This story comes from Texas Standard.
The weather is warming up and kids across Texas are finding ways to stay cool as they play outside. One longtime favorite is a good old-fashioned water balloon fight. But a Texas man may have changed the game forever.
“Where I’m from in West Texas originally, it’s very hot and dry in the summers, and there’s very much a lack of things to do,” Kendall Harter says.
Harter grew up to become an inventor. He’s the founder and CEO of Blue Matrix Labs in Austin. He created a hot-selling cleaning product, a sandwich maker he describes as something out of “The Jetsons,” and ZORBZ.
“I always go back to my childhood and think of things I wish I had. And certainly a self-sealing water balloon would be one of those,” Harter says.
That’s right. No more tying. ZORBZ is described as the world’s only self-sealing water balloons.
“And essentially you fill it up to a level that you like, and you remove it from the spigot like so, you hold it in the upright position and we have what’s called ‘snap and seal’ and it seals, like that,” Harter says.
Texas Standard gave a pack of ZORBZ to Garrett, Max and Livia Henderson to try.
“Yeah. It really does work. I mean. Wow,” Garrett Henderson says.
But, manning the hose, Garrett’s mom, Carmen Henderson, didn’t have 100 percent success.
“I’m trying to tie it because that little piece went down low,” Carmen Henderson says.
Harter says he’s working on a solution for that part, too. His new “Insta-Seal” water balloons go one step further than the current snap and seal ones. They won Popular Science Magazine’s “Best in Show” at the North American International Toy Fair in New York this February. And Harter’s got a couple of products that aim to make filling easier – starting with the combat trigger filler.
“When you attach the balloon and you pull the trigger, it fills the water balloon and you can just pull the water balloon off of it, and it seals instantly, so it’s pretty cool and quick, and it also saves water,” Harter says. “But a better solution even is our upcoming ZORBZ replicator that fills 12 or 24 water balloons at a time and works under the same methods.”
Harter says he’s found success in niche markets, looking for solutions to problems that big toy companies like Mattel or Hasbro see as too small. And sometimes he just tries to think like a 10-year-old trying to deal with the Texas heat.
“I’m 45 years old now, I finally have a self-sealing water balloon. But I enjoy it just as much as a 10-year-old, I assure you,” Harter says.