Several years ago, Canyon Crest Academy senior Avery Kay suggested that her grandmother, who has Parkinson’s disease and had broken her hip after falling in a cemetery, wear a Life Alert. Senior citizens can strap the palm-sized devices on their wrists or wear them like a necklace, so emergency help is always one push of a button away. But they only come in an off-white color.
“She said she did not like the appearance of it, and would not be seen wearing one,” said Kay, 17, who was in middle school at the time and saw an opportunity.
Over the past few years, Kay, a Rancho Santa Fe resident, designed a hibiscus flower life alert cover to give it a little more flair. On Oct. 8, a little more than two years after filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, she received a design patent.
“It felt good when it finally got approved,” said Kay, adding that her new product earned the approval of her grandmother. “She thinks this is a really good idea for herself and other seniors out there.”
Kay said she’s considering a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money to produce and sell her product. She also said she’d like to appear on “Shark Tank,” her favorite TV show, to pitch the idea.
Kay and her family also own federally registered trademarks associated with an apparel company she started in sixth grade, NVRT Athletics. She said her interest in design first started with the T-shirts and other products she made for that company, and she wants to use her newest creation to help close the gender divide in the business world.
According to a report by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office released in February, the percentage of patents that included at least one woman as an inventor grew from 7% in the 1980s to 21% by 2016. But women inventors represented only 12% of all inventors on patents granted in 2016. Kay said one of her recent business classes was 90% male, and that disparity made the work more challenging.
“I definitely want to change that by encouraging other females to become inventors as well,” she said.