American Inventor 5/4 Recap - Now With More Tears
Welcome to this week’s Inventor recap! It’s double the fun tonight, as ABC has taken pity upon its viewers and combined the last two semi-finals shows into one. The first hour will be Peter’s picks, with Doug taking the final hour. Peter has chosen the Headliner, Word Ace, and the Toner Belt, while Doug will mentor the creators of the Restroom Door Clip, the Flush Pure, and the Spherical Safety Seat. Let’s see if your favorites will make it through this round and into the finals....
Maybe Richard Simmons Could Help
Bobby Amore and his Toner Belt is up first. I remember this one mainly for the goofy clip they had during the auditions when Doug was trying it out and Mary Lou was supposedly giving him goo-goo eyes. Anyway. Bobby was inspired to create this after his parents suffered from heart trouble, and meant it to be “cardio for beginners.” Peter’s advice to him is to make it idiot proof and keep his focus. Taking the Belt to his first focus group, Bobby was disappointed with the comments that it looked like a toy and wasn’t much of a workout. Bobby took the contraption to his design team but was less than thrilled with the results, and took a gamble by hiring another team, hoping to choose the best of the two. It’s time for the big reveal, and....both products look pretty much the same! He ended up choosing the first team’s design and the second team’s packaging, and prepared to make his final presentation to the judges.
Sweating the Small Stuff
Jodi Pliska is next with her Headliner. Jodi suffers from alopecia, and originally created the absorbent pad to help cancer and alopecia patients. Peter tells her that she should try to expand her market to include the military, firefighters, and such. Jodi has the first focus group that “got it” and thought her invention would be a great benefit to the aforementioned groups, adding that athletes may use it also. Jodi’s meeting with her design group didn’t go nearly as well, however, because the group wanted to jazz up the pad with gels and other ways to cool the head. Jodi insisted on keeping it simple, and the team called in an expert on panty liners (how’s that for a job description?) to help with the product design. In what seems to be a prerequisite for this show, Jodi finds out she has lost her job, too. I wonder if anyone has kept both their job and house on this show.
Gentlemen, We Can Rebuild Him
Last up is Ed Hall with the Word Ace. Peter tells the very earnest Ed that he needs to make his invention fun to make sure the kids will remain interested, and to possibly make it bilingual to appeal to a wider market. Ed takes the electronic toy to his focus group and gets the typical response - one little girl said she wouldn’t play, and another said the speaker wasn’t very good. Taking the game to his design company, Ed is upset to discover that the team will have to tear his prototype apart to make it better. How else did he expect them to build a finished model? He grudgingly complies, and the team finds that he is missing some files and needs a new circuit board. In tears, Ed calls his mother for support before making his final presentation.
It’s final presentation time, and Ed is up first. His design team did a great job with the Word Ace, and he shows the judges his clip of kids playing the new and improved game. After a learning curve, the kids couldn’t get enough of the toy. Judge Ed thought it was great, but Doug was worried about the $50price (hasn’t he checked the price of a Gameboy recently?). Bobby’s Toner Belt is next, and his clip shows some mall shoppers trying it out. I’m just hoping we won’t see another malfunction like last week, where they poor guy got smacked with the broken cord. The Belt holds together, but gets mixed reviews from the shoppers. Doug likes it, but Ed thinks it will end up collecting dust in someone’s closet. Last up is Jodi, who has made three designs to market: one for kids, one for medical patients, and one for professionals like firefighters and military. Her clip showed wig-wearing women and firefighters trying it out, and both groups gave it good reviews. The judges wondered whether people would pay $1 apiece to wear them, however. Peter must make his final decision, and after much thought decides on the Word Ace, believing it will become America’s best selling electronic game. We'll see.
Bathroom Survival 101
But wait, we’re not done yet! It’s the all-knowing Doug’s turn to mentor his three picks, and the first victim is Sharon Clemons with the Restroom Door Clip. After jokingly asking her if she ever thought she’d make it this far, Doug tells her that he would like to see her make a “Bathroom Survival Kit.” Hey, with some of the rest stop bathrooms I’ve seen, you could use a survival kit in there. *shiver* Sharon’s focus group gives the usual lukewarm response, saying it looks too weak and they’d rather buy it as part of a kit. Disappointed in the responses, she takes her clip to the design team but thinks they are too “off in left field” for her, and fires them. After finding another company to work with, she is much more pleased with the results - a nifty little eyeglass-case sized travel case, complete with necessary toiletries.
Janusz Liberkowski is next with his Spherical Safety Seat, and Doug wants him to find the best tech geek out there to ensure that the physics fo the seat will truly work, and to come up with another name for the seat. The focus group trashes the car seat, saying that it is too big to fit in the back seat of a four door car (the thing is almost as big as a Mini) and that cosmetically, “it sucks”. Ouch. Janusz takes it to his design team and they decide to make a test model, but they find it difficult to make what he wants in only a week. Somehow they manage, and a much nicer version of the safety seat is revealed.
Preventing Cooties Across America
Last up is Joseph and Jennifer Safuto with the Flush Pure. Doug would like them to come up with some pictures, and tells the duo to get serious because their last presentation was hideous. No more magic tricks! The focus group doesn’t care for the design, with most people not believing it will truly purify the air. They take the invention to their design group, but Joe blows his top when he sees their prototype. The vent was made smaller, and Joe begins cursing like a madman. Professionalism flies out the window as he slams the seat down on the table and one of the design team members walks out. Nice. Joe eventually goes back to apologize, and they go to a pitch coach to get help with their presentation. Finally, the design team comes up with a prototype that pleases Joe and Jennifer, and they go to make their case before the judges.
It’s final plea time, and the inventors go up before the panel of judges. Joe and Jenn are first, and show the judges some rather disturbing pictures of how much spray is released with each toilet flush. All I have to say is, eww. They show a clip of the seat being tested in a bachelor pad, with a lab testing the presence of bacteria before the seat’s use and after. The tests show a reduction in bacteria growth, but the judges point out that consumers will have to put the seat down before flushing for it to work. Women still can’t get most guys to put the seat down, and this is a disadvantage in the judge’s eyes. Sharon’s presentation is next, and her new kit includes a sturdier clip with assorted wipes. Her video shows women trying the product out in a test bathroom stall, to mixed results. The clip was not strong enough to hold some purses, but seemed to keep the door shut in most cases. Sharon tells the judges that more than 50% of women she asked would buy the kit, and Doug appears to like the idea. Janusz is last to present, and shows the judges his video clip of the seat being put to the test in a real accident. The data from the crash test dummy reveals that it does work, indeed, but the judges are worried about the size of the seat. After deliberating, Doug comes to a decision....he chooses the Spherical Safety Seat. I still have my doubts about the practicality of this thing, but what do I know.
That’s it for the semi-finals. Tune in next week as the four finalists must make a 30 second commercial for their invention, and you (yes, you!) get to vote on who will win the million bucks. I’m sure there will be lots of crying and yet another sappy song we’ll be forced to listen to. See you then!
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