Posted: July 01, 2012

Colorado cool stuff: Air Pear, Geopalz, Steelie

Eric Peterson

AIR PEAR THERMAL EQUALIZER

A spinoff of longstanding contract manufacturer Avedon Engineering, the Air Pear is a destratification fan system that helps push hot air down from the ceiling for more efficient heating and cooling. Avedon Engineering first used it at its own facilities in Longmont.

"One day Xcel called us and asked if we were still in business," says Christian Avedon, sales engineer. "To our surprise, we were saving 38 percent on our energy bill." So Avedon and his father, Ray, decided to start selling the Air Pear. Now there are more than 30,000 units installed in facilities all over the country. About $450 to $3,500 or more for a system.

Made by Airius LLC, Longmont, (303) 772-2633, www.theairpear.com.

GEOPALZ FAMILY ACTIVITY TRACKERS

The people behind Jibbitz, the colorful buttons kids wear in the holes in their Crocs, Rich and Sheri Schmelzer and Alexandra O’Leary left Crocs in 2009 to start another company. "We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you could stick an accelerometer in a Jibbitz and turn exercise into a game?’" Rich Schmelzer says.

Launched in 2012, the quarter-sized GeoPalz come in all sorts of shapes – from footballs to peace signs – with an LCD readout that lets kids know how many steps they have taken. Next they enter it on a website to earn points in pursuit of rewards provided by parents or donated by local stores.

"Kid’s don’t see it as a health product and we don’t promote it as one – we promote it as a game," Rich Schmelzer says. "Some kids wear it proudly and say, ‘I’m getting Xbox credits with it.’" $25 retail.

Made by GeoPalz Inc., Boulder, www.geopalz.com. Also available at Whole Foods, REI and the Boulder Running Co.

OFFERO VESSELS

Art consultant-turned-fishing guide Mitch Bangert was at a coffee shop tasting gourmet coffee in February 2010 when his host gave him a Dixie Cup and said, "Mitch, cup your hand over the back of this as you drink. I really want you to get the nose." A light bulb went off, and Bangert came up with the Offero, a cup designed to accommodate the quaffer’s nose and mouth, crowned with an angular slant rather than a flat top.

"They say 80 percent of taste is smell," Bangert says. "Remember the last time you had a cold? You couldn’t taste anything." After this season, he’s closing up his guide service in Saratoga, Wyo., to focus on Offero full time. "It’s a real deal," he says. In 2011, sales were $17,000. This year, he thinks he may crack $300,000, after winning "Best New Product" at the Specialty Coffee Association of America Exposition in Portland, Ore., in April. $10 to $18 retail. Available in ceramic for coffee and tea, and glass for beer, wine and spirits.

Made by Offero LLC, Golden, (303) 298-0848, www.theoffero.com.

STEELIE

Frank Vogel quickly saw that iPads and other tablets were not ergonomic in the least. "It’s not easy to show off," says Vogel, who cut his teeth in the outdoor industry. He combined a magnet and a steel ball in a prototype handle, dubbed the Steelie. Now patented, the Steelie comes in three versions: handheld, tabletop and a car-centric phone iteration.

The product is the first from Black Glass Design Studio, which Vogel describes as "four guys in four walls" using Kickstarter to fund ideas, keeping as much as possible in-house, and selling the resulting products directly. The Steelie’s magnet doesn’t affect the devices, he adds. "We’ve sold a few thousand now and we haven’t had a complaint." $35 to $65 retail.

Made by Black Glass LLC, Boulder, www.steelie.com.

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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