A FATHER and son from Old Basing are launching a campaign to fund a potentially lifesaving gadget.
Dr Graham Cox and his father Ron have developed a device that helps prevent back pain whilst travelling in a vehicle and which ensures people wear their seatbelt correctly.
Graham, who has a PhD in physiology, believes the device, called SHOFT, could save the NHS millions of pounds because it keeps drivers and passengers seated in the most comfortable position in their vehicle.
The pair set up a company called TUTCH Designs to produce SHOFT after spending years designing the small, palm-sized invention that is manufactured in Manchester.
Now they are launching a crowdfunding campaign as a way of raising finance by asking people to give a small amount of money in return for a business incentive or reward for the donation.
Graham and Ron are hoping to raise around £20,000 through the UK’s largest crowdfunding network Crowdfunder.
Every donor will receive a SHOFT as a reward for their backing as well as a free e-book written by Graham called My Car Is Killing Me. In addition a portion of each donation made via Crowdfunder will go towards supporting the UK charity Back Care and the children’s cancer charity William’s Fund.
Retired Ron, who had a successful career in business and manufacturing research, is excited about the project.
He said: “With crowdfunding we hope to have a first run of producing about 20,000 units.”
Confident that the product will sell he explained: “Our first commercial run of 1,000 SHOFTs were sold out in a week so we need to move to a higher production facility to meet the demand.”
Graham added: “Explaining our product and the benefits to a wide population will hopefully motivate people to pledge small donations to help fund us.”
The product is also part of a car safety mission for Graham.
“Most people don’t sit with their seat belts on properly,” he said.
“They sit in a position that compromises safety and comfort as they tend to slouch, putting a strain on their tendons and muscles that leads to back ache.”
He points out that the lap belt should always go across the pelvis.
“There should be no slack in the belt at any time, whereas if the belt goes across your tummy, this can lead to bruising, internal bleeding and could even result in death in the event of an accident,” said |Graham.
He anticipates that the SHOFT could eventually become a standard product in cars just like airbags are today.
And those who regularly take long distance journeys are set to benefit the most from SHOFT, especially taxi and lorry drivers.
When asked about the product’s name, Graham revealed that it was the legendary Scottish born actor, Sean Connery, who inspired them.
He said: “We wanted a name that we could make into a brand and whilst we were joking around impersonating people Dad did a Sean Connery and said ‘soft’, which came out as ‘shoft’.
“We thought it sounded good and was unusual enough.”