Bumpass man ending spy games
Joe Bouza of Bumpass, with his anti-espionage electronic storage device.
A Bumpass man’s invention has done something that numerous high-profile politicians are struggling to do this election year: make it into the White House.
On June 19, after a four-and-a-half year waiting period, Joe Bouza received a concept patent for his high-tech storage devices that are now being utilized in the White House, Pentagon, and other high-security locations. Bouza’s invention combats the ever-growing threat that portable electronic devices (PEDs)–such as cell phones, personal digital assistants, pagers and laptops–are posing to national security.
“People keep bringing cell phones into secure spaces, not allowed,” Bouza said. “It’s very, very bad. We all know the bad things that can happen with cell phones. Now amplify that with people working in national security stuff and we’ve got a big problem.”
After hearing inquiries on how to solve the predicament from various government officials who received repeated warnings from the Defense Intelligence Agency, Bouza joined forces with the Arlington-based national security company Vector Technologies in 2006 to create a solution. After a four-month design process and an
additional six months of refining, Bouza and his associates created the prototype for his anti-eavesdropping device.
The prototype, which is a box-shaped device with compartments inside, can be placed either right outside or inside a room where confidential conversations will occur. Users can easily open the lid and place their PEDs inside and the device will not only keep the conversation private, but it will charge the users’ PEDs as well.
To prevent technology that is being brought into high-security locations from turning into a tool of espionage and a significant threat to the countries Bousa’s invention attacks what he believes are the biggest threats that a PED can pose.
“There are three technical threats” Bouza said. “One is the wireless device itself, the camera your phone has in it, and also the microphone, because it can be a recorder.”
The product effectively negates each of the three threats directly. Specialized metal fabrics inside the seal distort radio frequencies that PEDs emit, thwarting potential hackers. Also, when closed, the boxes produce white noise, overriding the PED’s microphones and compromising any hidden recording devices. Finally, the PED’s camera is rendered ineffective because of the dark compartment it resides in.
The invention now comes in three models with varying sizes and storage capacity. The five-inch wide Sentinel model holds a single cell phone, while the larger 22-inch models, the Guardian and the Guardian G2, can hold 10 and 20 cell phones respectively.
With his products, Bouza exhibits a dedicated hands-on approach. All of the containers are built at his home, and whenever a problem arises, Bouza said he is quick to travel straight to the source.
“We’ve very serious. If our customers have a problem, I get in my car and drive up to Washington DC,” said Bouza, who estimates he makes at least one trip a month to the area.
Along the way, Bouza has also had to deal with copycats and competitors with questionable designing similarities with his product. To combat this, Bouza said he has worked tirelessly with nationally recognized third-party companies Signalscape and MET Laboratories to run tests on the product’s effectiveness. With papers of data supporting his products claims, Bouza reiterated his confidence.
“This can’t fail,” he said. “If our box fails, huge secrets get listened to. We passed every test.”
Bouza’s work on the anti-eavesdropping device is not the first time he has dabbled in the field of national security. After founding his own mechanical engineering business, North Pointe Associates Incorporated, in 1985, he worked as a consultant with Vector on developing easily assembled tents layered with metallic fabrics to give officials a place for secure communications at any location. Recently, Vector signed their first contract with the Department of Energy for the product, and expects to start making deliveries by the end of the month.
“We are where we are as a result of a lot of hard work over the past six years, and as a result, we now have a lot of cool products to sell,” Bouza said.
Bouza is also hoping to receive a process patent in the near future to join his concept patent for his anti-eavesdropping device. Until then, Bouza has resumed his work on both his tents and boxes, continuously tinkering and improving the designs in the upstairs workshop of his house.
“It’s a lot of high tech stuff, you don’t find this stuff in Wal-Mart, he said. “It’s a need and it performs something that is very important to our country. All of this has happened in the little town of Bumpass, isn’t that cool?”