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'Stealth' Car Gizmo Cuts Two Ways

February 18, 1990|STEVE HOLZER | ASSOCIATED PRESS

DENVER — Police might like Kip Fuller for keeping drunks off the road, but they're not too happy that he helps speeders outwit radar traps by turning cars into ground versions of a stealth bomber.

Fuller invented the Guardian Interlock, used by law enforcers in at least 18 states, which deactivates a car's ignition system if the driver can't pass an alcohol breathalyzer test.

The inventor's latest innovation is known as a stealth car bra, so named because it resembles a brassiere strapped to the front of a vehicle.

Made of radar-absorbing carbon fibers, the bra enables a car to fool police radar until it reaches close range, permitting drivers to spot the trap and slow down before their speed is clocked.

"I'm not anti-government," Fuller said. "I try to develop products that assist the government in doing its job."

But how does a stealth car bra help the government?

Fuller smiled. "It keeps them on their toes."

His idea for the Guardian Interlock stems from his conviction for driving under the influence at age 19. Afterward, Fuller recalled in an interview, he asked himself why someone hadn't thought of a product that would help prevent drunk driving.

"The 'why' part of that question got me thinking about a method of prevention. It sure would have helped me back then," he said.

To start a car equipped with the Guardian Interlock, a driver must breathe into a mouthpiece attached to an alcohol sensor for four seconds. If the driver's alcohol level is above the level deemed safe, the ignition remains locked.

Judges around the country are ordering convicted drunk drivers to buy and install the $300 system in their vehicles as an alternative to paying fines or serving jail time, Fuller said.

Fuller's stealth car bra also resulted from experience.

"Honestly, I was a little tired of getting speeding tickets. But more than that, I believe the government uses radar technology to generate revenue. The public has a right to defend itself if the government uses clandestine methods," he said.

Radar, he said, often gives inaccurate readings because the beam from a radar gun spreads like the light from a flashlight. Stealth technology forces a police officer to wait until the vehicle is closer to get a speed reading, improving a driver's chances of spotting the officer and slowing down first.

"The bra protects drivers from unfair readings that result in unjustified speeding tickets," he said.

The bra, which starts at $299 depending on the auto make and model, is custom-made to fit most domestic and foreign cars.

The 33-year-old's creations have gained him national and international recognition. As president and founder of Innovisions Research Co., he has combined inventiveness and marketing savvy to create a growing business.

Innovisions, in operation just over a year, employs seven people full time and makes use of about 20 subcontractors. Revenue for 1990 is projected at about $2 million, Fuller said.

The inventor's first financial success was the Servitron Robot, a vinyl, 4-foot-tall, remote-control toy that serves drinks at parties. It racked up nearly $3 million in sales its first year.

The influx of cash made it possible for Fuller to develop and market other creations: orthopedically designed pants for skiers with bad knees, a condo for cats, handles for skis and mitts for ice-scrapers.

"I just look at different areas objectively," he said. "Sometimes people in a specific industry are so close to the subject that they can't see the areas where improvements or additions are necessary. I try to remain the observer so I don't get too wrapped up in a product."

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