DOWNTOWN — Usually, the simple ideas are the ones that work best.
Local high school student Benji Miller, 17, wanted to hear music while riding his bicycle, but didn’t want to be distracted by earphones.
So, unlike many kids his age would do, he set out to invent a device that would let him listen to his music and be safe while navigating city streets.
More than a few trips to Radio Shack later, he’s created a gadget that is ready for full-scale production.
Dubbed the Allo, Miller’s invention is billed as the world’s first bike-mounted speaker designed specifically for smartphones.
“You could use it as you would normally use a smartphone,” Miller said. “It also allows you to access your phone, make calls and navigate your music.”
Being an entrepreneur isn’t new to the young Miller.
He started his business life by supplying vending machines to businesses around the Westside.
His first client was his father’s law firm, where there was an obvious need for quickie snacks for the staff. Once he decided he wanted to get into the vending business, Miller did his due diligence, searched eBay and found his first machine.
Once it was installed and up and operational it gave the soon-to-be kid inventor reason to think big.
When Miller isn’t attending Wildwood School in West Los Angeles, he’s busy working on his Allo.
That dedication turned into a real device — still in its prototype phase — that Miller decided to start a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for. His goal was to raise $24,000, which he did and is now in the development phase and working with potential manufacturers.
His first order of business is to produce enough bike-mounted speakers for his donors and from there the sky is the limit.
He plans on marketing his device to bike shops in the Southern California area at first, but he and his family see further opportunity.
“It wasn’t a shock when he said he can make money with it,” said his mother Lee Miller. “At first I thought it was a crazy idea, but then he put it together with paper clips and I was surprised how useful it was.”
The Allo’s maiden voyage came during a family and friends bike ride along the beach bike path. Lee Miller said that everybody in their small group was impressed by the speaker’s ability to pour out sound. It was a sure shot that Benji Miller had something and they needed, as a family, to nurture his ambition.
“He’s one of those guys who is always looking for a solution to a problem,” said Benji’s father, Ron Miller. “He wanted to listen to music and have his phone accessible while he was on his bike.
“He spends a lot of time on his bike and it seemed like a natural solution.”
And Benji Miller’s solution may turn out to be a lucrative one.
Smartphone industry website BGR.com reports that the accessory industry accounted for $12 billion in 2012 alone and insiders figure that number will continue to rise as people adopt the technology.
But, for Benji Miller, he just wants to roll out and listen to his tunes.
“I’m just an avid biker who wants to have music on my bike,” he said.
Although the young inventor has secured his seed money, don’t expect to see the Allo on store shelves anytime soon.
He expects the first commercially available products to be shipped either in the fall or winter of 2014.