling.

TWO-WAY CHARGING. The white foam gasket bounces light back outward and back into the switch plate to optimize glow performance by further charging it from behind.

Easy to install with no electricity and no wiring needed.

Because light switches are often located near doors and entryways, GlowaSwitch switch plates also help with orientation and wayfinding in the dark.

Not only are they perfect for your home but a useful gift to give others. I contacted David Shaw who invented the Lummono Glowaswitch Luminescent Light Switch Plates and asked him the following questions:

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How was the prototype process?

The prototype process actually started many years ago when I first realized the irony in needing light to find a light switch in the dark. This conundrum was akin to needing to see clearly in order to more easily find a pair of misplaced glasses.

My first “prototype” was simply an existing light switch plate that I painted with craft store bought glow-in-the-dark paint. After it dried and I tried it, I was extremely disappointed with its performance and that is when I launched into the world of researching and learning all about photoluminescent materials. Traditional Zinc-Sulfide glow materials did not offer the performance and afterglow duration necessary for an overnight application and paint, no matter how many coats, was also much too thin, even in layers to provide maximum charging potential.

After deciding on a purpose-built form based on the new intended function of an omnidirectionally visible, light accepting, and glowing emitting light switch plate, I had a rough, high density foam models made by hand for evaluation.

Later in the process, I created accurate 3D CAD models of the products and was able to have them 3D Printed as SLAs, PolyJet, FDM models for dimensional checks and made adjustments from there. 3D printing machines were quite expensive years ago so it made sense to simply send files to a service bureau and have them made for me.

What was especially challenging was testing numerous photoluminescent materials. The exhausting process proved time consuming and expensive as custom formulations required suppliers to charge minimum order quantity costs to even make a small test batch. So even if I wanted to experiment with and test just a small sample, I had to purchase a full bag costing several hundred dollars. The material proved difficult to manufacture with cosmetic and performance consistency so that was another years long effort in itself to tweak all the variables to arrive at something of superior quality and performance. The know-how to get this to work the way we wanted took a very long time and required investment in actual prototype injection mold tooling as there was no way to simulate it with rapid prototyping techniques. As far as we know, our efforts have resulted in a glow performance that’s unrivaled in the current photoluminescent switch-finding solutions space and it has handily outperformed all the other glow products on the market we purchased for comparison, so far.

Since this was a self-funded, self-developed product, we knew we had to design it for optimal simplicity and value but simple is often hard in product development. After years of problem solving the deceptively “simple” concept on and off, the end result is a product with just two parts (aside from off-the-shelf screws), that can be produced using tried-and-true manufacturing processes. Those two parts offer a lot of functionality from the plate itself being able to illuminate overnight without electric power to the foam gasket acting as an energy-saving seal that retro-reflects to further enhance the glow effect, to serving as a fire-retardant barrier, and, as a bonus, even being a protective cushion in the stacked, 3-Pack packaging.

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How was the patent process?

Since this is my own personal invention project, I decided to go the route of using registered patent agents as they seemed to offer a good quality to cost ratio compared to the 5 figures larger law firms often charge to draft and prosecute patents. This proved to be an excellent value as we were able to secure both a design and, more importantly, a utility patent for our invention but as often is the case, there were subsequent office actions along the way where you, as the inventor, have to review the patent examiner’s opinion and initial rejection and rebut with your logical and considered arguments. Fortunately, we were able to show strong reasons why our invention was truly novel and unobvious. We were eventually granted a utility patent as a result. It’s safe to expect the patenting process to take up to a couple of years, a lot of it waiting for the application to churn through the system and make its way to the examiner’s desk but you’ll be “Patent Pending” during that time so it could serve as some strategic bit of perceived protection and deterrent once filed.

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How do you plan to market it?

