“You can have a really good idea, but it’s that next step to the market and to the user that’s the hard bit,” explained Associate Professor Sandy Walker, product and industrial designer who worked with David on the project.
To patent an idea costs about $30,000. That price increases as you extend a patent over several countries. Then comes the process of commercialisation. The problem is: as soon as you put a ‘disability label’ on a product, you might as well give up on affordability. One of David’s supervisors, neuroscientist and rehabilitation clinician Professor Susan Hillier, says, “You don’t make money out of rehab devices. If you think you’re going to make money from it, you’re a banana. Therefore, you can assume none of us are doing it for money because we’re not bananas.”
David won’t be buying that beachfront house in Waikiki any time soon. The disability market is typically small, specialised and customised. You can’t apply mass manufacturing and the commodities of scale in the same way. However, David is determined to make his creation affordable for parents.