When Rich Brancaccio was a school psychologist, he worked with children on the autism spectrum and with attention disorders.
But he saw nothing that helped them focus and concentrate on finishing their school work. So he developed a wearable product — like a wristwatch — that reminds students with challenges to pay attention in class and do their homework.
The device, called "Revibe Connect," vibrates when a student fidgets, prompting them to return to their tasks.
"It's to spark kids to think about what they're doing right now," Brancaccio said during an interview at The Launch Place on Tuesday morning.
The Launch Place, a nonprofit that helps fund startup businesses, announced that it has invested $250,000 in the product developed at Brancaccio's company, Revibe Technologies in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
The Launch Place has invested $4.3 million in 17 portfolio companies so far. It is funded with grants from the Danville Regional Foundation and helps companies get started or to expand by providing consulting services, office space, and investment.
"It's a great technology for children on the autism spectrum," Eva Doss, president and CEO at the Launch Place, said during an interview before the announcement. "The product is very much needed. There is a high demand. Eventually, it can also be used by adults."
In 2015, The Launch Place provided $40,000 for Revibe (then called FokusLabs) to help the company conduct research and develop the prototype for the product.
"We like to invest in companies that create a product that also has a social impact," Doss said.
Since then, the prototype has become a highly rated product and The Launch Place invested the additional $250,000. The original, the Revibe Classic, was an effective tool but it didn't do what the new product does, Brancaccio said.
The Revibe Connect watch learns its user's needs and adapts itself accordingly. It's also a resource for teachers, parents, clinicians and schools to track a student's progress, Brancaccio said.
Parents or teachers can enter the student's class schedule into the smart watch and it begins learning each class needs, he explained. It learns the child's pattern of behavior by class and time and it programs itself to meet each kid's needs to vibrate when it needs to the most.
"It's adjusting itself through a combination of sensors and feedback from the children," Brancaccio said.
In addition to the product's vibration reminders, the Revibe Connect includes a date and time display, step counting, splash-resistant hardware and an app that shows metrics of the wearer's daily activity.
There are students in all 50 states using Revibe and the company plans to reach out to the school system in Danville and remind officials about the product, Brancaccio said.
Each watch costs $119.95 and its target market is children ages 6 and older.
Brancaccio said he is in talks with a local company that Revibe hopes will provide packaging for its products. The deal would create 15 jobs over three years as a result of the packaging being moved here, he said.