We decided to start with crowdfunding as a way to gauge interest and get early feedback on the product. It costs close to nothing to launch on a site like Kickstarter or Indiegogo itself so we decided to start this way first and see how things go. Depending on demand and volume, we could see this product in big box home improvement store, retail brick and mortar shops, online of course on popular sites like Amazon and eBay, as well as marketed to the hospitality industry; motels, hotels, nursing homes, even AirBnB-type short term rentals, or other establishments where guests may need to safely and quickly find light switches in dark and unfamiliar surroundings. There’s also an imprinting business we can do where logos and messages are presented on our product in a unique and frequently seen way. We’ll probably do our own direct sales on our own website (www.luminno.com) shortly after the crowdfunding campaign to accept orders and generate hopefully some revenue while we explore and set up all the other options.

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How did you did decide on a manufacturer?

Having been a professional industrial designer for many years (www.metaformdesign.com), I’ve built up some knowledge in the manufacturing processes used to make our product and so was able to simply compare vendors in those specialty areas. Although we had some connections from past projects, it was still prudent to try and get a few more quotations from different suppliers to compare capabilities, pricing, and quality. Aside from the custom formulated material, which was the hardest part of our equation, we scoured sourcing sites to find alternative vendors to those we already knew just to see what came back and to get a lay of the land on what things might cost. We ended up deciding on a combination of domestic USA and Asian suppliers mostly based on availability of the raw materials, cost, and willingness to help us experiment on the chemistry side of things. Some things just made sense to do here in the USA as the parts were light weight and fairly simple to make and after calculating logistics cost and time to import from offshore suppliers, wouldn’t have been worth the on-paper savings in dollar cost. There are time, communications, travel, and frustration costs other than a dollar amount quote so those factors need to be weighed too.

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What advice would you give to those interested in inventing?

Be prepared to invest considerable time and money in your invention and pursue it only if you truly believe in it and can’t live with yourself if you never tried. It will be tone of the most challenging, rewarding, frustrating, scary, depressing, exciting, and meaningful pursuits of your life. There will always be naysayers but try not to take criticism too personally or negatively. Listen to what people are saying and try to be objective and also extremely observant of how people react and handle your prototype the first time they see and touch it. The initial raw reaction is the most valid because they have not had time to interject reasoning and deeply rationalize an answer, and it’s purely what their gut says. You want to know what their gut says because that is what a customer will feel. Is it love at first sight or is there something else not quite right?

Like many inventors, I admit I was guilty of being very guarded with my invention but in retrospect, showing it to a few trusted people earlier in the iterative process could’ve saved time and money lost from working with blinders on and in a vacuum. You don’t want to go too far down stream before you solidify a design. In general, the further down the process you go in inventing and product development, the costlier missteps and oversights will be to fix. This is especially true in hardware products that require tooling. Unlike software, you can’t upload a patch if you discover an issue later. You might have to recall thousands of physical units in the wild so tread very carefully if making a physical product that’s shipped to customers everywhere.

If you don’t possess the skillsets to do it right and efficiently, hiring professionals will get you there with the least amount of frustration and with far better, quality results. Although there are no guarantees of success in the market for anyone, even the biggest corporations with all the market research studies at their disposal, professional design and engineering will give your actual product the best chance at success (given the overall product concept has merit). Good professional industrial designers and engineers are worth their weight in gold so find a way to fund those aspects to get it done right. Your chances of reaching the summit are that much higher with a seasoned Sherpa. The product is the direct manifestation of your values and brand so treat it with respect and care and don’t just throw it over the fence and expect it to be awesome because “awesome” takes a lot of obsessive work to achieve.

Mostly remember, there is no real failure if you are moving forward and learning! Almost all inventions miss the mark in some way and are improved upon. I’ve already heard some and learned some things just in the few days it’s been on Kickstarter. The world at large will give you the answers after you take that first step to introduce it. Customers will be the spotters to tell you how to recalibrate your sights to hit the bullseye on the next incarnation if you’re listening. It’s a given that you must break some eggs to make the omelet, nothing’s perfect. Another adage is generally true too, most “overnight” successes are the result of many failed attempts; think of what it took for humans to fly in relatively consistent safety. Prepare for a long hard slog and if you don’t think you have the stomach for it, you probably shouldn’t do it. It should keep you up at night if you are serious.

