Take a Different Approach

What different approach can you take to solve your problem?

Throughout the 1800s, most inventors who tried to design a machine that would make sewing more efficient failed because they were
modeling their machines after the motions of hand sewing: pushing a needle and thread through fabric. Elias Howe took a different tack: he put an eye in the sharp end of a needle and used two threads working together instead of just one. In 1846 he patented his lockstitch sewing machine. This first machine was hand-operated, but it formed the basis for the modern sewing machine.

Content courtesy of the Ah Ha! Discovery Deck, developed by John Cronin at the ipCapital Group to help inventors solve real-world problems.

Keep Improving Old Inventions

What can you improve or “re-invent” for an updated world?

People have been using locks for more than 4000 years. The oldest key-operated locks were found in ancient Egypt. Throughout the ages, locksmiths had to always be inventing new locks to outwit thieves who had figured out their old locks.

In 1861, an American inventor named Linus Yale, Jr. patented a pin-tumbler cylinder lock. The design combined features of several locks – including the Egyptian design. Because the new idea built upon of centuries of ingenuity, Yale’s lock outsmarted almost all thieves, and continues to do so today.

Content courtesy of the Ah Ha! Discovery Deck, developed by John Cronin at the ipCapital Group to help inventors solve real-world problems.

Keep Working Until You Find A Solution

Do you keep working if your first ideas fail?

In 1948, graduate students Bernard Silver and Norman Joseph Woodland joined forces to develop a method for automatically reading product information in a store. Their first idea was to print information using ink sensitive to ultraviolet light, but the system was too unstable and would be too expensive to sell.

They returned to the drawing board and in 1949 filed their patent application for bar codes. In 1974, the first commercial bar code reader was installed at a supermarket in Troy, Ohio. The first coded product was Wrigley’s® gum.

Content courtesy of the Ah Ha! Discovery Deck, developed by John Cronin at the ipCapital Group to help inventors solve real-world problems.

 

Respond Creatively to Criticism

How can you turn criticism into a solution to your problem?

In 1853, a Native American chef named George Crum was cooking at a restaurant in Saratoga Springs, New York. One day, an irate customer complained that Crum’s French-fried potatoes were too thick and mushy.

Upset, Crum cut a potato into paper-thin slices, soaked them in ice water, and then fried them in oil until they were golden brown. As a final touch, he heavily salted the crisp potatoes. The customer took one bite and then ate the whole pile! Soon, people all over town wanted Crum’s “Saratoga Chips.” The rest is potato chip history.

Content courtesy of the Ah Ha! Discovery Deck, developed by John Cronin at the ipCapital Group to help inventors solve real-world problems.

 

Not Everything Comes in a Box

Is there something that you need that you could make?

Fifteen-year-old Chester Greenwood’s ears hurt when the Maine winter temperatures dipped below freezing. That all changed on a cold day in 1873 when Chester twisted some wires into small hoops and had his grandmother sew on some thick cloth.

He put these ”muffs” on over his ears and when he went back outside to play, he discovered that his ears stayed warm! To improve his muffs, he added a spring to keep them tight on his head. When he was 18, Chester received a patent for his invention, opened a factory, and sold millions of his earmuffs.

Content courtesy of the Ah Ha! Discovery Deck, developed by John Cronin at the ipCapital Group to help inventors solve real-world problems.

Be an Invention Hero

How can your ideas make the world safer?

 

In 1912, Garrett A. Morgan, an African-American soldier, invented a ”safety hood and smoke protector” to protect soldiers fighting in World War I from chlorine gas fumes. He received a patent for this device in 1914.

Two years later, 32 workers were trapped inside a tunnel being constructed under Lake Erie after a gas explosion. Morgan and a team of volunteers donned the new gas masks and rescued many of the men. Morgan was awarded a medal of honor from the city of Cleveland and gas masks were soon in fire departments all over the nation.

Content courtesy of the Ah Ha! Discovery Deck, developed by John Cronin at the ipCapital Group to help inventors solve real-world problems.

Work Together for the Common Benefit

Who could help you with your invention?

                                  In 1853, Levi Strauss was running a dry goods company in San Francisco. One of his customers, Jacob Davis, a tailor in Nevada, wrote to Strauss to tell him that he had designed work pants using Strauss’s blue canvas fabric and that the riveted pockets made the pants “nearly indestructible.”

These tough pants were selling quickly to miners and ranchers who were in dire need of more durable clothing. Davis and Strauss patented the idea together, went into partnership in 1873, and soon after began manufacturing their riveted blue jeans.

Content courtesy of the Ah Ha! Discovery Deck, developed by John Cronin at the ipCapital Group to help inventors solve real-world problems.

Invent By Refining Old Ideas

Can you take an old idea further to create a new invention?

To relieve pain, doctors in ancient Greece often prescribed a tea made from the leaves and bark of willow trees. In 1828, French scientist Henri Leroux isolated salicin, the ingredient in willow that relieved the pain.

In 1853, Charles Gerhardt, working with Leroux’s early studies, developed a new salicin compound that reduced existing side effects. In 1890, a German Scientist, Felix Hofmann, an employee of the Bayer Company, isolated the pain reliever in salicin and it was marketed as Aspirin.

Content courtesy of the Ah Ha! Discovery Deck, developed by John Cronin at the ipCapital Group to help inventors solve real-world problems.

Make Your Life Easier

What new ideas would make unpleasant chores easier?

Marion Donovan was tired of washing, bleaching, and air-drying cloth diapers. In 1946, she cut up her shower curtain into plastic envelopes into which she slipped absorbent material.

To secure the new disposable diaper on her children, she used snap closures rather than safety pins. She called her invention the “Boater” and set out to try to sell or license them.

When no manufacturers bought the idea, Donovan demonstrated them at New York department stores, which agreed to stock them. The first disposable diapers were an immediate success.

Content courtesy of the Ah Ha! Discovery Deck, developed by John Cronin at the ipCapital Group to help inventors solve real-world problems.

Combine Your Interests

How can you combine your interests in new ways?

 

Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr. wanted to combine his two interests: cars and movies. It was the early 1930s, and his vision was of an outdoor movie theatre where patrons could watch from the comfort of their cars.

He experimented in his own New Jersey driveway by mounting a 1928 Kodak projector to his car and projecting it onto a screen nailed to trees. He placed a radio behind the screen for sound. After experimenting with everything from sound systems to car spacing, he received the first patent for the drive-in theatre in May 1933.

Content courtesy of the Ah Ha! Discovery Deck, developed by John Cronin at the ipCapital Group to help inventors solve real-world problems.