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Innovative Devices

Anglin Zachary Anglin is a budding Hamilton, Texas inventor who has created a variety of innovative devices such as the Pager Pillow, the FlipperLight, and the Anglin Magnet Detector—all before entering middle school.

Encouraged by his mother, Robin, and entrepreneurial father, Larry, who owns a computer company in central Texas, young Anglin says he has always been interested in inventing. He loves to come up with solutions to problems that people are having around him, and clearly he has a knack for thinking creatively.

His first invention was the E-Z bottle, a disposable baby bottle liner with a pre-measured amount of formula already inside. According to Anglin, when his cousin Emily was an infant, he watched his aunt Carol scooping and measuring the baby formula each time she made a bottle. "I thought to myself that if there could be a better way to do this, it would be much easier on Aunt Carol," he said. "Thus, I came up with disposable packets of formula already inside the liner."

For the Pager Pillow, Anglin took a similar problem-solving approach. "My mom often was woken up in the middle of the night by my dad's pager," he said. "One day she said that she just couldn't stand it. This gave me a great idea." He came up with an initial concept in his head, for a pillow that had a place inside where a person's pager could fit and function while its owner was sleeping on it. That way, when it went off, the person lying on the pillow would hear it, but others in the household would not.

First, Anglin bought a comfortable foam pillow. Next, he got his mother to cut a deep crevice in the side of the pillow. Then, Anglin bought satin fabric and sewed it into a pillow case with the help of his grandmother. A friend of his mother's embroidered the pillow, and the prototype was complete.

Anglin took his invention a giant step further, however. He wanted people to know about his product, so he began his own marketing campaign. :"I built a Web page with the help of my dad," said Anglin. "I made two [product] surveys, one for the Internet and one to ask people personally. Finally, I went to the [local] Invention Convention and made my presentation."

Anglin, who has participated in both local Invention Convention events as well as Invent America, continues to seek improvements to his pager pillow design while he comes up with solutions to other problems. Meanwhile he's also working on a number of other activities, including tae kwon do, rocket-building, chess and computer games, and school, of course. "My favorite school subjects are math and reading, because I enjoy them and I am good at them," he said. His advice to others? "Work hard, document everything, and NEVER give up," he said.

While Anglin still has a few years to go before he's through with school and college, he's already got some ideas about what he'd like to do in terms of his career. "I'd like to be a marine biologist," he said. "The ocean has always fascinated me, and I could invent some wonderful underwater cameras and speakers."

[August 2001]

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