Click here to visit Indiegogo campaign page.

For more information, please visit www.luminno.com

Aug
0

Jeff Wilcox and the Mega Tiny Anti-Gravity MegaVerse System

BY ROBERT BEAR

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My pants pockets all always full. I’m always carrying keys, wallet, cell phone, change, and whatever else I happen to have. It’s hard to be comfortable and look professional with bulging pockets while carring around what I need.

I’ve also wondered why cellphone cases don’t come with a suction cup like feature that would allow you to stick your phone to something instead of laying it down. It would make face timing and taking selfies so much easier.

I love it when a product solves multiple problems.

The MegaVerse is the First Modular Anti-Gravity Case allows you to take hands-free selfies or slap on a wallet, mirror or bottle opener to your iPhone 7/6 & 7/6 Plus. I contacted Jeff Wilcox of the Mega Tiny Team who have invented and are currently running an Indiegogo campaign and asked him the following questions:

How would you describe the Mega Tiny Team?

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We’re tinkerers at heart and our days are a stream of ideas we can’t shake. We see the world as an endless opportunity to make things a little better. We believe that a simple idea from a tiny group of people can have an impact. And if you’re lucky, a big impact.

A new phone case won’t change the world, but the belief that no matter how small you are, you can take something people use every day and make it just a little bit better will.

The MEGAVERSE Anti-Gravity Case is a proof of concept for all of us that small is the new big and that’s why we launch our products through crowdfunding. This is the place where the tiny come together to make big things happen. This is the place where everyday things are made better by everyday people and that’s why we’re here.

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How was the prototype process?

The prototype process for the Mega Tiny Anti-Gravity MegaVerse System was very different compared to many projects that I have worked on in the past. Our company, Mega Tiny Corp started out last year with a successful Kickstarter for our flagship Anti-Gravity Case. The case features nano-suction material on the back that allows the user to “stick” their case to most smooth, flat surfaces for hands free use.

Fast forward to around April or May of this year, our factory began sharing information for the next iPhone (iPhone 7 or iPhone 6SE). We quickly realized over the course of the next couple of months that the form factor and footprint were only going to change by fractions of a millimeter. This meant that we could start prototyping new product idea with our current 6S and 6S Plus cases that were already on the market. This is a HUGE luxury in the product development business and not one that you are afforded often!

Around the same time that we were receiving information for the new iPhone I was pushing an idea within our team that I became passionate about. I wanted to add backing plates as free additional items with our Anti-Gravity Cases for two reasons – 1. They would allow us to give users some colors to match the finish of the iPhone, and 2. They would give protection for the nano-suction material when not being used for hands free fun.

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This was not an easy sell to our team since it added cost with no additional revenue but at the end of the day we all decided it was the right decision for our customer.

Then came the big lightbulb moment! What if we added functionality to the backing plates! This is how the MegaVerse MegaBack system was born. All of our cases will ship with the plain backing plates that match the iPhone colors, but now we are taking it a step further and adding MegaBack options – Wallet, Bottle Opener, and Mirror as additional products.

Prototyping each of these different MegaBacks came with their own challenges. We put countless hours in with each one to make sure they are perfect. We traveled to our factory in China more than once to work directly with the manufacturer because there is no substitute for communicating in person. There are subtle accents some customers will never even notice that make the products easier to use. We (like many companies) are constantly battling cheap knock-off brands, so we feel it’s extremely important to provide the best possible customer experience with every Mega Tiny product. We really go the extra mile with our products, packaging, instructions, and customer support after the purchase and it’s paid off big time with a great loyal customer base!

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How was the patent process?

The patent process is ongoing and tedious as you can imagine. We have a great law firm that we use for this and it allows us to focus on other parts of the business that better suit each of our skill sets.

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How do you plan to market it?

Our marketing efforts are just getting fired up. We have a great partnership with IndieGoGo for this campaign. They have featured us on their home page and in their weekly email. We also have major press outlets receiving samples over the course of the next week. Beyond that we are using Facebook ads to help spread the word.

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How did you did decide on a manufacturer?

