In through the outfield blog

10 posts from August 2009

27 August 2009

The X-bow on ships

I was watching a TV programme last night about redesigning ships after disasters like the loss of the Titanic and the Estonia car ferry.

A new solution is the X-bow. The traditional ship's bow is narrow and raked, but this one is designed to form a huge snout, with the bow not sticking out at all. It is inverted, and is more like a bulge.

This means that as the ship moves through the water the bow's centre of gravity is lower than is traditional. Movement forward in rough seas is easier, and the bow does not move up and down as much as normal. The ship can also move forward faster.

Here is the main drawing from the patent application from Ulstein Design AS (of Norway), Foreship arrangement for a vessel of the displacement type

X-bow on ship patent  

It shows the ship's bow as seen from the side. The programme said that when the engineers asked that a model be tried out for seaworthiness in a testing tank, the experts scoffed and said that it would sink. On the contrary: sensors showed that in heavy seas much less pressure was being exerted on the bow than in traditional designs. It was that kind of pressure that ripped off the doors of the Estonia car ferry.

It may seem strange that it has taken so long for a new design to be thought of. This video shows the new design in action.


20 August 2009

Business Librarians’ Association conference I mentioned a while back (To Blog or not to Blog? That is the question), I was invited to speak on a panel at the  Business Librarians’ Association (formally BBSLG) annual conference in Dublin. The chair of the session David Meehan has just posted a short review of the session with some kind remarks relating to my contribution.

My fellow panellists were Dr. John Breslin (Electronic Engineering, NUIG; Researcher at DERI) speaking about the social semantic web, and Ian Manzie (Business Manager Ireland, Thomson Reuters) on their new web-based ‘Academy’ approach to training users.

How to lose friends and alienate people, not the rather irritating memoir by Toby Young about his failed five-year effort to make it in the U.S. as a contributing editor at  Vanity Fair magazine.

This is about adding people to mailing lists without their consent. As an early Internet adopter with my own domain name, I tend to attract a great deal of spam and have become somewhat blasé about it. Although I might feel different if I wasn’t protected from it (Spam lovely spam)

However as Rasheed Ogunlaru points out in his latest blog post How to lose business before you’ve won it… Pt 1, it is ‘rude, presumptuous, lazy and an invasion of privacy‘.

I agree with Rasheed, it is not only disrespectful of the customer relationship, it also risks falling foul of the The Telephone Preference Service and it’s email equivalents.

Also, these days business is all about establishing an ongoing relationship, and this kind of activity is unlikely to help this cause.

18 August 2009

Free eOffice offer for Business & IP Centre customers

Many thanks to eOffice for the following free offer for August:

We are very pleased to extend free of charge access to eOffice to 8 customers of the  Business &IP Centre per day in the month of August 2009.

We are offering free one day access (from 8.30am to 6.30pm weekdays), including hot desking (please bring your laptop), free wi-fi and one free coffee per day from 18th to 28th August.

The offer is valid to the first 8 visitors per day, if you are interested, please reply to and quote promo BIPC.

eOffice has created a new generation of workplace solutions. Your nearest eOffice, located on Sheraton Street, W1, in the heart of London, combines contemporary design and break-out areas with great technology infrastructure and WiFi connectivity.

We also offer a range of flexible services to meet the fast-changing needs of todays businesses:
- Hotdesking from £4.99 + VAT per hour
- Meeting rooms from £19.99 + VAT per hour per room and worldwide video conferencing
- Virtual office solutions (business address, mail forwarding and telephone answering) from £99.99 + VAT per month
- Full-time office solutions  with a minimum term of just one month.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Pier Paolo Mucelli / Founder

2 Sheraton Street (off Wardour Street), Soho, London, W1F 8BH – +44 870 888 88 88

eOffice – Winner BCO Innovation Award 2007 – BCO Regional Winner 2007- 2008
eOffice – Climate Neutral Business and Meeting Centres

My client connects with Knowledge Connect

I have just heard that Marion Ayonote (one of my recent Business & IP information clinic clients) has been highlighted as a case study on the LDA (London Development Agency) website.

