Saturday, March 6, 2010


I don't know if you knew this, but my brother in law, Mat Johnson, is kind of a big deal. He's been telling us that for years, but now I'm starting to believe it.

He invented a medical device called the Phrazer. It is a communication device that will be used when there is a language barrier between care-givers and patients.

You're saying, "but Sarah, that's already invented, just go to Google translator, and it's free." No, you're wrong, this isn't a translator, this is a communicator. It takes into account cultural factors like body language and phrasing that is particular to certain cultures. When the patient is using the device they see a real doctor from their culture asking them questions about their ailment. While the patient is answering the questions on the device, the on-site doctor, who is wearing an earpiece, is hearing specific information like what language the patient speaks, what culture they are from etc. There is nothing like this in the world. IN THE WORLD. It takes medical care from the third world to the first world. (that's what they said in the presentation last night and I liked it.)

There was a party last night to celebrate Mat's company, Geacom, and the development of the Bulldog model of the Phrazer. It was held at the Duluth Convention Center. The program featured doctors and caregivers who work around the world and emphasized how desperately a device like this is needed. Art Fry, the inventor of the Post-it note was one of the speakers.

He doesn't always wear that Post-it on his head.
(Well, he wasn't last night, anyway.)

Mr. Fry talked about innovative ideas and creating something new where there is a need and nothing to fill the need. It was very interesting. He put this cartoon up on the giant screens while talking about innovation.

I was laughing because look at Zog. He's wearing glasses. Where did he get the glasses?

After the presentations there was a wonderful dinner where you could go around the giant ballroom and try foods from around the world. Kira was sitting at a table with her cousins and some friends and I saw her walk by with a glass with about 50 maraschino cherries and 7-up, and a plate of mini-eclairs. (We're going to talk about choices later.)

It was a lot of fun and very exciting for Mat. Check out the links on this post (above; the words in different colors and also this video) and see what he's been up to. You'll think he's a big deal then too.


  1. CONGRATS to Mat! I am really impressed.

  2. I saw an article in today's St. Paul Pioneer Press re: this! This is a huge deal!

  3. That is so cool! I just read that article too. It is so interesting to see this develop from the "inside."


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