This was my department. I have over 10 years experience in product development and I have worked for some giant billion dollar companies. Over the years I have made friends and spent a lot of time throughout SE Asia with many different types of manufacturers. This has given me the opportunity to really zero in on high quality factories and push them to the top of my rolodex.

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What advice would you give to those interested in inventing?

So many things! I could write a book! The best advice I could give comes from advice I have received and used over the course of many years inventing. Here is my favorite:

You may hear “No” 100 times, but it only takes 1 “Yes”. To me, this is what separates serious inventors from people who will struggle. It should never be about the invention, it should be about your passion to make things a little easier or better. What I mean by that is too many people come up with one idea and put all their eggs int hat single basket. Serious inventors, and certainly the most successful ones that I know have 5-10 projects going all the time. They never push too hard or rely on one single thing. And most importantly, when they are told “No”, they don’t spend one second felling sorry for themselves. They move on to their next idea.

Click here to visit the Indiegogo Campaign page.

For more information please visit www.megatinycorp.com

Aug
0

Yair Reiner and Frywall

BY ROBERT BEAR

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I enjoy cooking for my family. From purchasing the ingredients and preparing the meal to organizing and placing the plate On the table. I watch them breath it in and tell me how good it looks. We begin eating and I listen for the mmmmm sound and when I hear it…happiness.

What I hate is the mess and I know I should embrace it and enjoy it equally but I don’t. I’m always wondering could I have prepared in less time and mess. I believe the Frywall will do both and my stove will thank me for it.

Frywall is a silicone shield that rests on the inside rim of your pan. The sides protect your stovetop against splattering oil and liquid, and keep food (like that huge pile of kale) from tumbling out. The broad open top lets steam escape and provides easy access to the cooking surface. Afterwards, just put it in the dishwasher and roll it up for storage. You’ll enjoy cooking more when the mess is less.

I was looking at my stove recently and notice how how worn out it looks, especially the right front burner where I scrub often. I found the Frywall on Kickstarter and contacted Yair Reiner, the inventor and asked him the following questions:

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How was the prototype process?

The very first prototype I improvised on the fly with store-bought aluminum foil. I was about to pan fry duck breast, but couldn’t bear thinking about the clean up awaiting me at the other end. So I fabricated something similar to the Frywall using aluminum foil. In that first attempt, the proto- Frywall encircled the skillet on the outside. I was surprised by how well it worked, and started thinking about how it might be turned into a commercial product. I made several more prototypes with aluminum foil. My big break-through came when I made my first silicone prototype using a two part paste bought over the internet. I shaped it using an improvised mold made of construction paper and plastic wrap. The result was hideously ugly and very heavy (I can send you photo), but it worked like a charm. The ultimate design of Frywall has changed very little since that prototype.

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How was the patent process?

Frywall is currently patent pending. The patent process is costly and often frustrating. It’s very rare for a patent to get approved on the first shot. Typically one has to overcome some pushback from the patent office. Getting a patent often hinges on its differing from prior inventions and on being non-obvious. Both of these qualification are highly subjective. Still, I’m very hopeful that my patent application will be approved. The splatter problem has never been approached in quite this way.

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How do you plan to market it?

Marketing can be the hardest part for a first time inventors like me. I’ve spent the last year working out the design, testing prototypes, finding a manufacturing partner, fine-tuning the packaging. It’s only now, as I’m about to hit the market, that I’ve turned to thinking in a focused way about marketing. I should have done so earlier. I’ve started a Kickstarter campaign, and that is helping to test out new approaches. I have a website. I’ve begun to promote my product through facebook and instagram. And I have a great on-line retailer lined up for a launch in the early fall, which will help spread the word. I am also working to get some press coverage and get Frywall into the hands of influential bloggers and chefs.

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How did you did decide on a manufacturer?

I found manufacturing candidates by scouring the internet, Alibaba, and Global Source. I reached out to about a dozen companies before settling on one. The company that won out was the best in terms of communicating in a clear and timely way, and putting me in touch with the key decision maker in the company (the CEO), rather than having to work through layers of sales people. I got a very strong sense of the person I was working with, and that he was honest, reliable, and ready to work with me to overcome any challenges. Price was also a factor, but it was not the most important one.

