Suki M.G. Howard & 2EZLT at Lightglo Holding Co.
Never Give Up
Imagine you are invited to demonstrate your new technology at a local tech expo. You've prepared for months and now have your display all arranged to best promote your wares. The prototype is working (no small feat) and the people are beginning to stream by. As the hours pass, many have taken notice of your work and enjoyed watching the demo. The day is moving along at a good clip when something extraordinary happens.
You watch as a woman in a wheel chair is pushed toward your booth and on the back of her chair is a sign that simply says ALS. As she is watching the demo, a gentleman from the Apple booth next to yours comes running over and says, “can you strap the tech to the arm of her chair to see if she can use it?” The prototype is taken from the display and with only a few of the Velcro teeth grasping each other, you watch as a huge smile appears on her face as she turns a light off and on using a fraction of motion remaining in her finger. (watch video here)
After the demo she directs my attention to her joystick control board and went through the various choices and paused on the item called IR controller. I looked at her selection and said, “That’s absolutely correct !” as a big smile appeared on her face… and mine as well. We said our goodbyes and prior to leaving she struggled to say to me, “Never give up!”
What technology could elicited that response ? It’s a modified watch device that uses light to sense the user’s hand and finger motion. Several years earlier as my mother-in-law struggled with the agony of carpel tunnel syndrome and painful limitations after surgery, a burning question arose, “Is there a better way to interface with a computer?”
She worked for the Secret Service and had introduced them to their first computer system, the Apple Lisa. This required extensive use of the mouse in order to create the various motorcade scenarios and other graphical assignments which took a toll on her hand. What’s interesting is she had also been a medical illustrator and had drawn by hand the step by step procedure for the surgery she would later endure.
After watching all this happen and finding out through research that carpel tunnel was the #1 cause of absenteeism in the workplace and mostly affected women, it was decided that a solution for this problem had to be found. But what could be a better way?
The “ah ha” moment came when realizing that a mouse on the wrist would solve the ergonomics and placement issues that cause the problems. But how would you push a mouse button on your wrist? Never giving up on how to push a button at a distance, the final “ah ha” moment came when the realization hit that the button could actually reach up to the finger in the form of light. Never giving up can lead to wonderful outcomes.
When I was young there was a time I didn't give up. You see, my Mom had registered me at the Washington School of Ballet. After taking 2 buses from my home in Virginia to get to the studio in Maryland, I came to a horrible realization in the dressing room. They all had blue leotards on while mine was black from my former school. A decision had to be made – enter the dance class dressed differently than the 30+ students or give up and quietly wait in the lobby for my Mom to pick me up a couple hours later? Having looked forward to the class for weeks, I decided to summons the courage to not give up… and just go in.
Half way through the class when we were doing port de bras at the ballet bar, the instructor said something I shall never forget, “Although she is wearing the darkest, she is shining the brightest.” If I’d given up, that wonderful life moment would never have happened. Being able to persevere where others might quit will set you apart and give you confidence to tackle even bigger problems in the future, like promoting a new technology in the global marketplace.
Despite the incredible odds against getting a new technology into society’s mindset, the only way to truly fail would be to give up. Our dogged determination has manifested in winning awards for international innovation which has given us the necessary exposure to get our idea noticed in billion dollar markets. Being noticed however is not the same as a foothold in extremely competitive markets which is the next important challenge.
Once you have an amazing idea and have gotten noticed, that’s when the real work begins in order to generate customers and start taking orders. When the status quo is deeply entrenched and competition is at a feverish pitch, the only way to penetrate the wall of success is by creating a solid team of believers. This team will act as a battering ram to focus pressure on a specific goal to create a crack in the competition. Having been named a “2015 CES Innovation Honoree in Accessibility” has given our team the validation needed to move forward in a big way.
The biggest challenge at this point is how to convince people of something amazing that has never been done before. In a world where the truth is massaged, accentuated and let’s face it, lied about, again the best way to convince people of the truth is to never give up. Time is a friend of truth. It also helps to have a reputation of being extremely honest to begin with and if what is being said holds up over time, it was and will remain the truth.
Do you have what it takes to change the world?
Currently there are invitations to demonstrate our technology at a large chip manufacturer as well as an international entertainment and electronics company. Sometimes the best way to move forward is to join a huge established and successful team that can take you the distance in changing the world. If there is something you feel passionate about and you never give up, anything is possible.