After spending several hours in the ocean on a bright sunny day, Lee Batey felt his eyes itching. It was only when he came home and took a quick dip in a chlorine pool that the itch upgraded to a burn. The diagnosis? Sunburnt eyes, from the intense glare reflecting off the water.

Astounded, Lee started thinking over how he could stop this from happening again. It was then that he had the first inklings of an idea that would eventually become Sealz; sunglasses that could transition into goggles, protecting your eyes from glare in and out of water.

His first attempt at prototyping used his own pair of sunglasses, which he rigged up with elastic bands and zip ties to create a seal between the sunglasses and his face. This rudimentary prototype was promising, and Lee kept the idea in his mind for some time.

The motivation to actually turn it into a product didn’t come until later. While serving in the army, a helicopter crashed into the ocean causing the unexpected death.of some of his colleagues Lee knew from his own training that disorientation due to poor vision was common in a crash like this. He felt that a product like Sealz could help people in similar situations by rapidly sealing and protecting the user’s eyes. Lee felt even more determined to develop his prototype, to help others in the future, both within the defence force and in the broader community.

Despite three unsuccessful attempts as an entrant into the Army Good Ideas Expo, Lee persisted with Sealz. He taught himself to model using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) programs by looking at tutorials on YouTube and bought a 3D printer. He singlehandedly developed hundreds of prototypes using these tools. Each new version he printed was slightly improved from the last. This trial and error approach eventually gave him a more functional model of Sealz, closer to his vision. In order to better reproduce this goggle design, he created a mould of the model out of plastic.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Lee finally got the funding he needed to move forward. Lee is now in the process of figuring out how to mass produce Sealz for a variety of recreational and professional uses. What started as a basic prototype using simple materials will hopefully soon be available to anyone, helping to protect people’s eyes both in and out of the water.

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