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What advice would you give to those interested in inventing?

Be prepared. Bringing a product to market is a marathon, and it will have many ups and downs. You will get encouragement along the way from family, friends, and even strangers, and that will be a huge source of support. But day in, day out, you will have to be your own cheerleader in chief, you own pick-me upper, your own biggest believer. Getting to market will also cost you more than you expect, even if you temporarily become a jack of all trades (web designer, photographer, copyrighter, publicist, gofer), as I have.

Click here to visit the Kickstarter Campaign page.

For more information please visit www.frywall.com

Aug
0

Zac Rubenson and GoHawk…Hands Free GoPro Shooting System with Remote LED

BY Robert Bear

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I came the GoHawk story one evening while sifting through the Kickstarter campaigns while trying to find a new invention that captures the imagination. I can’t imagine jumping out of a pla ne or experiencing any other life-risking activity without wanting to record it intellengently.

GoHawk is a Hands Free GoPro Shooting System with Remote LED that allows you to film your experiences. The following story is taken from the GoHawk Kickstarter campaign page along with answers from the inventor Zac Rubenson.

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What is the GoHawk Story?

The GoHawk came together through the right combination of need, abilities, and good old-fashioned bootstrapping. While popular among pro-level aerial photographers, mouth switches still hadn’t reached the action sports cam market due to a lack of compatibility. As a weekend skydiver who enjoys taking pictures, Zac was frustrated with resorting to time lapses to capture quality stills. As a design engineer with a decade of product design experience, he decided it couldn’t be that tough to create. The project slowly came together, evolving from napkin sketches and feature discussions to CAD designs and custom firmware. We talked to the community and added the features that we thought action sports enthusiasts would want the most. We tested multiple rounds of firmware, eventually arriving with a product that we felt met the needs of our users. We built prototypes on home built 3d printers and soldered up prototype LED cables. With functional prototypes in hand, we began showing off what we had at the dropzone, and the feedback was tremendously positive.

The GoHawk is the first GoPro expansion pack that adds three new types of functionality to your GoPro Hero4 for a better shooting experience:

Remote shutter button input. Save time by only shooting the photos you want, not the ones you don’t. Choose from a hands-free mouth switch or thumb triggered handlebar switch, or use your own switch with the universal 2.5mm port.

Remote LED indicator lets you know that your camera is on and recording. Mount it in your helmet or wrap it around your handlebars.

Auxiliary USB Power Input for extended shooting – never run out of power again!

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How was the prototype process?

For the circuit design I found a company that already had experience designing boards for similar applications, and worked with them to develop a custom firmware that repurposed a board that they had already started developing for a different application. Firmware was iterative and some of the changes we had to implement were for issues that didn’t become apparent until we’d done a lot of testing. While some of the firmware changes were more aesthetic, others were non-obvious functional changes. As an example, I discovered that my cameras would stop recording when I exposed the wiring to 100+ mph wind shear because the wind would jiggle the connectors just enough to trigger a shutter input. We changed the firmware to require a half second button press and this solved the issue.

The mechanical development for the housing was done by me as that’s my primary skill set. I recruited an industrial designer friend to create an aesthetic CAD master model, and then I broke it out into discrete manufacturable pieces with all the required internal features. Multiple revisions of the housing were 3d printed using high-resolution SLA and SLS processes, with small discoveries coming from each iteration.

The LED accessory was prototyped using components from Digikey. The goal was to create something that looked good enough for promotional material, with the knowledge that the production units would be built using different processes that are more difficult to prototype in-house. To simulate the transparent overmold around the LED’s I cut open a silicone nose pad for glasses and shoved the LED’s inside, then heat shrunk around it. The smd LED’s were hand-soldered and potted in glue for durability. The bendable cable was accomplished with 1100 aluminum wire instead of a gooseneck because it’s more versatile.

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How was the patent process?

