Category Archives: Patents

SpedDial

Speeding up my Brompton folding with SpedDial

Brompton from aboveI have been commuting to work on my Brompton for over three years now. Farewell Boris Bikes – hello to the Brompton folding-bike experience. I have written a few blog posts about my experience (15 learnings from a year of Brompton cycle commuting in London), and little ways I have tried to improve the bike (The safest thing on my bicycle is my Mirrycle).

This time I am experimenting with an improved Hinge Clamp Kit from SpedDial. I had already created something of a bodge solution using springs and plastic metal.

I came across the invention after recently joining the Brompton Hacks Group on Facebook. A post from SpedDial creator Stephan Bianchi piqued my interest. The link to his website included a video demonstrating a much improved version of the Brompton clamp.

SpēdDial Folds Fast from Stephan Bianchi on Vimeo.

The key is the dimpled handle which allows you spin it around really quickly.

SpedDial

I expressed my interest to Stephan and he explained he had sent a batch to Brilliant Bikes in Chobham. I rang them to order a set, but they hadn’t arrived. Soon after I received an email asking if I would like to test out SpedDial for them. I jumped at the chance, and a couple of days later received the little package below in the post.

Below is my amateur attempt at improving the clamp.

And here is the shiny new SpedDial replacement

So now for the big question… is it any good? And the answer is an emphatic yes. Actually it is brilliant.

It solves several problems:

  • It stops the metal bracket from twisting and blocking the fold
  • Using the finger dimple makes turning the knob much less fiddly
  • It saves time. I have set mine to just four turns from closed to open.
  • It prevents the bolt from falling out
  • The same lock nut gives you a predictable fold, so the handlebars no-longer fall on my leg.
trollybags

TrollyBag – the shopping bag of the future with a patent

Logo_packingsortedMy dad has always been something of an early adopter, keen to try out new ideas and inventions. He bought a Sharp EL-801 one of the first pocket calculators, a Sinclair ZX 80 computer, and VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet. So I shouldn’t have been surprised to find a shiny new set of Trolley Bags in his cupboard the other day.

A little research shows the colourful product was invented in Ireland by Paul Doyle in 2010 and is protected by a patent for A Re-usable Bag System.

With the imminent charge for plastic bags in England, the time is right for Trolley Bags to clean up. The Single Use Carrier Bags Charges (England) Order 2015 comes into force on 5 October. And the order requires sellers who employ more than 250 people to charge 5p for a “single use carrier bag” which is less than 70 microns (0.07mm) thick.

trollybags

Espacenet screenshot

trollybag patent drawing

The future of motorbikes is electric

Kawasaki kr1-sI normally leave the coverage of all things patent related in the capable hands of my colleague Steve van Dulken and his Patent Search Blog.

However, Steve is not the keen biker I am (nor the owner of the best motorbike ever created). So he is unlikely to have come across this story in the latest issue of Bike Magazine.

It is about a patent for an electric motorbike from Honda in Japan. And I have to admit I struggled to read all 19 pages of the patent application. But my understanding of the innovation, is the use of smaller electric motors located near the rear axle. This avoids the need for a traditional chain to provide motive power from the engine to the rear wheel.

The point of this story is that you can use patents as a form of market research. It is unlikely Honda would go to the trouble of protecting this idea if they weren’t planning to launch an electric motorbike in the near future.

You can read more at the Espacenet website. US Patent: US8028785  (B2) ― 2011-10-04 ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLE or European Patent: EP2168858  (B1) ― 2012-06-06

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Visit to the British Invention Show 2011

British_Invention_Show_logoAfter a couple of years absence I decided to re-visit the British Invention Show (BIS). For this year they had moved from the echoing halls of Ally Pally in north London, to the recently revamped Spitalfields market in east London.

For sixteen years Spitalfields  had been my regular lunchtime haunt, so I was curious to see how much it had changed since its rebuilding. The area now consists of a mixture of shiny new office buildings, trendy boutique stores and restaurants, as well as the traditional brick-a-brack and jewellery market stalls based in the old food market. The visit got off to an expensive start when allowed myself to be lured into a branch of Montezuma’s  chocolate shop and purchase a bar of Brighton’s best ethical chocolate ginger.

The British Invention Show exhibition space had been built underneath the market hall and was smaller than I was expecting. However, once inside the material ‘roof’ meant you forgot about the market outside and concentrated on the exhibiting stands.

