A common problem for young children everywhere – plus their parents – has led to an invention by a Marshall County couple who will be finalists in a contest on Katie Couric’s TV talk show, “Katie.”
The program is scheduled to air Monday at 3 p.m. on ABC.
Juliet Phelps will be one of three mothers touting their ideas on a segment of the show called “Mothers of Invention.”
She and her husband, Lucas, had the idea for a bed-wetting notification system, an app that connects a device placed in the bed with the wireless network in people’s homes.
They are also working on a separate controller where a phone is not required, Lucas Phelps said.
Their Gilbertsville household is a busy one. Lucas Phelps is a computer administrator for the Marshall County Board of Education, and Juliet Phelps runs a business from home, Juliet’s Nest, which sells clothing online on eBay, Facebook and VCI.
In addition, they are parents to three children – Ashlyn, 9; John Paul, 6; and Ryan, 6 months. “They are our inspiration for the idea,” Lucas Phelps said, no doubt expecting people to read between the lines on that statement.
Early one morning about two weeks ago, the family was in a rush to get ready and leave the house when they discovered that one of their children had wet the bed.
“We were in a hurry,” Lucas Phelps said, “but we didn’t want our child going out smelling like you know what.” They had to bathe the child again, which put them further behind schedule.
Their invention is devised to let parents know when an accident occurs so they can remedy the situation right away, a relief to both parents and child alike, one can assume.
The contest they entered is co-sponsored by a New York company called Quirky.com, according to Lucas Phelps.
“We were in the running with hundreds of other people,” he said, a number whittled down to 100 by the company. The Couric show’s producers took it from there, he said, and got the number of contestants down to the final 10, then the final three.
People may wonder how a couple could have an idea for an invention and two weeks later end up as finalists on a television competition. Jason Phelps explained that he already had a connection with Quirky.com through another invention.
He has been working with the company on a gas can for a two-stroke engine, the kind found in leafblowers and weed eaters. His invention, now in stage four of development, mixes the oil and gas used by such engines to the correct ratio.
He explained that the company has an eight-stage development process and it takes anywhere from six months to a year for an idea to go into actual production. Inventors may be involved in more than one stage and thereby reap more profits from their ideas, from 5 percent on up of royalties generated.
To put their products on shelves, Quirky.com partners with retail outlets such as Lowe’s, Target, Amazon and Home Depot, Lucas Phelps stated.
He said he and his wife are thrilled to be finalists in this competition on a national TV show broadcasting from New York, where they may be for two or three days. He didn’t sound quite so excited to be in the Big Apple itself, however, a place he has not visited before.
“I’m not too much of a big city person,” he said.