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Columbia Startup Introduces Smart-Phone Enabled Winter Gloves

Blue Infusion Technologies has introduced its first product this month — a glove outfitted with Bluetooth technology that lets  the wearer operate a smart phone while keeping his hands warm. The Columbia startup is selling its BEARTek Gloves online before placing them in retail stores by fall/winter of 2013.

Blue Infusion Technologies' second product, a motorsports glove with Bluetooth technology, is being launched at the same time, also online first and later in retail stores.

“This is the first time the products are available for purchase,” says CEO Willie Blount, who founded the company two years ago. Blount is referring to the launches on Kickstarter.com, a competitive process that required sending a proposal, product descriptions and video demonstrating that it has a viable product.
 
BEARTek Gloves are priced at $150/pair and is outfitted with Bluetooth technology. A Bluetooth module contains a battery and custom hardware that enable a connection to a smart phone. Touching the thumb activates touchpoints on the fingertips, says Blount.
 
“You touch the thumb to a designated fingertip to make calls,” says Blount. “Skiers can call for emergency help if they aren’t carrying a phone or without reaching for a phone inside a jacket.” The motorsports glove is in the same price range and uses the same technology.
 
Blue Infusion Technologies is a virtual company that collaborates with the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, part of the Howard County Economic Development Authority. It is a Maryland-certified minority-owned business.
 
Last spring, the company received help on glove technology and product development from the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program, which is funded by the National Aeronautical and Space Administration. In August, it received a $148,500 award from the Maryland Industrial Partnership to collaborate with Dr. Marc Cohen, a research scientist at the University of Maryland College Park, on the technology.
 
Blount says the idea for BEARTek and motorsports gloves came from his experiences and those of his business partner and COO Tarik Rodgers’ experiences. Blount is a former US Marine who has also worked for the US government as a specialist in electronics and aviation. Rodges, an engineer, is an experienced skier.
 
The company has arranged manufacturing of the gloves in a US factory, says Blount, who, with Rodgers, are the company’s two employees.  The company is a state-certified minority-owned business.
 
Source: Willie Blount, Blue Infusion Technologies
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
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