From the nephew of Invention: Innovation

The latest issue of Law Enforcement Product News, still warm from the printers, recently flopped on my desk. Highlights of the edition are products for your vehicle and your training (not combined, however a few do make that crossover - EasyDrift for one).

I recently came across an announcement that would have matched this issue very well. It seems to have the best interest in safety first-hand and the best part is the seemingly simple design. But I'll start with the back story first; the inventor kindly shared with me his tale of inspiration.

Spoiler: With one quick mistake, this could have ended much differently. Pain, injury and/or loss of life could have been the result. I believe that fact drove the new product along.

While riding on a major motorway, sections of the road - probably due to the climate - started to become slippery. Anyone on the road can appreciate the gravity of the situation. Even here in Wisconsin people seem to forget that slowing down just a bit will get you to work faster than the tow-truck pulling you out of a snow-filled ditch.

A slick road isn't too dramatic, especially for four wheels, but this story is about two. Stephen Hunter (inventor) was riding his motorcycle August 2010, and stuck behind a van going roughly 40 mph. 

His story ended up lucky. After checking his blind spots and attempting to change lanes he narrowly missed being hit by a vehicle - one he did not see moments later. Later he had an idea for a concave/convex mirror - his kitchen supplied one through an old frying pan. In a review, one magazine called this moment Stephen's "eureka moment."

With a few cuts and mounts, he was smart enough to show a prototype to the local police, "who commented it was a positive." If you or someone you know rides a motorcycle - check out RiderScan. The company is based out of Scotland, you might have to look into your department's approval process before purchase.

To me this is a perfect example of personal experience driving innovation. Case in point, one officer wrote me telling me that he's learned from his years on duty to always keep a roll of electrical tape (not duct or Duck) handy. Just around that time we included a kit from Tactical Electronics in an issue of LEPN. Displayed prominently hanging off a piece of cord was a roll of this very same tape. For me this was confirmation of a good idea.

Just like Stephen, this officer's intuition was spot on. Sometimes it's the simplest of ideas that make the best solutions; our industry is bursting at the seams with similar ideas. Just look at the evolution of video for one. From helicopter aerial footage, to in-car video, to body-worn surveillance systems. This is an interesting industry trend to watch transform (sorry for the pun there).

To the intuitive inventors risking effort, time and money to further safety - thank you. To the officers answering boring product surveys - thank you. To the rare few on manufacturer product boards discussing new features and issues - thank you.

All of your willingness to speak up keeps lives coming home, keeps the general public safe, and might just help this economy move forward.

Be safe out there.