In through the outfield blog

17 posts from January 2008

30 January 2008

New competition for inventors

A press release has just been sent out by the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys warning of the dangers in giving away details of your invention.

The Ideal Home Show is celebrating 100 years and so for its annual exhibition it is hosting a competition called InnovationNation. The ten most promising inventions that are sent in will be "showcased" at the Show in March, at London's Earl's Court. Only UK residents may apply. Adam Hart-Davis, who has hosted many science-related programmes on television, will be involved.

The press release is in fact Hart-Davis' own plea that the entrants do not lose their rights. Sending in details of an invention that hasn't yet been applied for as a patent is, to put it mildly, inadvisable. This is called "disclosure" unless done in confidence, such as the recepients filling in a non-disclosure form. This hardly applies to all those watching the show. Steps are being taken to ensure that the inventors' rights will not be lost.

In my experience private inventors are divided fairly evenly between those who refuse to give even a clue to how the invention works and those who are only too eager to disclose all they know. Rather like the chap who used his mobile to read out his credit card details to someone while travelling on a train to Newport the other week.

Sometimes the advantage of the invention can be explained without giving away how it works. A new type of writing instrument that saved 30% of the current cost of ballpoint pens yet was as compact and  convenient would be of interest to manufacturers and venture capitalists, for example. Concepts for doing business on the Internet are, sadly, usually neither able to be explained in this way, nor patentable in the UK.

The Google Generation’ - no good at researching on the web

The launch of the British Library and JISC commissioned report ‘Information behaviour of the researcher of the future’ has sparked significant debate in cyberspace which is excellent. Here is a link to a 35 page pdf of the full report: ‘Information Behavior of the Researcher of the Future’

Here are links to a selection of comments:

Globe and Mail - 24 January

The Observer, 27/01/2008, p.12, John  Naughton

Joanne Jacobs


The Keyword blog

Intelligent Agent

28 January 2008

Blended wing aircraft

A friend passed on to me something that I'd somehow missed -- Boeing's work on a "blended wing aircraft", where the cargo or passengers are sited within a massive, triangular wing.

Apparently in 2006 there was a hoax going about on the Web stating that this was going to be the new 797 model for passenger use, but the company states that there is no possibility of using it for that purpose for at least 20 years. A prototype first flew in July 2007 at Edwards Air Force Base, codenamed the X-48B.

There's a lot of information about the concept in the patents. The Variable Size Blended Wing Body Aircraft is a good start. Here is the main drawing.

First page clipping image

This was applied for in 2001, but as long ago as 1977 the company applied for a patent for a Midcabin Door for Blended Wing Aircraft. Evidently the company wants to use it for military use. A problem with it as a passenger aircraft would be that only those in the front seats would get an, admittedly fantastic, view. It reminds me of the Thunderbirds aircraft.

25 January 2008

The Dyson Bladeâ„¢

I was in the Victoria & Albert the other day and when I went to dry my hands after visiting the toilet I noticed a new (to me) wall-mounted air dryer, called the Dyson Blade.

A rush of cold air emerging from a thin slit slammed into my hands, which were placed within a groove shaped to fit the hands. It dries hands in ten seconds, much less than the normal time of the ones that lumber into action and slowly get warm. It is the speed of the air that does it, evidently, squeezed through a slot no wider than an eyelash. A fellow blogger has a picture of it on their site. Certainly cool in every way. James Dyson started as an industrial designer, and it shows.

Of course, when I got home I tracked down the patent specification, Drying Apparatus. It was only published in February 2007 so it's quite new. It is being marketed in the USA as the Dyson AirBladeâ„¢.

Damp hands are much more liable to contamination than dry hands, and the Dyson web site claims that it uses 80% less energy than other hand driers.

24 January 2008

greentomato eco kits for a greener life

Once again Springwise have come up with a brilliant idea. This time it is greentomato eco kits which sell for a reasonable £9.99. They describe the kit as an essential starting point for people who want to live greener lifestyles but don’t know where to start.

kitphotos-introimg.gifThe kit includes a range of items designed to make a quick and simple impact on your enviromental impact.

As you can see below they have strong set of principles.

At greentomato, we don’t believe in producing something unless it will have a positive net effect on the environment. That’s why each item in the kit obeys the following four basic rules:

1. Universality
Wherever you live, whatever you live in, you should be able to use every item in the kit. If you already have one of the items, DON’T THROW IT AWAY! You can still use it - to give to a friend, relative or even your neighbour. There’s no doubt we could throw away much less, and whilst we’re at it, maybe even chat a little more with our neighbours.

2. Net environmental benefit
Of course it consumes resources to make everything in the kit, but this rule ensures that the energy and waste benefits of each item is significantly greater than the energy and resource cost of manufacturing it. Not to mention the item’s influence on general awareness and behaviour…

3. Low cost and / or saving you money
We think that £9.99 is a pretty good price for all this, which is only possible because we have selected items that are good value for money. They also actually save you money - £50 per year for the average household and more than £100 if you use the items well and follow the message of living a low waste lifestyle.

4. Simple to understand and install
Fiddly things are annoying, which is why all the items in the greentomatokit are easy to understand and easy to install. If there’s anything you don’t understand, please feel free to drop us a line using the feedback form.

22 January 2008

Mark Prisk at the British Library Business and IP Centre

Mark Prisk the Shadow Minister for Business and Enterprise came to visit the Business & IP Centre on 11 December and was suitably impressed. For his visit we were able to introduce him to Dee Wright of The Hairforce, one of our ’success stories’. She made a big impression on him as can be seen on the Conservative Business Relations website.


Mark Prisk Meeting Dee Wright

21 January 2008

Broadcast your invention to the world

I was recently contacted by Roger Nettleford who I met at the Business Startup show at Olympia in last year.

He is the founder of an online video business start up site which allows members of the public and entrepreneurs to broadcast their business ideas or inventions using a short video.

The site is still being developed but Roger believes that there are many people who have a great idea or invention but don’t have funds for marketing. He sees the site as YouTube meets Dragons Den, because potential investors are alerted once a video or webpage of interest is uploaded to a selected subject area. He sees this site as a catalyst for business start up assistance and innovation and expects to add ‘How to’ business advisory videos in the future.


19 January 2008

Facebook infringes Scrabble copyright

Here is yet another example of ‘civilians’ lack of understanding of the role of Intellectual Property.

Apparently Facebook users are up in arms about the loss of Srabulous from their screens. However they don’t seem to realise that Hasbro, who own the rights to the game in the US and Canada, and Mattel who own the rights elsewhere in the world, would be unhappy about someone moving into their lucrative territory.