Niche Product: The Rescue Reel

Kevin R. Stone is an orthopedic surgeon and an unlikely inventor.

When Kevin had seen footage of people jumping out of the windows of the World Trade Center on 9/11, he was inspired. He went to work on a device that would allow people to escape from a tall building, through the window, in the event of a serious emergency. His device became the Rescue Reel, reports The New York Times.

The device, called Rescue Reel, will retail for around $2,000. To escape, people strap themselves into the harness, lock the reel to a stationary point like a door frame and gently propel themselves backward down the outside of a building.

Using the fishing reel as a base concept, Dr. Stone hired Think2Build, a San Francisco design company, to help him create the device. Dr. Stone said the biggest engineering challenge was finding a way that people of differing weights could fall at a speed that would not injure them when they hit the ground — no faster than two seconds per story (which means it would have taken about four minutes to flee the upper floors of the twin towers). Ultimately, the designers incorporated a centripetal braking system, which produces more friction at higher weights.

The device, which uses Kevlar ropes, will be available in 30-, 60- and 100-story lengths. For taller buildings, such as those in Dubai, Dr. Stone said custom lengths could be created.

Dr. Stone said he had invested more than a million dollars in creating the harness. “I want to make that contribution by that anniversary,” Dr. Stone said.

Video after the jump

Photo by Rescue Reel

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