04_Robert Jechart

President, RJE Technologies Inc.
Irvine - CA US

Saving Kids' Lives

A mother of three in Southern California was in her kitchen on January 8 when she heard the distinctive ring of SonarGuard. She ran outside to pull her 2-year-old son unharmed from the swimming pool. But every year, more than 250 children under the age of 5 aren't so lucky. Robert Jechart developed his sonar technology to help prevent those drownings. It's able to distinguish between a child and an inanimate object, which cuts down on false alarms.

From Robert's original entry:

Tell us what you do and the specific challenge you faced.

Perhaps it was in the genes of Robert Jechart (whose father invented the modern day atomic clock) or through his extensive background in product innovation which motivated Jechart to bridge the use of sonar technology for everyday civilian use to add a layer of security to swimming pool safety systems. For Jechart, founder and CEO of RJE International (a company that provides advanced sonar technology used for Navy search and rescue applications), he saw a way to offer a new safety system where in 70 years in pool building, no credible product offering 24/7 pool security monitoring product had been developed. Sparked by a conversation with a colleague, Jechart formed sister company RJE Technologies to develop sonar technology in a system called SonarGuard to offset the startling number of pool-related drownings that occur each year. The statistics are shocking: an estimated 350 children under the age of 5 die every year, 5,000 children under the age of 14 are hospitalized due to near-drownings each year. Jechart saw the need and the challenges of developing a device that could be integrated into existing and new pools, operate with safety devices such as pool covers and gates, and address the human error factor such as lack of response to other safety devices due to false alarms, or forgetting to reset a system.

What was your moment of truth?

SonarGuard's advanced technology was developed from RJE's vast experience with sonar navigation and search systems used by the U.S. Special Forces and for recovery of black boxes in aircraft. The defining moment of creativity: by applying underwater acoustics to swimming pool safety, the company's "intelligent" sonar pool safety system SonarGuard is the first and only water safety system integrated below the water's surface. When a child falls, slips or slides into the pool, the "sonar-net" is broken and immediately triggers a distinct sounding alarm that mimics a submarine's "ping" alerting those inside the house and outside. The technology uniquely identifies the body signature of a child falling into the pool vs. an inanimate object such as a ball to eliminate false alarms. SonarGuard is not affected by weather conditions such as wind and rain. The system overcame the challenges of adapting a military technology used for vast open ocean space to the confines and various configurations of a pool.

Through extensive R&D, SonarGuard took 5 years to develop, was tested over 7,000 times to create the only pool security system for new and existing swimming pools that works 24/7 in any pool size or shape. Microprocessor technology allows the system to reset automatically and operate 24/7, decreasing the human error element of depending on the home owner's memory to activate/reactivate the system. It is common fact that drowning prevention begins and ends withly pool security system for new and existing swimming pools. It works 24/7 in any pool size or shape, is invisible and fully automated.

From a regional launch, Southern California broadcast, print and media have tested the product and noted its important applications, creating greater public awareness and demand. The news of the product and its offerings made it across to the East coast and gained the attention of national outlets from CNN to CBS news, TechTV and even Howard Stern. Based on an outpour of customer support, and with already over 100 pool builders offering SonarGuard in California alone, eastward plans for expansion are underway for next year. Importantly, homeowner testimonies have affirmed the importance and the greater peace of mind SonarGuard affords. Full details on SonarGuard's operations can be viewed at www.sonarguard.com.

What's your parting tip?

Take a chance and try to make a difference. Have passion and believe in what you're doing - we have had so many people help us in our endeavor because they believe and know that our product will make a significant difference for many people, especially children. Form an advisory board and recruit leading people from the industry or with skills that can help you get there faster. First, you'll find out quickly whether your model holds water and secondly, they can make introductions for you, which are invaluable. Our advisory board has been crucial in getting us in front of the right people and also making much better decisions.

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