the Minds at LoPresti.
Way back in the last century, an engineer named RJ Siegel was living in the Silicon Valley of California, working hard for an upstart computer company named after a fruit. Computer lore tells us it was this team of highly motivated Macintosh developers which began the company's long-standing and highly profitable mantra to “think differently” and today, it is rare to see a twentysomething without an iPod attached to their body, and many of them – at least the creative ones – will be carrying Macbooks.
So what happens when you move the clock forward a couple of decades, and those same Mac engineers try to retire. If you think this bunch can just turn off the entrepreneurial spirit that thought up products like the iMac, you'd be mistaken.
We now join Siegel's new "retired" life, already in progress, and [this is a warning] you better fasten your seat belt, because this is going to be a WILD ride.
"I Hate Wires!" says Siegel, a pilot who is also VP of Operations for LoPresti, makers of the white-hot Fury. That seemingly mundane statement dissing cockpit wiring was the impetus for him to develop a new bluetooth-based wireless headset called ClearBlue, which LoPresti introduced recently. What was originally a component of a very high-tech avionics suite for the Fury has now taken on a life of it's own, and may well prove to be one of the most brilliant inventions in avionics since the GPS.
Aero News Network ran a very solid story here on what ClearBlue is, and how the system works. Maybe it is the simplicity of the headsets, or the innovation behind them, or maybe it's because deep down inside, we all really REALLY hate our wired headsets, but it seems the aviation community is just going freakin' nuts over ClearBlue:
From RJ Siegel: "I'm buried. I need two heads and six more arms. We tried to quietly test market the ClearBlue headset at Sun 'n Fun...that didn't exactly work. I got 1,136 emails! Every headset manufacturer you can name has called to see if they can work with us. The headset will be on display at Oshkosh, and we are going into production with Xmas as a delivery goal."While never having met Siegel, or toured the LoPresti factory, my respect for the products they design and build grows daily. Take the Fury for instance...they have been smart in turning Siegel and his design team loose on the avionics of this personal fighter/flying sports car, and some of what they have thought up just blows my mind:
The ClearBlue™ headsets are part of (but not exclusive to) an avionics package designed for the Fury. The package is called "Intuition" and introduces some amazing technology to the GA cockpit, including a wing-mounted camera with a 5" cockpit display that provides forward visibilty, in climb and taxi. (ClearView™). There is also an iPod interface that not only provides entertainment, but also becomes a data recorder which can include the video stream from the wing camera. The entire flight (audio, navigation, engine instruments and video) can be recorded at 512 x 384 resolution and later replayed on your computer. With the ability to record over 500 hours of flight time, the iPod becomes the first truly portable, personal flight recorder with a huge recording capacity. The entire system completely replaces a manual pilots log.Wow, that's some different thinking, my friends.
I think it's great when any aviation company's phone is ringing off the hook, or when their inbox is stuffed with people begging for their products. I hope Siegel and LoPresti sell truckloads of ClearBlue headsets, and quite a few Furys as well. I promise you a set of 'Blues is in my future, and if my "ship that is coming in" is carrying gold dubloons, maybe even a shiny new Fury will be based out at EUG someday.