Chicago Teen Pushes Forward with Invention Designed to Help Others
When 18-year-old Dylan Rose learned the specifications for Google Glasses, he wasn’t impressed. To him, the idea of a device designed to perform like a smart-phone, except hands-free and mounted on the user’s head, seemed “ugly, expensive and impractical.” So, he did what any good inventor would do: He came up with something better. His device, Kai, turns any glasses into “smart glasses.”
Like many entrepreneurs, he encountered obstacles, including falling short in his initial funding round, that threatened to put an end to his endeavor. If he ever considered giving up, something happened during his Kickstarter fundraising campaign that put that notion out of his mind.
“I received an e-mail from a person who has a degenerative disorder and is losing function in his fingers,” Rose says. “The person saw my product and told me it could change their life. I owe it to people like that to keep working. I am giving it my all.”
Google Glasses have a transparent lens that could display content including text messages, maps and reminders using voice commands. The device also may be capable of showing video chats, providing turn-by-turn directions, taking photos and records notes.
Google proposed a costly prototype, but it was never fully developed and was eventually halted.
Rose saw an opportunity to do it better. He formed the company Glimpse Wearables and took what he liked and disliked about Google Glasses to develop Kai. According to the company website, “Kai rests behind your ear, making it out of sight and out of mind. It silently delivers notification and carries out core smartphone features, so you can end the habit of compulsively checking your phone 100s of times a day.”
Rose, a senior at Glenbrook North High in Chicago, used money he earned from summer jobs and borrowed money from his father to build his prototype, which allows users to access their phones by using just their voices. This process is possible through Houndify, a platform that allows users to add a voice-enabled interface to applications.
“My ultimate goal is to get to a position where I am creating products that everyone is using,” Rose says in a telephone interview. “The advantage I have is most people don’t start doing these projects until they are out of college or later in life. I have the time now, so why not use it?”
In an interview with Torch, Glenbrook North High’s student newspaper, Scott Rose, Dylan Rose’s father, says his son is dedicated to turning his idea into a reality.
“He thinks about this almost every minute of the day,” Scott Rose tells Torch. “It’s not so much the business opportunity, (but) really doing something that helps people out and (creates) something new and unique that solves a real problem.”
Rose submitted a patent for the device in September of 2016. He began a Kickstarter campaign on January 31, 2017. In the first 25 days on Kickstarter, Kia sparked interested and pledges averaged over $1,000 a day. Momentum continued to build as media outlets began featuring Kai. At his peak, Rose had 188 backers and raised $25,655. But the project’s funding goal of $55,650 was not reached six weeks into the campaign, which ended on March 14.
Still, Rose says, he was undeterred. The idea that his invention could provide assistance to users with physical limitations was enough to keep moving forward.
“At this point,” Rose says, “I’m slowly embracing the medical aspect of my product. I was hesitant at first, but once I saw the opportunity, I jumped on it. At this point, it doesn’t matter how you get there. It matters that you get there.”