Post-It Note inventor helps Duluth entrepreneur bring new idea to lifeAt GeaCom’s recent gala event in Duluth celebrating its groundbreaking medical device, Arthur Fry didn’t stand out among the firm’s prestigious team of advisers.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
At GeaCom’s recent gala event in Duluth celebrating its groundbreaking medical device, Arthur Fry didn’t stand out among the firm’s prestigious team of advisers.
Some appeared readily before TV cameras, slickly offering comments and perspective.
But the unassuming Fry, a 78-year-old inventor, seemed comfortable out of the limelight.
“He’s a phenomenal human being,” said Mat Johnson, Duluth-based GeaCom’s founder and CEO. “He’s been a spark for innovation. He loves the result of innovation so much that he’s made it his life’s mission. And that’s really cool.”
Fry, who grew up in Duluth, spent his career working for 3M in the Twin Cities in new product development. Although he had a hand in many new products, the chemical engineer that rose to the rank of corporate scientist is best known for creating Post-it Notes in the 1970s.
Fry got involved with GeaCom after he met Johnson at a meeting of Grass Roots Innovation Team, or GRIT, which Fry helped establish. Fry was impressed by GeaCom’s Phrazer, the device Johnson invented.
“He sees our product as revolutionary,” Johnson said.
Besides changing the quality of health care around the world, Fry says the other possible uses of Phrazer as it evolves in the years ahead are staggering.
“They’re providing the tool that can educate and translate,” Fry said. “It can do all sorts of things. The number of applications will be like a viral infection to something really big.”
The handheld wireless device identifies a patient’s language. Through an interactive screen, health-care professionals who don’t speak the language can communicate with the patient to get an accurate diagnosis. Phrazer, which also records vital signs, is headed for production by year’s end.
Fry’s role in the process has been valuable, Johnson says.
With Fry’s experience in product creation and development, Johnson has learned more about pitfalls along the way, associated legal issues, how to make the product strong and user-friendly and how to study and test the market, Johnson said.
“We’re implementing some of those ideas right now,” Johnson said. “He’s helping us guide our path to market.”
Fry also has had a calming effect.
“When you’re trying to come out with a device that’s so different, you get a lot of pressure, a lot of stress,” Johnson said. “He has the ability to show you the bigger picture. He brings a sense of calm to the process. I can’t overstate how important that is.”