Although Marion has already had success as a shoe designer, she wanted to expand her range to include vintage handbags with a contemporary twist. The main fabric is Aso-oke, a traditional fabric originally worn by the Yoruba’s, hand made by local weavers in Nigeria.

Marion Ayonote handbagMarion was born and educated in Nigeria attending the University of Maiduguri in Borno State, where she achieved a BA in History. She then moved to London and in 1997 attended Cordwainers College.

Her first collection simply titled “Shoes” under the “Marion Ayonote” label was launched in 2000. Since her launch she has been invited to exhibit at a number of international events i.e. Tranoi Paris, South Africa fashion week, Moda Calzaldo, and many more.

Knowledge Connect logoKnowledge Connect is designed to assist London’s diverse small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to undertake grant funded collaborative projects with the wider Knowledgebase.

This includes Universities, Further Education Colleges, RTOs and private sector specialists. London Development Agency (LDA) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding of £5.6 million is being channelled to fund this flagship project. Knowledge Connect is the Innovation Vouchers part of Solutions for Business portfolio.

The three year programme aims to work with 2,880 enterprises and provide a combination of inspirational workshops and events, stimulating communications, one to one mentoring, specialist identification and partner search.

It also offers grant support to enable SMEs to identify and create business growth opportunities.

There are two levels of grant support available:
* Mini grants up to £3,000 provided for activities such as initial testing, product or service development or proof of concept; and
* Maxi grants of up to £10,000 (which require 50% match funding) to support the delivery of a wide range of more in depth, collaborative projects.

17 August 2009

The invention of the seatbelt

I read in the free newspaper Metro on the 13 August that it was the 50th anniversary of the seatbelt. This was a reference to Nils Bohlin of Volvo.

The brief article stated "His work was deemed so vital to safety that no patent was sought". Actually, they did get a patent, but it's true that they did not enforce it. The American patent was published as Safety belt in 1962.

There is a claim that the concept of the "across the chest" vehicle seatbelt dates back to Roger Griswold and  Hugh De Haven for Griswold Company in 1951, with their Combination shoulder and lap safety belts.

De Haven’s contribution was the inertia reel, where the belt is tightened by a fast movement (as in a crash) but not by a slow movement. This is done by a centrifugal clutch, which engages if the reel spins quickly.  

The idea of seat belts had a hard time being accepted at first, as consumers thought that its introduction by manufacturers meant that the car was unsafe. It was not until 1964 that most manufacturers supplied them as standard fittings. In the UK, their installation became compulsory in the front seats in 1967.

10 August 2009

Powerbock boots

Every now and then I have seen youths using small, springy stilts to bound along the ground or to do somersaults. I wondered what they were called.

I found the answer in an article in the Sunday Times, although the online version omits the crucial explanation in a little explanatory box that the inventor was Alexander Bock.

I looked on Espacenet and found no relevant patents. I looked on Google and found that the inventor actually had the surname of Böck, not Bock. No luck again. Fortunately the site I had found linked to the American patent for his Device for helping a person to walk and I looked at the entry for that patent on Espacenet.

There, his name is spelt out as Boeck. Silly me -- I knew, but had forgotten, that if there is an umlaut in a German surname then Böck becomes Boeck in that database. Shows the problems that can occur when searching for names.

Here's the main drawing.

Powerbock patent 

They are called Powerbock boots, and sound like a great way to get injured if you don't secure them properly to your feet and don't wear padding. I'm surprised that the name hasn't been registered as a trade mark.

06 August 2009

Jim Shaikh and the self-heating baby feeding bottle

Over the years the British Library's Business & IP Centre has helped numerous inventors with their ideas.

I always like connecting a story about an inventor with the actual patent specification. Our web site has a story about Jim Shaikh and how he was, as so often inventions come about, provoked to invent his self-heating baby feeding bottle. I'm delighted we were able to help him.

I'm pretty sure I wasn't involved with helping Jim. Admittedly, over the years of working with countless inventors it all becomes a bit of a blur, and it can be frustrating not knowing if an inventor was successful years later. His invention was published as the Self-heating fluid connector and self-heating fluid container. As happens so often, his background in a relevant technology, fluid flow analysis, must have helped a lot.

Below is the main drawing.

Self heating baby bottle patent