Inventor wants to clean up kids
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Tired of telling his two children to go back and wash their hands again, Mike Reiter was inspired to invent the Bub’BLOOP!
For the past two years, the Bernardo Point resident has worked on the hand-washing toy that some perceive as an alien on a flying saucer. Others see a porcupine or sea creature, Reiter said.
Regardless of what it is seen as, the toy sold only on the Internet — for now — is supposed to make children ages 3 to 8 spend more time washing their hands. The trick: getting them to repeatedly squeeze and squish the rubber toy in their attempts to blow a big soap bubble.
Reiter, who has spent the last two decades inventing a variety of devices for cell phones, credit card machines, and medical and dental offices, said he decided to make his first toy for Soapy Solutions LLC, a company he has founded for the endeavor, rather than for someone else’s company.
“This was way more fun,” Reiter said about the inventive process for the toy compared to his other inventions. “It’s so much more gratifying (when children) pick up your product and are smiling and laughing. It’s just amazing.”
Inspired by a musical toothbrush, he started the process of making hand-washing fun two years ago. His children, now ages 8 and 10, were his “guinea pigs,” he said. Later, friends’ children were asked to try the toy, which has undergone many revisions from that first prototype.
He also made changes based on adults’ reactions. For example, Reiter said the early version left a puddle of liquid soap in the toy’s dish, that sometimes splashed out. The current version suctions the soap back up.
While any liquid soap can be used in the toy — sold for $9.95 plus shipping and handling — Reiter said his soap mixture works the best. Refills are $1.95 each.
“Our soap works the best because (others) do not make as good of a bubble,” he said.
Though Reiter said he is very familiar with “the front end” of the inventive process, which includes product development and getting the item into manufacturing, building a distribution channel was unfamiliar territory for him.
For this, he is being mentored by Mark Rappaport, owner of Marky Sparky Toys in Escondido, who also gave advice on the toy’s style and details.
Reiter said they are trying to get the Bub’BLOOP! sold in speciality toy stores. Sales have just started to pick up on his website, www.bubbloop.com. The largest order to date, for 200 units plus 200 soap refills, has come from an Indiana health department that hopes to improve the health of low-income children by getting them to wash their hands properly, Reiter said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, proper hand-washing is the best way to prevent illness and infection. CDC recommends using warm water and rubbing hands together for 15-20 seconds — about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
Reiter, 40, said his first invention was at age 14, when he looked for an easy way to remove a swimming pool cover. His idea was for an inflatable cover, which “didn’t get very far from the mock up,” he said.
As for future inventions, “a few other bubble toys are in the works,” Reiter said. “I’m hoping this is my first toy in a long line of toys.”
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