LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Nick O'Donnell, 22, of Lakewood Ranch has found a way to combine cutting edge technology with heart-felt human emotion.
It's called the Wavelet, a wearable bracelet in the shape of the soundwave of a message from a friend or loved one.
The messages -- and bracelets -- are as unique and personal as a set of fingerprints, O'Donnell said.
A smart phone, or computer can be used to replay the message, either from a chip in the Wavelet or by scanning
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a tag or typing in a number on a display card that is part of the package.
O'Donnell, a recent entrepreneurship graduate of Florida State University, began developing the Wavelet in 2013 while at FSU.
"As soon as you start taking classes, you're encouraged to find an idea and pursue it," O'Donnell said. "I spent 2 1/2 years finding a way to make that possible."
The message that he embedded in his first Wavelet, presented at an innovation challenge at FSU, was from John Lennon: "You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one."
Judges were so impressed that they awarded him an $8,000 grant, which he used to purchase a 3-D printer and other things needed to manufacture the Wavelet.
Back home now, O'Donnell has begun assembling a team, including Chris Betsch for mass-production sales, and Thomas Jackson, web maintenance. Critically, he has also begun raising funds through Kickstarter with a goal of $15,000.
Kickstarter will fund the project if at least $15,000 is pledged by Nov. 7.
"Kickstarter helps artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and other creators find the resources and support they need to make their ideas a reality. To date, tens of thousands of creative projects -- big and small -- have come to life with the support of the Kickstarter community," according to the Kickstarter web site.
While at Lakewood Ranch High School, O'Donnell dreamed of a career in film making. He enrolled at FSU with the idea of majoring in film, but early on decided to get into the entrepreneurship program instead and never looked back.
Each step in developing a practical consumer product has come with challenges.
"All throughout you get these rushes of hope and excitement," O'Donnell said of Wavelet's evolution.
His teachers at Lakewood Ranch High School are not surprised at O'Donnell's promise.
"He is quite a Tony Stark in his own right," TV production instructor Brian Steadman says of the Ironman character played by Robert Downey Jr.
"He was always at the forefront, and is quite the tinkerer, quite the inventor. He has one of those great minds you come across occasionally. He is quite brilliant," Steadman said.
Roxanne Caravan, who was O'Donnell's teacher in the Lakewood Ranch Theater Department, remembers him as an intuitive and creative student who was focused on a film career.
"He is an awesome kid, determined, and real creative," Caravan said. "Now he has the technology to take his ideas and concepts and apply them."
Ron Frazier, entrepreneur-in-residence mentor at FSU, recalls meeting with O'Donnell monthly to advise him on his project.
"He is extremely bright and creative," Frazier said. "He comes prepared, and I would think, 'wow, he is really on the top of his game.' It's a really cool idea, especially for Valentine's Day. I am excited for him."
For now, O'Donnell is hand-making rubber Wavelets, carrying a cost of about $24 each. He plans to move on to metal Wavelets that will cost about $60. And eventually, we would like to get back to his first love: film.
Those who know O'Donnell say he is one to watch.
"I think eventually he will do something spectacular in the film business," Frazier said.
For more information about Wavelets, visit https://www.waveletproducts.com/about-us/.
For more information about Kickstarter, visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/716123751/wavelet.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter@jajones1.