SANTA ROSA -- Snoopy's Home Ice arena seems an unlikely spot for a flash of innovation, but that's what happened when Ralph Haney, skating with his wife and daughter, idly turned on an LED penlight he had in his pocket.
[caption id="attachment_62940" align="alignleft" width="301"] A child lights up Snoopy's Home Ice arena in Santa Rosa with Glo-Blades.[/caption]
"Suddenly we were skating on wonderful blue light," he said. "It was mesmerizing. Then the rink manager called me over. I thought I was in trouble for using electronics on the ice, but he wanted to know how I was doing it."
Mr. Haney, an IT specialist for Duckhorn Vineyards in the Napa Valley, bought five more penlights and duct-taped them to his skates so that light reflected off the ice. The effect was dramatic.
"I knew I was onto something," he said.
And that was the beginning of Glo-Blades International (glo-blades.com). Incorporated in mid-2011, the company has patents pending in the U.S. and Canada, an advisory board listing former U.S. Olympic team skaters and an office at the Sonoma Mountain Business Cluster in Rohnert Park.
Mr. Haney's first prototype was held together with glue, but he soon found a local engineer who could fashion a better design to his specifications.
"I wanted to see multiple colors and fading via remote control," he said.
[caption id="attachment_62939" align="aligncenter" width="400"] click to watch a video demonstration of Glo-Blades[/caption]