Using a Kooty Key every day keeps the doctor away

Ken Kolb’s “aha moment” came in a McDonald’s restroom. Frequently on the road for his job, the lifelong Macomb County resident often made pit-stops at the fast-food joint. On one occasion, while washing his hands, he noticed that there were only hand dryers in the restroom – no paper towels. Transitioning to this more environmental hand drying method is a fairly common trend for businesses, but for individuals like Ken, who like opening restroom doors with paper towel to protect freshly-washed hands, this causes a bit of an issue. That’s when he got his flash of inspiration. What if there was a tool that would allow you to open doors without touching them? In that moment, the Kooty Key was born.

packageThe Kooty Key is a hook-like product made from reinforced, antimicrobial plastic. It easily attaches to keys or a purse so the user can grab it, take hold of a handle and open a door – all without actually touching the surface and coming in contact with germs. This was the goal Ken set out to achieve after his aha moment. As an Ultimate Fitness Event professional who previously won Mr. Natural Michigan, Ken is a health enthusiast. He understands how healthy living and exercise can have a positive impact on a person. But even with this commitment to well-being, Ken still managed to contract viral meningitis. In 2005, he spent a week in the hospital after being diagnosed with the infection. He’s not sure how he came into contact with the meningitis bacteria, but he knows it can be deadly and he has tried to reduce his risk for future illness by frequently washing his hands and opening public doors and handles with paper towel – what he had intended to do in that restaurant restroom. However, more and more businesses are switching their restroom facilities from paper towels to hand dryers to save costs and reduce their impact on the environment. While this is ultimately a positive move, it puts individuals like Ken in a bit of a pickle. So he developed the Kooty Key as an alternative for himself and others.

Creating the product took time. Ken first sketched out his vision for the tool, handing it off to an engineer friend who created the initial version out of steel. Ken took that to ADAPT Technologies in Rochester so they could help him flesh out the idea and make it slotssomething that could be produced on a mass scale. After applying some physics and printing several 3D models, Ken and the ADAPT team landed on an antimicrobial plastic version that would be able to open a 35 pound door while still being small enough to fit in your pocket. They also added a touch tool that would give users the ability to push keypads and buttons. Ken then took the product to Las Vegas, testing its durability by opening heavy casino doors and pulling slot machine handles. The tool worked exactly as planned so Ken put it into production and began selling it as the Kooty Key.

Initially, Ken sourced his manufacturing in China. But after a round of disappointing product arrived at his door, he made the choice to move everything to Michigan. Now made through Molding Experts in Chesterfield, Ken can say his product is entirely “made in Michigan.” He’s proud of that, but it also makes fiscal sense for him. Sourcing locally means that Ken can meet his product managers in person; they’re in the same time zone. He can also see his product on the line, which gives him the ability to personally ensure its quality. This results in five-star reviews from Kooty Key customers. According to one individual: “This is an awesome product! I feel much more confident when I go to public places now. With the flu out of control, I use my Kooty Key everywhere.” And another: “This was a great gift for my grandmother who was always wrapping her hands with her shirt or coat to open doors.”

As that customer stated, the Kooty Key is the perfect tool for individuals concerned with their health or who have suppressed immune systems. It is also suitable for individuals who work in environments where germs are prevalent, like teachers or nurses. It could even be a great gift for young people going away to college.

While there are a variety of individuals who might find this product helpful, the end result is always the same – peace of mind. Customers who use Kooty Key always say that they feel better about being out in public because the tool offers them some protection from the germs and bacteria that contaminate everyday surfaces. Ken agrees. Since he created the product and started using it, he says he’s never been sick. His family feels the health benefits too, which is certainly positive as they help run the business and have never needed to call in sick.

Knowing this, I’m personally giving the Kooty Key a try. In my opinion, there’s nothing worse than coming down with a cold or the flu, calling off and then falling behind at work. So if there’s something simple I can do to reduce my risk of becoming sick, I’m going to test it out. Who knows what the result will be, but I’ve got my fingers crossed for an illness-free year!

For more information on Kooty Key and to purchase the product, visit http://kootykey.com/.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Advertisements

Macomb County: Equipped and ready for next generation mobility

Macomb County is made up of 27 cities, townships and villages. Connecting those communities are 1,700 miles of road and 740 traffic signals. The county’s residents, more than 864,000 individuals, rely on this transportation network to get to work, school, stores and ultimately, to their homes. That’s a lot of usage, and it often results in back-ups, accidents and fatalities. How do you solve these issues? Our county might have the answer.

Smart and connected roads
We have smart phones, smart homes and smart cars – why not smart roads? Here in Macomb County, that’s no longer a question; it’s a reality. The Macomb County Department of Roads is leading the country in creating a smart infrastructure network that can communicate with vehicles, bikes, buses and pedestrians; improving the overall mobility experience. The county was recently able to showcase this technology at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA) annual meeting hosted in Detroit. Along with our partners at MDOT and SMART, county leaders demonstrated how transit signal priority that uses dedicated short range communication can expedite a bus route by extending green lights. This is one of the many pilot programs being explored in Macomb County, and while it sounds simple, it has taken years of planning and development to get to this stage.

vicky
Vicky Rad tests real time collision prevention systems in Macomb County with DERQ, a Dubai-based company with a mission to eliminate road accidents and save lives by using AI and technology

How did we get here?
It all started with COMTEC, the Macomb County Communications and Technology Center. Completed in 2013, this 25,000-square-foot facility houses traffic communications, 911 emergency dispatch and information technology services for the entire county. Through a system of 230 cameras, the center provides 24/7 situational awareness to residents, businesses and first responders. In addition to providing this essential service, the network also allows the county to build a Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communication system. And with car connectivity on the rise (by 2020, more than 75 percent of vehicles shipped will be connected), this system is increasingly relevant.

In a recent interview, John Abraham, director of traffic and operations at the Macomb County Department of Roads, described why this is important:

“In one scenario, if a connected car gets into a crash, an alert comes to the center immediately and sends information that the airbag was deployed, and the extent of the damage. The emergency dispatch center gets the information also, and we can deploy the right resources to the crash using the GPS location of the accident,” he said.

Ultimately, Macomb County would like to increase safety on area roads and decrease the number of car accidents. With the V2I system and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications now available through some auto manufacturers, this goal is within reach.

How it works
driving
An integral part of this connectivity and vehicle communications are roadside units (RSU), boxes that gather and broadcast information at an intersection. In addition to signaling back to COMTEC so traffic signals can be prioritized for emergency vehicles or during periods of heavy road usage, the RSU can link with connected vehicles and alert them to changing lights or other hazards.  Eventually, RSUs will be able to give speed guidance or alert a driver that a lane is closing due to construction. And in the future, RSUs and connected vehicles could provide COMTEC with information about vacant parking spots and even communicate with other modes of transportation, like buses, pedestrians and bicycles, all using the same technology.

Macomb County currently has five RSUs completely operational, and will install 20 to 25 additional units this summer. Federal grants will provide the funding to have 301 RSUs installed by early 2019, and the goal is to have all 740 traffic signals in the county connected within three years. This makes Macomb a leader in smart and connected roadways. Only a few dozen locations across the U.S. have installed connected technology and Macomb is among the handful that also have an operational RSU. That’s certainly impressive; but of course it makes sense that the Motor City region would be a trailblazer in this effort. We make the cars, therefore we lead the way in next generation mobility.

 

Vicky Rad is the deputy director of the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.