Company: HQ Inc., Palmetto
Principals: Bill Hicks, president
The big idea: The firm's main products are the CorTemp Ingestible Body Temperature Sensor and the CorTemp Data Recorder. The sensor is a pill that transmits a body temperature while it travels through the digestive track. The recorder picks up the data and converts them into digital format for analysis.
The potential marketplace for the product is deep, but sustainable sales have been elusive, say officials at the six-employee company. The firm shares some employees with Quest Controls, a sister company.
HQ Inc. targets customers ranging from high school football teams to firefighters, coal miners and oil and gas workers. Marathon runners have used the product, and so too have climbers ascending Mount McKinley. There's also a non-human variation of the product, which has gone in racecar engines, cows and paper mill machinery.
Still, even though the product has been around since 1990, the technology hasn't caught on in a big way. “I think we were ahead of its time,” says HQ Sales and Marketing Director Lee Carbonelli. “But general consumers are starting to see this more and more.”
One large obstacle, says Carbonelli, is the price point — a challenge the firm has worked on for several years. The pills cost about $20 each, while the machine runs from $2,600 to $3,000. Clients receive discounts on multiple CorTemp pills and machines,
The firm hopes to lower the price in a new Bluetooth version of the product, named Elite, which could be on the market by the end of 2013, says Carbonelli.