Once a S.P.E.A.R model was created and the patents were granted, Rohrich created PowerPoint presentations to deliver to potential investors. So far, response to the newly debuted invention has been good.

The Discovery Channel filmed the S.P.E.A.R for an episode of the show Smash Lab, in which a team of engineers takes everyday technology and tries to use it in revolutionary new ways. The episode with the S.P.E.A.R aired in February 2008 and focused on the fireproof insulation, Aerogel, that Elliptical Mobile Solutions uses in the S.P.E.A.R.

On the show, engineers attempted to create a "fireproof house," with an Aerogel shield that could withstand the heat created by a forest fire. To work, Aerogel had to be able to endure temperatures as high as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The experiment was almost a success, but loose threads from the carbon-fiber blankets the engineers used caught fire. A lab test showed that the S.P.E.A.R. could withstand 1,900-degree flame from a blowtorch and remain cool to the touch. (You can view video excerpts from the Smash Lab episode featuring the S.P.E.A.R. at www.youtube.com/ellipticalmobile).

The S.P.E.A.R. struts its stuff for cameras on KDBC 4 News in El Paso, Texas.
courtesy of Simon Rohrich
The S.P.E.A.R. struts its stuff for cameras on KDBC 4 News in El Paso, Texas.
courtesy of Simon Rohrich

In the episode, when Smash Lab engineer Chuck Messer (chairman of the Shared Design Alliance and founder of the Open Prosthetics Project, an organization that promotes free sharing of prosthetic designs "for public benefit") wheels the S.P.E.A.R. into the team's lab, he marvels at the machine.

"This thing is great," he muses. "This is a super-high-tech mobile server station. It's like a whole IT department rolled up into this box. It's pretty amazing."

Avondale is the biggest purchaser of the S.P.E.A.R. so far.

"We have implemented a disaster program that requires about 22 terabytes of disk space, and it requires quite a bit of effort to move," says Kevin Hinderleider, the city's director of information technology. (To give an idea of the size of 22 terabytes, the Library of Congress announced in May 2008 that it had collected more than 82.6 terabytes of data). "[The program] basically locks us in one place, and if we need to move it, we have to bring in a truck and a lift, have guys load the equipment on the truck, transport it, and then unload, power up, and reconfigure the whole thing when we get it to another location. The S.P.E.A.R. gives us the capability to roll it in, install the racks, and plug into a power connection in about a third of the time it would otherwise take."

Rohrich hopes other cities — and even the military and federal organizations like FEMA — will follow Avondale's lead. Buying a S.P.E.A.R. outright costs about $100,000 (EMS offers financing options), but the units can be leased for six months for $20,000.

In addition to Avondale, Rohrich says Elliptical Mobile Solutions is also talking to other cities and counties in Arizona. But Rohrich says the organization that really needs it is FEMA.

"They would have had instant communications," Rohrich explains, using Hurricane Katrina as an example. "They could have had it on pontoon boats, they could have had it on trucks — satellite communication, computer, telephone systems, and backup power supply, all in one place. So you would have had radio and police communications, data, Wi-Fi, etc. People wouldn't have been stranded for two weeks with no communication."

Rohrich says market acceptance is one of the biggest challenges for independent inventors. He likens trying to sell the S.P.E.A.R. to government agencies to trying sell a plane that can fly without propellers to Boeing.

"They've never seen anything like it before, and it's so revolutionary that they don't understand how it could work," he says. But with the S.P.E.A.R., he adds, "we basically built a UFO."


It's another Wednesday night at Encanto Park, and Simon Rohrich has gone from progressive to aggressive. After sitting in front of a computer monitor for 10 straight hours, squinting at fractions and percentages, he's ready to kick some SCA ass.

Rohrich digs through his box of armor, pulling each piece out and laying it on the ground. Then he shows off the new rattan sword he made. Holding the purple suede hilt in one hand and the blunted tip in the other, he bends the five-foot-long stick to demonstrate its flexibility and its effects on the human flesh. "I hit Bill so hard once his skin exploded," Rohrich says of his friend and business partner, Woodbury.

Several women walk by and greet Rohrich with, "Good evening, my lord." A few of his fellow fighters come up and give him a fraternal smack on the back. Everybody here knows him.

"Bill and I are like rock stars here," Rohrich says. "But I don't do it for the hero worship . . . Okay, I do it for the hero worship," he adds with a grin.

Despite being picked on throughout his formative years, Rohrich really does appear to get the last laugh.

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6 comments
buffalobills515
buffalobills515

Love the story. It is great to hear a fellow SCA guy doing great things in the world. I will need to put a post about this inventive warrior on my medieval blog

Dennis Ward
Dennis Ward

Simon used to work with/for me a few years ago at ValueOptions. He's a gentle giant and I'd definitely want him in my corner.Glad things are going good for you, Simon.

Simon Rohrich
Simon Rohrich

I hope you have been practicing. ;-)Thank you for the doubleedged compliment. You and you household are formidable. I do ride on my rep. I don't hurt anyone on purpose. Any injury I cause that results in financial loss I feel terrible about.

see you in two weeks,thank you in advance-Nerd of War-

BammBamm
BammBamm

Only the bravest men dare poke the bear. Let alone 2 of them. See you @ practice

Leo
Leo

Its about freaking time you guys did a story on the SCA here in Arizona and the fact that you did one about Simon shows some actual intelligence. Simon is a straight thug and the inventor of the phrase "militant geeks" Alot of the time though he rides to much on his reputation as a bone breaker. He hurts one guy a year and the rest of the year everybody in the game is like "OOOH here comes Simon and Bam BAm." But us Romans have no fear and Constantly have to show the rest of the community that he isnt that mean. Believe me though when I step on the field the first thing I do is look for Simon cause when he hits you and your not aware of it its like being struck by a runaway train. But if your ready for him he falls just like all the rest. Good luck selling your Spear Brother and remember Saterday Night at Highlands is the bucket party swing by your more then welcome LORD LEO Roman Thunder

 
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