It's that time.

Christmas and giving are certainly tied together in our culture.  The demographic of young families and heart-stopping lists is busy right now, combing store flyers, making clandestine stops to get it right.  And then there's the group of Christmas buyers no longer tied to that kind of magic.  They're looking for gifts that solve problems, offer dual purpose.

Ideally, we should be spending our gift dollars locally, supporting our Barrie area businesses that in turn support our charities and health services.  A bus trip to drop thousands at a mall in the US might be temporary fun but it does nothing for our local economy.

So, here's a gift that might solve a lot of problems.  You're at your favourite Christmas tree farm with the family and you've selected the perfect tree, about to cut it down, and the family is posed for the picture.  You whip off your gloves, grab your iphone, blackberry, or camera and snap the picture.

Or, you're at the top of a mountain (or a hill if you're in Ontario) and the family gathers for the annual ski trip photo.  Off come the gloves so you can get the picture.  Or, you're out walking the dog, your iphone rings and the screen tells you it's your daughter calling.  Off come the gloves while you grapple with leash, scoop bag, and try to answer the phone.  Or, somebody in the parking lot of the grocery store asks if you've got photos of your grandchildren and you whip out your phone to show a few... off come your gloves... you get the picture!

Because our phones have become so much more than calling devices, they're generally with us all the time.  And in the winter, using them is a problem... unless you want to activate them with your nose!

Lawrence Crook was director of digital marketing for The Source.  As a cell user, an ipad lover, an ipod jogger, he constantly was whipping off his gloves to activate a device.

It was exactly a year ago when he whipped off the winter gloves to take a picture and figured there had to be a better way.  He began the research and thought about construction workers, police, winter sports enthusiasts, kids with electronic games, and dog walkers.

Our fingers transmit about 3 kilovolts of electricity (enough to activate the capcitive screen of most electronic devices), and Lawrence wanted to have several styles of gloves with a conductive agent that would send an electro magnetic signal to the operating system on a screen. [this is the only science lesson in this article]

Lawrence designed several types of gloves, all with spandex for a snug fit, and all with silver in the finger tips, not the finger pads.  That way, ipad users can have full function.

Slide'em Smart Gloves were born and hit their e commerce website on September 12, mirroring Apple's iphone5 launch on the same day.

Smart Gloves come in several styles and sizes--all purpose, winter sports, safety, liners for bigger gloves, and very recently, the kids gaming glove.

Slide'em tested the kids gloves at a local school.  200 8-9 year olds assembled in the school library, and Lawrence gave a science lesson on the difference between touch screens and capcitive screens (which require electricity or silver to operate).  Of the 200 students, 96% had touch screen devices but only 1 had a specialized glove.  At $11.95, the kids gaming gloves are sure to be a hit.  Bright neon colours and great prices.

Lawrence has a number of subcontractors who are making Slide'em the growth company that it's become.  Web design, manufacture in China, a global supply chain expert, new fabric development... Lawrence is currently shipping locally with Canada Post and worldwide with UPS.  He contracted with a sales agency so he could hit the ground running.  Ecommerce on the www.slideem.com website makes this a global company.

"We're selling all over the world," he says.  The gloves should hit store shelves at The Source just before Christmas and he's in discussion now with Canadian Tire,  Toys R Us, Walmart and he's presenting his products at retail trade show events across North America.

Keeping up with demand is the big challenge right now and Lawrence says web site purchases are the most reliable way to get the product right now.  They're working on a new sizing chart so they can satisfy people's personal preference.

Lawrence quit his job last March to pursue this venture and he's one happy person these days.  "I"ve been creative my whole life and the exciting part of this is in the research and development.  Watching those kids get really enthused with the kids' gaming gloves was quite exciting, too," he says.

"We have a great return policy and we get great online feedback," he says.  And for Barrie area Examiner readers who want to order, Lawrence is offering a FREESHIP code, so you can truly shop local!

What a great gift!  Solves a problem; puts a smile on a face; and supports local business.  Win! Win! Win!

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