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Freelance consultant, learning facilitator, and writer, founder of extreme-inventing.com, ooleee.net (with artist Gary King), knowledgecafe0151. Teach technology entrepreneurship at School of Engineering at University of Liverpool, UK. I have a longstanding and avid interest in Technology as a unique human phenomenon. I'm actively engaged in research on how enterprising individuals shape material culture through inventing and innovating, with palaeoanthropologists at the Dept. of Archaeology, Egyptology and Classics, also at University of Liverpool.


t-ball holderNeat eh? But where did the inspiration come from? Many of the examples of extreme inventing feature the capture of some property of a natural object. The sharpness or heaviness of a stone, for example. I suggest this otherwise great idea (from the lolbrary) is inspired by an existing product, probably familiar to many kitchen users. See a photo of one from my own kitchen. This is a good example of a great invention reached independently an act separated by time and place. But for the purposes of illustrating the difference between inventing and innovating and forming a new little business around the invention, let’s say the tennis ball ‘grabber’ came first. Using a split tennis ball as a means of grabbing an item, in this case a tea-towel, is an invention, but you couldn’t start a business around this, it would have to be modified and made more practical, but it could be done I’m sure.IFYou decide to give this task to a product designer and in your brief you say you want to retain the mouth and the face and the roundness but you want the designer to give you a much more practical means of fastening the ‘face’ to a wall or other flat surface, and ensure the final product was inexpensive to manufacture and maybe suitable for mass production. This process of adapting the original invention is to me a process of innovating. Whatever the designer came up with would be an innovation. I’d buy it, if the price was right. I’d even pay a bit more for the smiley face.

What property is being captured in both of the examples? Hint— I think the function is pinching.


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