I’ve worked with a number of top-notch patent attorneys on other projects for clients, so I reached out to them to find out about IP considerations for this project. As I suspected, there’s nothing very novel or ingenious about my product, aside from being the first product of its kind, so it wasn’t worth pursuing a patent. Not every new product or idea is worth patenting.

Conversely, I’ve done work for clients where the entire scope of the project is to develop innovative intellectual property and get it patented, with prototyping and production being distant considerations. Those projects are fun.

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How do you plan to market it?

I’m still working on that. I’ve been trying to find someone else to take on the sales and marketing aspects of the business, as I’ve realized that’s not something I’m very good at. We plan to market not only to action sports enthusiasts, but also to other markets including drone photography, wildlife photography, and general aviation. Another goal is to partner with distributors and resellers who already have good market penetration.

We started marketing our Kickstarter campaign through online magazines, sports websites, and a lot of paid advertising that hasn’t really returned a positive ROI. Word of mouth has been the most effective so far.

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How did you did decide on a manufacturer?

After 10 years working in product design I’ve amassed a large, large network of manufacturing contacts. I reached out to a number of my go-to vendors and found some that were willing to work with me on developing the manufacturing processes and construction for the LED indicator at pricing that hit our targets. Vendor selection was a combination of pricing, willingness to get involved in the design process, and communication.

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What advice would you give to those interested in inventing?

Just remember that ideas are virtually worthless – value lies in execution. Unless you’re a seasoned product designer, you won’t be able to develop a quality product, and neither will some random manufacturing company, no matter what they say. The product design process is quintessential to creating a quality product, one that takes into consideration manufacturing, ease of assembly, cost, ergonomics, human factors, and much much more. If you hire a college kid with a 3d printer in his garage or a random Asian company to do your design work, you’ll end up with a crappy product. The devil is in the details, and the important details aren’t obvious to people who don’t have to consider them frequently in their professional career. If you’re serious about bringing your idea to market, find the funding to hire a talented product design firm to take care of product definition, mechanical and industrial design, and manufacturer sourcing. Remember that there’s no value in being an “idea guy” – at the very least, you also need to be able to raise funding, and preferably have some other skills to contribute like sales or marketing.

Click here to visit the Kickstarter campaign.

For more information please visit www.poalabs.com

Sometimes the only thing stopping a great invention from hitting the market is funding. If funding wasn’t an issue, the project is more likely to be successful and would reach a much wider audience”

Jul
0

Michelle Cazella and Dapper Snappers

BY MICHELLE CAZELLA

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Hi, my name is Michelle Cazella. I’m a proud wife, mother, and inventor. This is my invention story.

Being a mom has been the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. In February of 2005, Super Dude was born and my life has never been the same. He started to walk at 8 1/2 months old…yes he did, here’s proof:

Immediately, we realized that we had a problem. Jacob was too skinny to keep his pants up. That’s right…my son was a 9 month old thug. I bought some jeans for him, you know because jeans go with everything. All of them were just right in the length but way too big in the waist. I couldn’t see using a safety pin because he would likely poke himself with it. I didn’t want to try to take in the waist with a sewing machine because mine couldn’t handle denim. So I wasn’t left with many options.

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I tried Dritz Fashion Fit Clips but Super Dude figured out how to take them off so I had to start attaching them to the inside of the belt loops. Then one day, I was so frustrated because these things would work just fine on one pair of pants but not another. The Fashion Fit Clips were not adjustable. My husband looked at me, and noticing my frustration he asked, “If you were to do it differently, what would you do?” I began to describe to him what my needs for the perfect solution would entail. Within an hour I had created a prototype. It was elastic just like the Fashion Fit Clip, but it was adjustable. Okay, maybe not just like it. It had snaps instead of clips.

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After showing the invention to several mom’s, I had come to the conclusion that I may be onto something. Their encouragement sent me on an 18 month journey of research and development. On June 21st, 2007, I launched Dapper Snappers toddler belts and started selling them retail and having them reviewed by mom bloggers. It took months to build up the momentum, but now this little empire is a force to be reckoned with. Who’d of thought that lil ‘ol no-college-degree-me would invent kids belts that would rock the toddler world? (That’s not to say you shouldn’t get a college education, because you really REALLY should!)

