A Cape Town software engineer turned the loss of his job into the opportunity to invent a remote control that may just take its place in the pantheon of great South African time-saving inventions like the Kreepy Krauly, the Steadicam and Mark Shuttleworth’s digital security software.
Paul-Boer Putter has invented a remote control that can operate all home gadgets just by pointing, swiping and then clicking.
Apart from driving the TV, Audio Visual system and DVD player, Oneremote can also operate the air conditioner, automated gate and garage doors – and in future iterations it can also work for your car.
Putter, 51, describes himself as a “chronic dreamer” and came up with the idea of a single remote device for all items eight years ago when he thought of replacing his TV remote with a device such as a computer mouse.
But it took him five years to figure out how to do it, and the solution he hit upon was “pretty nifty, cheap and accurate”, he says.
He said for three years he had been looking for financial backing to build it with no success.
Now thanks to his boss firing him six weeks ago, he is realizing his dream.
“I thought about looking for another job and just got depressed. I decided to rather to go for my dream…balls to the wall, hell for leather, all out for it.”
Although he had “virtually no money or resources”, in a few weeks he has gone from a one man show in an apartment to an expanding hand-picked team of five people.
He said his team comprises engineers, copywriters and industrial designers “all working for equity to make our dream come true”.
He said the project has been launched on crowdfunding site Indiegogo is being funded by “loads of small investors from our circle of friends”.
“Things are happening…we are in the process of registering patents on the pointing technology.
“We are starting to get ready to build the first working version of the product. We have been approached by our first hardware manufacturer who is keen to integrate the tech…its business at the speed of light.”
Putter is hoping to raise R50 000 in his first round of crowdfunding but would need about R2 million to put the product on the market.
He said his project was unique in the world and it appeared that no one had solved the pointing and clicking problem.
“Some have tried, but are horrendously inaccurate. There are no patents out there either.”
Putter said he had been involved in innovation and software development for the last 25 years and was listed as an inventor on two international patents.
He said his next challenge would be to build an eco-friendly house.
Journalist and photographer Jaco Wolmarans, who has invested in the project, said he was attracted to it because he wanted something that would help declutter his life.
“People like me have a very real need to declutter and to be able to focus on what is really important. We have only so much time in a day. That’s why I believe any device that helps to simplify life has a very real chance of finding traction.”
He said Putter’s invention would “uncomplicate things” and free up time for more important things in life
He said Apple had been using “this philosophy for years and see where it got them. –Francis Hweshe