On a winter’s night in 1933, Percy Shaw was driving his car down a remote country road in England. The night was moonless; the fog was thick and a steady mix of rain and snow lashed his windshield. The road was little more than an alley, with no signage, no shoulder, winding and winding. Any error in assessment would indeed be very costly.
As Mr. Shaw trotted along, he suddenly came upon a rise in the road, and was startled when a small Morriss Minor automobile appeared just at the crest of the rise. The approaching car drove straight towards his vehicle. He was on a slight curve, it was pitch black, the road was slippery and unmarked. He had to make a decision in a split second when a small house cat scampered across the street. The headlights of Mr. Shaw’s car illuminated the cat’s eyes, and the reflection of those iridescent eyes gave Percy Shaw just enough perspective to gauge his distance and drive safely around the Morris Minor.
As Percy Shaw collected himself from his terse call, he began to think about what had happened. Why were the roads of that time so dangerous? What had just happened that he could use to help all motorists? He was motivated to improve road safety for every driver everywhere. But how?
The reflection in the cat’s eyes was the key to the solution Mr. Shaw was looking for. He started tinkering in his garage workshop. After several attempts, he perfected the first “cat’s eye road reflectors”. Today, the ubiquitous illuminated reflectors, implanted in road beds and strategically placed along right-of-way routes, are part of the driving experience we take for granted. At night and in bad weather, they offer safety and orientation. In the 1930s, they were considered an amazing advance in security.
The British Government immediately approved and implemented the installation of the reflectors on roads across the British Isles and then across the Empire. Millions of Percy Shaw’s “Cat’s Eye Road Reflectors” continue to improve driving safety around the world to this day. Knighted by Queen Elizabeth, Mr. Shaw benefited greatly from his invention. He was always very proud of the security benefits that his simple invention had brought to mankind.
Modern entrepreneurs and inventors can learn a simple lesson from this seemingly elementary invention. On that stormy night in 1933, Percy Shaw had no intention of inventing the “cat’s eye road reflector”. An event happened that got him thinking about possibilities. He felt a need. He addressed that need. He benefited from responding to the needs he identified, and all motorists saw the benefits of his inventiveness.
Creative entrepreneurs are always striving to offer products and services that offer enhanced features and performance benefits unavailable in current items. The simplest ideas and concepts are often the most commercial. The example of Percy Shaw’s invention of the “Cat’s Eye Road Reflector” is a wonderful template for aspiring inventors.
Opportunities can appear at the most unexpected moments. Be aware, flexible, and opportunistic if you want to reap the rewards of successful innovators. The market is always open to new, innovative products.
Thanks to Geoff Ficke | #Simple #Road #Reflector #Saves #Lives #Great #Teaching #Template