I never in my wildest dreams imagined that Dapper Snappers sell globally. Currently we sell to 14 countries! Did I say we? Yes, that’s right, Hubby quit his full time job to work side by side with me. And I couldn’t do this without him. It’s only been 3 years, and this business is bigger than I could have ever imagined. And it’s still growing!

Dapper Snappers have become the biggest necessity for mom’s of skinny toddlers everywhere!

More information on Dapper Snappers and where they can be purchased can be found at http://www.dappersnappers.com.

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Jul
0

Norm Hudson and the OzHitch

BY NORM HUDSON

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Hi I’m Norm Hudson, the creator of The OzHitch, which came about after a challenging experience of mine in outback Australia…

My problems started when I was traveling through the Finke River Gorge in the blistering Outback Australia heat around midday when I met with a stretch of really soft, coarse river bed sand that got me badly bogged!!

It was stinking hot and there was nothing to hook the winch to…I knew it was bad considering the rigs overall weight, and river bed sand doesn’t let you out easily. So after tires down almost flat, lockers in, some cursing, I realized I wasn’t going to get out unless I unhitched. It was getting worse and by this time I was P****D Off and HOT. So I decided to disconnect the trailer from my 4WD to reposition it on firmer soil and away from the boggy wheel tracks.

The hitch was almost impossible to reconnect.

Man, I tried everything… reversing & repositioning the car a dozen times, trying to push the trailer around, just about breaking my fingers, wrestling with the pin and the 2 hitch halves…. The worst part about this situation was that no matter what I did, I’m damned if I could get the two halves of the off-road hitch to line up, so I could connect it up. Talk about frustrated, I was out of my mind.

This damn tow hitch just wouldn’t line up. So, like any true blooded bloke, when I got it reasonably close I used a tire lever and my big hammer and bashed that bugger into place! Tired and worn out with the stress of the hitch not lining up, I got back on the track again.

A half an hour later I got bogged again in another section of sand and knew I that I was going to have to deal with the same problems again. So getting bogged can be a pain, but its nothing compared to getting hitched back up again. Just recovering from my last ordeal, I was feeling the frustration before even getting out of the car. I was hot, tired and crazy out of my mind with this ridiculous so called off-road hitch. What The HELL..!! It would have made a better anchor for my tinny.

How do you connect a pin with less than Half a millimeter tolerance?

The third time I was coming into a sharp uphill turn out of the riverbed and well… The drama went on for 45 minutes. No joke I nearly pulled my hair out trying to get the hitch realigned. Just imagine trying to reverse a 4WD in sliding and shifting river bed sand on an angles, while reversing, and then trying to line up hitch halves – with less than half a millimeter of tolerance to put the pin through it. I was getting good with the tire lever and hammer and the hitch was looking bashed. I was buggered, you know that feeling when your hands are kind of ringing or buzzing they are so worn out from hard struggle?

Surely there had to be a better way.

This is what got me thinking there has got to be a better way. I have worked in and been a business owner in the camper trailer industry since 1980, and with the experience and knowledge I have, I set about reinventing the off-road hitch. I thought about the situation I was in that caused me so much grief and all the little things like lining up the holes, having to reverse the car to near perfection, the danger of a possible collapsing jockey, being that the front of the trailer was getting shoved about heavily in very soft sand and having my feet under it…!!! and simply the hard work and stress you just don’t want on a holiday.

So after some brain crunching, I came up with the ultimate 15 second hitch. The hitch guides itself together, loading from above, with far less accuracy needed than the tow hitches currently on the market. The other great thing is that hitch self locates because of the alignment tool which simply lines the two halves of the hitch together in the cradle. Presto! OZHITCH is the simplest 15 second off-road hitch that’s easy to use.

More information about the Ozhitch and where to purchase it can be found at http://www.ozhitch.com.au

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