Magazine May 2019

Inventors of Arkansas

inventors

by Dustin Jayroe

From accelerator programs at the Venture Center in Little Rock to the hosting of a Startup Weekend in Northwest Arkansas, leaders across the state are doing more and more every year to foster bold visions and entrepreneurial spirit. The five inventors we have elected to highlight this month are the reason for that.

There are a plethora of great minds with dynamic and unique ideas in Arkansas, in virtually every industry. But often, the concept itself is the easy part. Diving into entrepreneurialism, turning your life 180 degrees into the unknown, is the hard part. These five homegrown inventors trudged through some of those fears, broke down walls and speed bumps and made their dreams a reality. 

TACO PLATE

The Taco Plate is a product of Jarratt Industries in Fayetteville. Founded in 2008 by Hugh Jarratt, the company boasts a mission to provide “unique, innovative and convenient products to make your life more enjoyable.” 

The Taco Plate checks all of those boxes. 

The plastic, oval plate features five raised ridges that make it the perfect choice for a meal featuring, well, tacos. The first four ridges form little mini canyons between each of them, creating three distinct holsters for your tacos. As anyone who has attempted to enjoy tacos on a traditional flat plate will know too well, it is a mess. They fall. They crack. They spill. The Taco Plate eliminates those problems by providing a product with the ability to hold each taco upright. 

As if that alone was not enough functionality, obligatory: but wait, there’s more. The fourth ridge separates the entrée (tacos) from the sides. The horizontal fifth ridge separates each of your two sides. So, whether you prefer your tacos with a combination of rice, beans, corn, or queso and salsa, the Taco Plate offers the ability to keep all that delicious food separate, neat and tidy. 

Since Jarratt created the original Taco Plate, the company has expanded to several function-formed food vessel offerings. One of these is the Double Dipper, which is a plastic bowl with an S-shaped ridge through the middle. Following the same concept of the plate, the bowl offers a separation of your dip, from your chips, or carrots, broccoli, strawberries, etc.

All the Jarratt Industries’ plates and bowls come with an assortment of color variations; from flat colors to confetti themed to spice things up. 

Perhaps most notable of the Jarratt Industries offerings are the ones that do not involve its products. In 2015, they began providing one meal for a person in need for each item purchased off their website. To date, they have provided more than 25,000 meals. 

Taco Plates are available online via the Jarratt Industries website and at Walmart.com and Amazon.com. 

NOW DX

NOW Diagnostics (NOW DX) was founded by Jeremy Wilson and is helmed by CEO Kevin Clark. Its headquarters is set in Springdale and additional locations in California, Italy and Canada. Incorporated in 2014, NOW DX created innovative diagnostic health care testing. 

These innovations offer greater simplicity, lower costs and peace of mind for professional care providers and consumers. 

Their ADEXUSDx product line essentially provides a laboratory in the palm of your hand. It uses a drop of blood to test for various conditions and provides results within minutes. The tests under this umbrella include acetaminophen, hCG, troponin and HIV.

Currently, NOW DX has pregnancy tests, three heart attack tests and three toxicology tests. They are also in the development phase for additional testing which will include sexually transmitted diseases, food intolerances and infectious diseases.

NOW DX exists with the purpose to, according to their website, “empower patients and caregivers with the knowledge necessary to make intelligent healthcare choices. 

“We see a world where people have greater access to information concerning their health and well-being and are more comfortable in shaping their desired outcomes.”

Ozark IC

Ozark Integrated Circuits, Inc., was founded by A. Matt Francis in Fayetteville in 2011. They provide custom integrated circuits solutions for all environments from consumer grade to the extreme.

An integrated circuit is a set of electronic circuits, and these “chips” are now found in virtually all electronic devices – from computers to phones and even home appliances.

Ozark IC, provides their customers with complete customization, as their mission is to provide the best offering to meet a need or solve a problem. As they say, “If you feel like your problem is not easily solved by mainstream technologies, please talk to us.”

The circuits that Ozark IC provide are the densest low-power circuits that operate up to 500° Celsius, or more than 900° Fahrenheit. They can accomplish this by using Silicon Carbide CMOS technology. For reference, the surface temperature of the hottest place in the solar system, the planet Venus, reaches these temperatures. This makes the circuits of Ozark IC ready for not only the conditions of Earth, but our entire galactic neighborhood.

They also have ultraviolet sensors of the highest sensitivity that are patented and can be integrated into monolithic IC solutions. These UV sensors are also able to operate up to 500° Celsius.

Ozark IC’s designs are also fit for extremely cold temperatures of up to -200° Celsius or -328° Fahrenheit.

FlexEhoop

Created by Christi Brown of Rogers, FlexEhoop provides an innovative way to workout with inspiration from a childhood toy – the hula hoop. 

FlexEhoop is an exercise hoop that you can use just like a standard hula hoop, but, with its unique design and material, get much more of a workout. But unlike a hula hoop, either standard or weighted, that is made of rigid plastic, the FlexEhoop is flexible. This makes it more portable, space conscious and softer on your body. 

This patent-pending design also enables the FlexEHoop to double as a resistance band, making it a literal one stop for all workout needs. 

Brown came up with the idea of FlexEhoop out of her own personal necessity, saying that she, like most people, is not always disciplined when it comes to working out or is just too busy altogether. She needed something fun but could also be quick and straightforward. Hula hooping itself initially filled that desire, but since it was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, she came up with a better alternative in FlexEhoop. 

“Developing a new product without going into debt or quitting my job has been a challenge at best,” Brown says. “But I believe that God opens and closes doors, so I let Him lead.  I was able to get it onto Walmart.com (I ran out of product), as well as, receive an offer by an exercise product company and a purchase order from Academy Sports.

“This has been a three-and-a-half-year journey that has taken me out of my comfort zone many times,” Brown admits. “But that helped me to gain confidence and be able to help others.”

Rocking & Rolling N Blade Solution

Richard Nevels invented the Rocking & Rolling N Blade Solution in Sulphur Springs in 2017. He created an attachment head for lawn mowers that serves to replace fixed blades with a safer and more cost-efficient alternative. 

Similar to some of his counterparts, Nevels experienced the need for such a device through his own trial and error. After fighting year after year with rocks, roots and other hindrances, all of which exhibit significant damage to mower decks and blades, he searched the market for a replacement. To his surprise, nothing existed. So, he created it. 

With some help from an engineer, John Tullis, and 3-D printing expert, Jeremy Weinman, Nevels came up with this revolutionary product. 

Essentially, the attachment works in a similar way that you may picture a weed-eater head working. Rather than rigid blades that are susceptible to bending and breaking, the N Blade Solution features a bladeless head that six cutting cords feed through. Once powered up, the head spins, and the cords cut grass and weeds. 

To date, Nevels and his team have conducted more than 120 hours of field testing to perfect his product and are garnering a lot of interest, even at these early stages. The Rocking & Rolling N Blade Solution will work in conjunction with any lawnmower; including deck, zero-turn, push-type, robotic and electric mowers. 

“We are very excited about this out-of-the-box option to fixed blades for creating a much safer mowing environment, while still providing the efficient mowing environment that results in a beautiful and well-manicured lawn,” Nevels says. 

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