Inventions I’ll Give To The World – #5

I hate to admit it but I’m a fan of glow-in-the-dark things. I used to imagine all the cool things I would invent with glow in the dark technology:

  • A guitar shirt that would show a classical player, but when in the dark, show a rockin guitar hero
  • Guitar strings that would glow in the dark
  • A guitar strap that glows “There’s A Lick For That”

Obviously I tend to focus on certain themes, but lately serious scientists have been focusing on glow-in-the-dark animals. Inspired by that, and always trying to be serious, I started thinking what I would like to invent related to our family animals.

I’m here to offer up a truly needed invention: This I give freely as a service to the Internet and will offer any assistance possible to bring it to market…I give you…

Glow-in-the-dark dog poo.

Lets face it: How many of us have wandered around the yard trying to pick up these little presents only to later step right in it while enjoying a campfire or evening activity.

I’ve heard that some algae is toxic to dogs, but the phosphorescent algae might not be…and even if the wet stuff is, I wonder if it could be combined into dog food so that when it ‘arrives’, it can glow as bright as the ocean is deep. Besides, I keep hearing about all this ‘good bacteria’ that is inside our bellies. We can inject the glow-in-the-dark DNA into dogs belly bacteria, and, after a hearty meal…POOF, glow-in-the-dark poo.

You can even keep all the profits…just gimme a lifetime supply.

You’re welcome.

How about it? Who wants to join me in the “Light up the Poo” kickstarter campaign?!?!

Corporate Creativity

I thrive on being creative. I love creating music and words, and I have been known to wonder out loud how awesome it would be to have a job where all I do is focus on being creative. I quickly point out how poor I could be, but I would be happy…I would be creative!

But if I were to be honest, I AM in a job where all I could do is focus on being creative. Am I creating my own music? No. But in a world that is built around reality and responsibility, I think I may have one of the more creative jobs around. While that may surprise you, it certainly surprises me! I desperately want to be creating, writing, educating and helping people, and many days go by that I lose focus and struggle through some very unrewarding periods of my work. I forget that my creative outlet is there if I just turn and focus and decide to push through the distractions that tend to paralyze me…

If I look back on 2013, what did I do? I created very popular user experiences, I wrote articles and traveled the world educating users how to get more out of what we delivered.

Also, I invented.

Inventing at IBM is one of my most creative moments at IBM. This year I was fortunate enough to have 11 patents issued in 2013.

I only mention this to encourage you to be creative in your work…to think of how you, too, can improve the world around you by being creative in whatever you do for a living. Whether we like it or not, our workplace is where we can have the most impact on others because it’s where we spend the most if our time.

If interested, here are my 11 issued patents in 2013 (You can read the details here):

Highlighting related user interface controls

Replicating changes between corresponding objects

Determining a score for a product based on a location of the product

Moving deployment of images between computers

Dynamically resolving fix groups for managing multiple releases of multiple products on multiple systems

Future system that can participate in systems management activities until an actual system is on-line

Management of actions based on priority levels and calendar entries

Content identification and retrieval based on device component proximity

Disc with embedded flash memory and disc drive (not a duplicate)

Disc with embedded flash memory and disc drive

Copying segments of virtual resource definition to create and deploy a virtual resource on a physical resource

How about you? How do you stay creative in your workplace?


7 Out Of 6,478 = Good Showing!

In 2012, IBM was granted 6,478 patents.

In 2012, I was personally granted 7 patents (totaling 42 US patents)

What a great company to offer such a great program. I can’t think of a better company perk for someone who HAS to create…like me.

You see, in most every development project there is the burst of ideas, quickly followed with “Wow, that is a great idea, but we don’t have time to implement that”. If that were the end, there would be a lot of frustrated creative people.

However, IBM offers a way for the creative to proceed to see just how far that idea can go. Most of these issued patents came from ideas to make our products better that just did not have the funding to get implemented at the time. But since the ideas were unique, and the details of how they could be built were complete, we filed a patent.

So satisfying to be able to use our creative muscles…thanks IBM!

Here are the 7 that were granted to me in 2012:

Moving data between views

Goal based user interface for managing business solutions in an on demand environment

Disk with embedded flash memory and disc drive

Verifying that group membership requirements are met by users

Implementing dynamic authority to perform tasks on a resource 

Dynamic and intelligent hover assistance

Movement-based dynamic filtering of search results in a graphical user interface

Inventing Ways To Help My Gamer Son Love Science

Four years ago, my son (then 11), was playing his PS/2. He was just invited to go to his friends house to game and he was frustrated.


He spent weeks customizing his ‘guy’, getting to certain levels, and unlocking certain weapons, and he couldn’t bring all of that over to his friends house without also copying the data file onto the memory card and risk over-writing the wrong file, or just losing the card, or having his friend wipe out the memory card on accident while they were playing at his house.

He wished there was a way to just have the game save custom data onto the CD media itself. However, as we all know, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs are read-only…

…so I had to invent a way for him to succeed.

Patent #8234667: Disk with Embedded Flash Memory and Disk Drive

As a result of his frustration, I was able to invent something useful: an optical disc with embedded flash memory so that a gamer could bring a disc anywhere and have his custom content read.

To fuel his, and my other kids, interest in science and the creative outlet inventing can bring, I added an incentive: Any frustration or ‘I wish’ they tell me that I could then use to fuel a patentable solution would receive a monetary award.

It’s a win-win situation. I get to solve real-world problems, and my kids get a glimpse at how cool and creative a technical job can be. Imagine if all kids lived with the assumption that they could participate in solving big and small problems alike, rather than just expecting others to solve problems for them?

How about you? How do you get students/kids to get excited about your technical passions?

Frustrated Inventor, and Loving It!

I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t get ticked off at technology…

…and I love it!

Well at least from my inventor perspective. Let me explain…

I know, we’re supposed to be spinning around this sun pursuing happiness and all things fuzzy, but when it comes to inventing, I love it when I, my kids, or a co-worker gets frustrated with technology, the way things work, the stupid designs we all come across that seem so un-obvious.

Why? Because every little thing that gets us frustrated might the beginnings of a beautiful, patentable idea.

Here’s what I do: When I get frustrated with technology, something clicks in my head to pay attention. And then, (and this is key), I notice WHY I’m frustrated, and then I write it down. I don’t solve the problem right then and there, but I’ve recorded a nugget of inspiration that can later turn into a patentable idea. And it doesn’t even have to be me that’s frustrated. I can point to at least a couple patents that started with my son saying “Dang, I HATE THIS! If only…”.

Maybe spend a day and try it. If not for the fun of inventing, maybe for the fun of discovering a new product or service you can make money at!

Here are two other things you could try to get ideas to surface:

1) Write down problems you needed to solve regarding a project you work on. Think back to meetings where you and your team wrestled with how to solve a technical issue. Then, recall all of the ideas that you crossed off as ‘too lofty’ or ‘too expensive’. Those may be nuggets for great patents.

2) Sit in a cafeteria/public place and listen for:

  • “You’d think they’d…”
  • “If only…”
  • “It would work so much better if…”
  • and my favorite: “They can put a man on the moon, but they can’t…”

These are not patents themselves, but they are nuggets of ideas that could turn into patents.

Finally, when you explore new consumer technology, think of how it could be applied to your area of expertise…some of my favorite patentable ideas have come from the strangest of locations (Hard Rock Cafe in Vegas) 🙂

Give it a go! Who knows, you may surprise someone when they say “Aw crap, don’t you hate it when…”, and instead of you feeling bad for them, you respond with a big ‘ol smile, pad and pencil in hand, and say, “Awesome! Tell me more…”

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