I know it was mentioned briefly before but let me mention it again. The prior art search (IP and current products) is the most crucial next step. To continue with currently available product will waste your resources; plus you would better know your competition and could design around them. Google has a decent patent search but the best thing to do is find a local public search facility (http://www.uspto.gov/products/library/search/
), where they have access to the same caliber tools of the patent examiners in the USPTO.
Based on your post, it seems like product licensing is your best bet. There are numerous resources on the steps to take to get there. I'm an inventor and I'm not going to pretend that this is easy (still trying to get to market), but I have no regrets going along this path so far. Here is an article from a very well respected inventor, Roger Brown, where he gives a 12-step process to getting your invention to market with little cost (http://www.inventorsdigest.com/?p=5042
In addition, I urge you to check out any company you want to deal with before hand by researching them thoroughly and checking them out with the Better Business Bureau and UIA. There are many product development companies out there with good intentions I know of four whom I have personal contact and know that they are legitimate: Quirky.com, EdisonNation.com (they are casting their Everyday Edisons TV Show ow so hurry up), Spark Engineering (http://www.sparkengineering.com
), and Trident Design (http://www.trident-design.com
). There is also a great list of inventor-friendly companies that has helped me (http://www.inventorsdigest.com/?page_id=166
I hope this helps. Good Luck!
Olugbenga "Tumi" Oredein Jr.
O-Zone Product Development