Working as an adjunct professor for 18 years at Penn State Great Valley, Robert Vito was enticed by a student’s question: What if you could make a bulletproof vest lighter, stronger and more flexible? “Not only would you be able to make a soldier safer and better prepared for battle, but you’d also be able to take over and dominate sports,” says Vito.
Vito dedicated 10 years and $10 million to this research, and in 2008, he created Unequal Technologies, a company that produces protective equipment for athletes and the military. Unequal® brand products feature a military-grade three-layer composite fortified with Kevlar®. The technology has been used in more than 10,000 vests for troops.
Unequal Technologies quickly gained recognition in the sports arena from teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles, which reached out to Vito in 2011 to protect its star quarterback, Michael Vick. “ESPN has selected us as one of the top technologies that made a difference in sports,” says Vito.
In the last year, the company has been contacted by the commissioner of Major League Baseball, X Games competitors and professional boxers. “The most surprising call we received came from Tom Cruise, who was looking for the best possible protection after enduring significant injuries while filming the last ‘Mission Impossible’ movie,” says Vito. “We’re moving from military to sports to Hollywood!”
But Vito is most proud of the custom defibrillator covers his company created at the request of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. One of its patients was a young girl with a passion for diving. Vito built a concealed defibrillator cover into her swimsuit, allowing her to continue diving without worrying about the impact on her defibrillator when she hits the water.
Vito and his wife of 11 years have two daughters. One plays softball and wraps Unequal tape – a baseball tape with Unequal’s Armor Skin™ in the center – around the handle of her bat to absorb the shock from each pitch.