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Success of Boogie Board boosts jobs at Kent Displays

When Kent Displays launched Improv Electronics as a new business unit Jan. 21, the company expected its first direct-to-consumer product to be popular. What it didn't expect was that, in a matter of days, its U.S. distributor -- Amazon.com -- would be sold out.

Buyers are boogieing toward what, at first glance, is a big step up from the Magna Doodle and giant leap from the Magic Slate -- that plastic-over-wax tablet that kids once used to sketch animals and nasty notes to siblings.

It's the Boogie Board, and unlike lower-tech, paperless writing tablets, it capitalizes on Kent Displays' "ReflexTM, no power LCD technology."

"The image is completely produced by the ambient light reflecting off of the display," explains Kevin Oswald, Kent Displays' communications director. "And because it reflects off of the display, there's no power required. When you write on it, that writing will stay on there indefinitely until I push the erase button."

The company sees the Boogie Board as an alternative to sticky notes, memo pads, and other paper-intensive writing tools. At half the size of a steno pad, it can fit into a purse, briefcase, or backpack.

People with physical disabilities might also find the Boogie Board useful, Oswald says. "If you've got a speech problem due to an injury or a birth defect, this is a board you can write on."

Oswald declined to say how many of the units have been sold, but said the company is working to keep supplies ahead of demand. In the meantime, the new product has contributed to a boost in employment from 60 last fall to more than 75 now.

Source: Kevin Oswald, Kent Displays
Writer: Gene Monteith

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