PITTSBURG — A short, older woman working at the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Pittsburg created the spark that could help millions of people.
She was just being motherly.
While Jamee Miller attended Pittsburg schools, her mom, Vickie Kelly, would read her textbooks as she followed along. Jamee Miller said she always struggled with reading.
“I worked my butt off and got C’s,” she said.
Now, Jamee Miller and her husband, Payden, have invented a pen that will help students with dyslexia, a learning disability that is estimated to affect 5 to 10 percent of people.
While taking Prof. Wally Meyer’s entrepreneurial class at the University of Kansas, Jamee and Payden were tasked with a project to create a business.
Under the advisement of their professor, the Millers scrapped Payden’s idea of artificial photosynthesis and pursued Kelly’s idea of Read ‘n Style pen, a pen-shaped device that reads textbooks to help dyslexic students.
“I really believe it can help a lot of people,” Jamee Miller said.
Jamee said she had just failed all her online classes the semester before and was being tested for dyslexia when she came up with the invention. Eventually, the tests confirmed Jamee is dyslexic.
The Millers are working with crowdfunding company Indiegogo to raise enough money for production. There will be a crowdfunding launch party Oct. 1 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Jo’s Gyros.
The plan, they said, is to take pre orders and donations to raise enough money to cover the rest of development and production with a launch date of Jan. 1, 2017.
If all goes well, the Millers plan to bring the production portion “home” to Pittsburg, but continue ties with their connections to professors and the University of Kansas in Kansas City. The couple have won grant money for the invention and were given office space at the university for their business.
The device will be able to connect to a bluetooth earbud and read in real time. The Millers also plan to make the pen have different voices for reading.
The couple currently has a provisional patent on the device and are working with Control Vision Corporation in Pittsburg to put the final touches on the device.
“It’s huge,” Payden said. “It’s going to help a lot of people.”
More information can be found on the Hidden Abilities website, hiddenabilities.org. The Millers decided on Hidden Abilities as a business name because they plan to make other educational devices in the future. Additional updates can be found on Hidden Abilities Facebook page.
— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.