In the Perkins Products showroom, one device stands out from the rest. When turned on, the LightAide™, a grid of rainbow-hued LED lights controlled by a switch, seems to come to life.
The woman behind the LightAide, Dr. Catherine Rose, was honored for her invention by Boston Children’s Hospital, which presented her with the Rising Star Award at its Annual Global Pediatric Innovation Summit on October 31.
The award, which comes with a $25,000 prize, is given to nominees who accomplish “an outstanding achievement in healthcare of unusual merit and independence of thought and originality that significantly impacts pediatric care.”
Rose, a senior product engineer at Philips, came up with the idea for the LightAide after seeing a wall of LED lights in a Philips showroom. When she brought her daughter Alexis, who is deafblind, to the showroom, the youngster responded excitedly to the intensely bright lights.
After three years of design and development, the LightAide went on sale in 2013. It’s manufactured by Philips and produced and distributed by Perkins Products.
“Teachers have been awestruck by the LightAide,” said Laura Matz, director of sales and marketing for Perkins Products. “The bright and moving lights motivate students to participate in a multitude of activities that have specific learning goals – this is a huge move forward to engage and teach students with cortical visual impairment or limited residual vision.”
Since the LightAide was introduced, Rose has pushed for greater access to technology for all families of children with visual impairments or other disabilities. In her Rising Star acceptance speech, Rose promised to continue advocating for children who might benefit from accessible devices.
“I can’t stop until every child who needs technology has it available for them – if it’s a LightAide or room lighting to help heal and calm patients and their families – to give them a sense of normal,” she said. “I want to thank you for this award – it appreciates where my journey has taken me over the past nine years. I’m eager to push for what I can accomplish over the next 40 years.”
Rose was nominated for the award by Amber Bobnar, digital project manager at Perkins and founder of WonderBaby.org, which has hosted giveaways and contests featuring the LightAide. Rose was joined at the Innovation Summit by Lifetime Impact Award winner David G. Nathan, MD, president emeritus of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and physician-in-chief emeritus of Boston Children's Hospital.