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The Idea (1994)
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05/31/2007 - Ivus Industries Launches Lighting Innovation

It was a dark and stormy night, and the right front tire was undeniably flat. The boxy red utility flashlight, kept in the trunk with the rest of the tools, was equally dead. Fortunately, the small flashlight in the glove compartment still worked – sort of. Its puny output would have to do; at least if it lasted long enough. Care would have to be taken not to drop it, or the light bulb might break.

Ivus Industries is perfecting a new, high-tech flashlight that will cause the dead flashlight scenario to be nothing but a bad memory. Ivus Industries, Inc., a Sirti accelerator client, is headed by David Alexander, PhD, a mechanical engineer. Alexander became interested in ultra-capacitors while working with his students at the University of Idaho on a hybrid car project. Ultra-capacitors are capacitor based energy storage cells that can provide quick and massive bursts of instant energy. They are used in fuel-cell vehicles to provide an extra burst for accelerating into traffic and climbing hills. Capacitors store energy as an electrical field, making them more efficient than our current batteries, which get their energy from a chemical reaction. Such energy storage has several advantages relative to batteries: they have very high rates of charge and discharge; little degradation over hundreds of thousands of cycles; low toxicity of materials used; and high cycle efficiency (95% or more). Once a rather large component, the size of an ultra-capacitor has recently been reduced in size for use in smaller applications.

According to Alexander, although he was very interested in the hybrid car concept, he knew he could have little influence over the automobile industry. So he settled on a concept that Ivus Industries could carry out, and -- based on the new small ultra-capacitor -- that was the “perfect” flashlight. The Ivus ultra-capacitor flashlight is rechargeable, but unlike its battery operated cousins, it can be fully recharged in two (2) minutes. After a recharge, the flashlight will have one and one-half hours of continuous high quality light.

Ivus’ electrical engineer, Erik Cegnar, invented the recharging technology for the new flashlight. They have filed a patent for the charger, which can plug into the cigarette lighter of a car or into an electric outlet. Because of the high rate of charge with almost no degradation, the flashlight can be available for use 23 1/2 out of 24 hours. Battery models typically require so much time to charge that they give about 3 ½ hours use out of 24 hours.

The high-tech flashlight doesn’t stop with the ultra-capacitor, there is also a tiny computer built into the flashlight. The computer runs the switching capability of the flashlight. There is a low mode, a high mode, and a strobe. Because of the computer, the switch can be programmed to flash an SOS, or any unique signature. There is a tiny pin connector in the head of the flashlight for a “personality chip”.

To combat that breaking of the light bulb problem, Ivus flashlight uses three LED’s. “LED’s are white and bright; reliable and efficient,” says Alexander. Ivus developed a lens to focus and enhance the light produced by the LED’s. Other LED colors could be used in the flashlight, and it could be programmed so that each of the three LED’s could put out a different type of light, according to Alexander. In addition to that, the basically round flashlight head is machined so that it won’t roll off the hood of a car. “It is practical,” says Alexander, “every time you grab it, it will work – and the bulb will never break.” Each flashlight has a lifetime of ten years or more.

Although the Ivus flashlight could be useful to anyone, their initial primary market is first responders – law enforcement, fire fighters, and emergency medical teams. There are definite applications for the military. The flashlight is being tested in about twenty-five different police departments around the United States. At the same time, Ivus is developing letters of agreement for distribution and sales. Manufacturing will be outsourced. Ivus is looking for second stage financing to help with their leap from research and development into production and distribution.

Being a research and development company is Ivus’ long term goal. After the flashlight, they want to work on other small rechargeable “battery” products. “We want to do a lot of product innovation, but outsource the manufacturing.” “We propose using ultra-capacitors in products to make them superior to rechargeable batteries. We have the technical knowledge to make superior rechargeable products and the flashlight is just the beginning.”

To learn more about Ivus Industries, contact David Alexander, PhD, CEO at (208) 596-0929 or e-mail davidga@ivusinc.com.

Billie Moreland
 
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