Why would a successful computer business owner walk away from it all to become an inventor?
In 2002 I ran a high tech company that repaired computer motherboards for some of the largest mass merchandisers in the country. We had 35 employees and every time I walked into someone’s office they would grab the mouse and minimize everything on their computer screen. Of course, this just made me move closer so I could see what windows were minimized. It was usually Internet Explorer, Napster, Kazaa, or something my employees didn’t want me to see.
One day an employee walked into my office when I was inputting the year end bonuses. That’s when it hit me. The light bulb went off – I had an epiphany! As I reached for my mouse to minimize the spreadsheet I realized that I do the same thing. Someone should invent a better less obvious and less intrusive way to protect the privacy of what’s on your monitor. Everywhere I looked I saw applications for a computer desktop privacy device. I became obsessed with the idea.
Being a self proclaimed computer geek, I stayed late at the lab and within a week had built a working prototype. It worked so well and the obsession had become so great that I sold my company, and began development of the StealthSwitch in an aircraft hangar in the cornfields of southern Wisconsin. This enabled me to alternate between working on an airplane that I was building (actually looks a bit like the Stealth), and working on the StealthSwitch. I had been putting in 60+ hour weeks in my last business and was determined to reach a better work/life balance. My dream was to arrive at the hangar, fly for a few hours, and then spend the rest of the day working on the StealthSwitch.
I am what is known as a serial entrepreneur and this is my third high tech company. In classic entrepreneurial style of do everything yourself, I began what has turned into a 2.5 year journey from computer repair business owner to self taught inventor. I discovered there is a huge difference between repairing someone else’s product and designing your own. I had to learn about assembly language programming, C programming, CAD software, stereo lithography prototyping, packaging, marketing, patents, trademarks, offshore outsourcing, microcontrollers, USB certification, installation software, help software, CDROM design…. the list seemed endless. I built the first few prototypes myself and then outsourced some of the final engineering design. I traveled to China to oversee production and finally in January 2005 received the first shipment – but that’s another story.
Ok, so what is a Desktop Cloaking Device?
The StealthSwitch™ is described as “The Worlds first desktop cloaking device”. It is basically a personal computer privacy product. It happens thousands of times a day – someone comes into your office (or cubicle, home office, etc) and stares or squints at your computer screen to see what you are doing. Before the StealthSwitch™, you had a limited number of options – minimize the open windows as fast as possible, turn off your monitor, hit Control Alt Delete, ask your visitor to leave, etc. After 2.5 years of research and development, the patent pending StealthSwitch™ solves this common problem. Now all you have to do is press the StealthSwitch™ foot switch, discreetly hidden under your desk, and the windows that you want to hide vanish instantly. Press the foot switch again and they re-appear exactly as they were before.