Entrepreneur creates app designed to strengthen memory
06/12/2013 06:21PM ● Published by ACL
Ray Omholt, founder and chief excutive officer of Memory-on-Demand.
By Richard L. Gaw
Eighty-three year-old Ray Omholt of Chadds Ford has lived two lives separated by a disabling stroke at age sixty, in what he would easily compartmentalize as "Ray One" and "Ray Two." Ray One was defined and motivated by ambition, business power, and financial success. Ray Two, a very different man, is now about to unveil a mobile application that he believes will help the lives of millions of people because this is his post-stroke commitment.
"Ray One was a driver, an entrepreneur, a guy who 'gets it done,' a true narcissist," Omholt said. "He knew a wide variety of people nationally, but they were not close friends. Ray Two is completely different and very much into relationships. He makes time for family and many good friends. He wants to use whatever talents and knowledge he possesses to help people."
By the time he was in his 20s, Omholt had graduated with an engineering degree from Lehigh University and had gone into the manufacturing of sports products on an international basis, chiefly in the construction of athletic courts for universities and major sports facilities. During his career, he was granted 48 patents in his name. He traveled around the world on business, in an entrepreneurial style typical of the 1950s and 1960s. He had contacts all over the country, in nearly every city. He was healthy. He could take on stress as if it were just another business adversary.
On Saturday, October 12, 1990, the 60-year-old Omholt was in San Francisco to visit a business colleague at a design conference. He happened to be having dinner with his daughter, a resident of the area. Sitting at the dinner table, he became nauseous, and excused himself. In bed, he heard something snap at the base of his brain. He was taken to a nearby hospital, and at about four o'clock in the morning he overheard two doctors standing nearby say, "This man is dying. He'll be gone by morning. Contact his wife and then tag him."
He wanted to address them to tell them that he was very much alive, but he couldn't move. He was paralyzed. Although it was the worst night of his life, Omholt also said that it was the best night of his life. He had a near-death experience. "The commitment I made as I was lying there was simple," Omholt said. "You can talk to God when you're having a near-death experience. I promised God that if he would let me survive, in the future, I would apply my talents and drive to helping other people."
Weeks later, Omholt woke up from the effects of his stroke. He had no memory, but instead of succumbing to the effects of the stroke, he spent the next few years learning all that he could about improving his memory and how to program computers. Some days, he would study up to 12 hours a day. Eventually, he used his new-found knowledge to found Legacy Profiles, a company that helped individuals tell the stories of their lives using memory-restoration techniques that he had developed. He was awarded a patent for this process.
Now, using the basics he applied with Legacy Profiles, Omholt has become the founder and chief executive officer of Memory-on-Demand, in collaboration with Dr. William P. Wagner, a professor in the School of Business at Villanova University. Together, Omholt and Wagner have developed a breakthrough software design called MemriBank, a mobile computer application that can help everyone from schoolchildren suffering from ADHD and learning difficulties to the salesperson needing to remember data and figures, to the busy executive or parent juggling family, job, and other obligations. By the use of "trigger" connector words, someone using MemriBank can not only store data but link it to other data -- a DNA trail of vital information that can be remembered and accessed in seconds. Omholt has a patent pending on this process.
By use of repetition, visual association, visual landscape and auditory pathways, MemriBank utilizes multiple information pathways in the brain to maximize the memory process and extend one's retention time. For instance, a two-word organizational header can be connected to a thought line and then to another; similarly, related words and thought-lines can also be grouped together.
MemriBank, Omholt said, can help students with learning difficulties perform better by organizing their thoughts and improve their memory, concentration and organization, as well as help to reduce forgetfulness and procrastination.
He sees MemriBank becoming a common tool in the classroom, and has already met with several teachers and school administrators, as well as with many parents. "I tell parents that they must spend 15 minutes a night with their child for 60 days helping their children learn MemriBank until the application becomes a habit for him or her," Omholt said. I tell parents that this application will help organize their child's life in a way they never knew before."
In school, Omholt said, "We want teachers to say to children using MemriBank, 'If you come into my classroom and use your mobile memory support system, I will stand up and cheer for you because you can earn much better grades.'"
MemriBank also serves the greater population, by helping them strengthen their memory by the use of three categories on the application: "Names and Links," "You'll Enjoy It," and "Everything Else." "You can't remember the name of a movie that someone recommended to you three months ago? MemriBank can not only give you the name of the movie, but the person who recommended it to you," Omholt said.
The price of each unit of software will be $4.99, and Omholt is currently seeking investors to develop start-up capital for the company. His goal is to sell five million units worldwide in the two years. "My primary target audience is five million children, and I am determined to help them," Omholt said. "Ray One and Ray Two are known for one thing: Once we make a commitment, we always honor it."
An updated version of MemriBank will be available in the Apple App Store on July 5th, 2013. For additional information about the MemriBank application, visit www.memory-on-demand.com.