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WV startup serious about cyclist, pedestrian safety

by: COURTESY OF LUMAGLO - A Portland bicyclist uses a LumaGlo Beacon. Wilsonville-based startup LumaGlo, has created a new safety product aimed directly at the residents of the bike-friendly Portland metro area.

The Beacon, LumaGlo’s latest creation, is a Bluetooth controlled LED light system that integrates a belt with high-tech safety for cyclists and pedestrians. An app for iOS and Android smart phones lets the user control the color and pattern of the lights. Also, the Beacon contains an accelerometer-based brake light that alerts others when you slow down or speed up.

The device, which has been extensively tested by its creators, has practical applications for anyone who is active on city streets.

“We go out for walks,” said company co-founder and software engineer Randy Lathrop. “I walk up and down Wilsonville Road, and I came home one day and someone was visiting with our neighbor and said, ‘Wow, I can see you from hundreds of yards away.’ You get a lot of comments walking around with these.”

To help realize its dream of mass-producing and marketing the Beacon, the company has set up a Kickstarter fundraising campaign. It aims to collect $20,000 that will allow the company to undergo Federal Communications Commission regulatory testing and ultimately manufacture the device.

For LumaGlo co-founder Jill Saucedo and her colleagues, the inspiration for the device came when she realized her children would have to walk to Lowrie Primary School in Villebois because the family lives less than a mile from the school. In response to budget shortfalls, the West Linn-Wilsonville School District policy cut bus service for students in that radius several years ago and it has not been restored.

by: COURTESY OF LUMAGLO - LumaGlow founders Russ Lathrop, Jill Saucedo, Randy Lathrop and Ward Ramsdell. “That terrified us,” Saucedo said, “thinking about how our kids were going to be walking to and from school without a bus service. So we thought, ‘How can we make kids visible to cars?’ We know the kids may not always see the cars, and we all came to the table with different ideas on what was important to us.”

Saucedo and Lathrop were joined in designing a prototype from scratch by fellow LumaGlo co-founders Russ Lathrop, a media expert and longtime television broadcaster, and Ward Ramsdell, an electrical engineer.

The company started with mutual frustration over Christmas lights. That led to the invention of LumaGlo’s first product, Freedom Lighting, which is essentially a multi-colored strip of LED lights controlled through an iOS or Android smart phone app.

During a recent interview, Saucedo showed off an early prototype of Beacon powered by a 9-volt battery. In the 18 months since that device was built, the LumaGlo team has switched to a lithium ion power source and shrunk the electronics involved into a small plastic housing they manufacture themselves with a 3-D printer.

“We buy the light strips and build our own controllers,” Randy Lathrop said.

by: COURTESY OF LUMAGLO - A jogger shows off the LumaGlo Beacon safety device. From the beginning, though, they were convinced they were onto a winning concept.

“The thing you can see, what was so great about it, is when you walk outside at night it’s so vibrant,” Lathrop said. “It’s just incredibly bright.”

With a month left in their Kickstarter campaign, the team still is $16,000 shy of its goal.

So confident in their work are they, however, that even if the Kickstarter fails, LumaGlo team members have put so much into the device they are likely to look for a way to pay the testing fees and manufacturing costs themselves.

“Our barrier now is the safety testing,” Saucedo said. “Everything else has been sweat equity, lots of sweat equity.”

“I had the original idea and it has evolved over time with input from all four of us,” Randy Lathrop said. “What we’re doing now is a lot different than what we original thought of. You refine it and hopefully make something that is of good use to people.”

Web: lumaglo.com


By Josh Kulla
Assistant Editor / Photographer
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