Detroit’s Igniteless Courted by TV, Nears Finals in Walmart Contest

8/13/13Follow @XconomyDET

We published an article in July about Orlando Robinson, a Detroit entrepreneur who has used tragedies that have affected his family and community as the inspiration to create life-saving inventions.

Igniteless, Robinson’s latest invention, is a smoke alarm that can send a radio-transmitted signal to turn off an unattended stove if food starts burning before a fire breaks out. Robinson told us earlier this summer that his current focus is spreading the word about Igniteless and getting it in the hands of consumers.

Our article was shared widely on social media—so much so that it apparently found its way into Sir Ben Kingsley’s inbox. Kingsley, the Oscar-winning actor perhaps most famous for portraying Gandhi in the 1982 film of the same name, hosts a public television program called “Outlook” that covers “a diverse field of topics that are critical in our advancement towards the future.” The show seems especially fond of highlighting the human side of technological advancements.

Robinson says producers from “Outlook” recently contacted him about featuring the story of Igniteless—which his son asked him to invent after a neighborhood fire killed several children—in an upcoming segment. He’s also still a finalist to be on the next season of “Shark Tank,” though he’s been sworn to secrecy on the details.

Igniteless is also a finalist in Popular Science magazine’s #CrowdGrant Challenge. More than 300 reader ideas were submitted before being narrowed down to 24 finalists. Popular Science will feature the finalists in its magazine, and each finalist also has a RocketHub page to collect crowdfunding contributions. Robinson’s goal is to raise $50,000 by Aug. 30.

Finally, Igniteless is also a semi-finalist in an online contest being held by Walmart that asks people to vote for the products they most want to see on store shelves. Robinson’s Igniteless is one of 188 products in the running. You can vote once per day, and the process takes all of two seconds. (Click here to cast your vote for Igniteless; voting ends Sept. 2.)

If Igniteless racks up enough votes, it will be featured on Walmart.com to allow interested consumers to pre-order it. And if Igniteless generates enough interest on the website, Walmart will sign a purchase order to carry the product in its stores. About 10 products will ultimately be chosen from the 188 semi-finalists.

How does he like his chances? Robinson is nothing if not humble. “Being in Walmart would be unreal,” he says.

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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