As in previous years the number of British inventors was really quite small, compared to those from abroad, especially from Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. There were even a few from Iran.

However, as in the past there were still a few exhibitors who made the trip worthwhile for me.

An additional incentive for going along was an opportunity to meet Tara Roskell writes two excellent blogs – graphic design blog and Ideas Uploaded, about inventing and licensing. She interviewed me December last year, so it was nice to finally get to meet her in person. We teamed up to question the more interesting inventors at the show, and you can read her critical review of the exhibition (British Invention Show 2011 Hit or Miss).

MIBA_barcelona_logoFirst on the list was a set of intriguing ‘inventions’ from the Museum of Ideas & Inventions Barcelona (MIBA). These included:
–    A dining plate with a mirror in the middle (to help those on a diet)
–    Fluorescent dog biscuits (to help pedestrians avoid putting a foot wrong in the dog poo blighted streets of Barcelona)
–    A floor mop with a built in microphone (for those ‘X-factor’ moments while washing the floor)
–    A single bed with a ‘home and away’ score board (unknown dubious purpose)

Pep_Torres

It turned out that many of these wacky inventions were the brainchild of famous Spanish designer and promoter Pep Torres. They are not intended for production but to stimulate visitors to be creative themselves. Children who visit the museum are encouraged to draw their inventions, and each month the best ones are awarded a patent by the Spanish patent office.

Our guide to the MIBA stand – something of a miniature version of the museum located in central Barcelona, was passionate about this new venture. And explained each of the real and imaginary inventions with great enthusiasm (with the notable exception of the Single Bed which she seemed rather embarrassed about).

As Tara and I were leaving she offered us a red pill from a large glass bowl. I assumed this was the traditional exhibition freebie sweet, so was rather surprised when she stopped me swallowing, it and insisted I open it up to reveal a rolled up paper business card.

She responded to our puzzled expressions by referring to the famous scene in the Matrix film; After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Freedman_chairThe other highlight for me was meeting the enthusiastic inventor of the  FreedMan Chair – Simon Freedman.

He is an osteopath by profession and and has spent many years and even more prototypes developing his unique solution to lower back pain.

I have to admit it does look a bit weird, but having never regreted spending £800 on Scandinavia’s finest ergonomic seating in the shape of an RH Logic 400 over ten years ago, any chair that relieves back pain is worth investigating.

Simon explained that his seat does not need cushions because we all come equiped with inbuilt human cushioning

The concavity of the FreedMan seat pads provides support around the ischial tuberosities in such a way that the need for padding is reduced and even eliminated.

Located around the tuberosities are the ischial fat pads and further out are the buttock muscles. The concavity of the seat pads around the tuberosities supports these structures and hence the body provides its own cushioning. In chairs with flat seat pads, the pointy tuberosities push through the surrounding layers, which soon causes discomfort.

You can read much more technical information about the development of the FreedMan Chair on his website.

It was great to hear that Simon is a fan of the Business & IP Centre and has been a regular visitor as his chair developed.

I look forward to hearing much more about this exciting re-invention of the chair.

Baby Beamers another Success Story for the Business & IP Centre

Baby_Beamers_esther_smallBirgitte Lydum recently got in contact with some lovely comments about her experiences of using the Business & IP Centre.

I first went to British Library’s IP & Business Centre in 2009, when I realised that I needed help with pretty much everything to do with my business idea – a multi-configuration pram cover. I’d just moved past the point where I thought a good product idea was enough, and had realised that I was going to need to educate myself on many levels, before even hoping to succeed getting the product on the market.

So I signed up for seminars on the subjects of intellectual property, business plans, market research, marketing, business finance, a one-on-one with an invention specialist, a one-on-one with a successful entrepreneur, and three hours of free market research with a full report delivered to me – just to mention a few of the amazing services available. I also attended several brilliant networking events listening to and meeting various well known and inspirational entrepreneurs. Many of the people I’ve met at these events, fellow business owners I’m still in contact with today.

Baby_Beamers_logoI was blown away by the quality of the seminars, the staff’s helpfulness, and the amount of information available to me, all for free. I had no idea that there was so much to learn in this wonderful building, buzzing with ideas, creativity, enthusiasm and determination. A bit annoyed with myself for not discovering the place earlier I decided to go there whenever possible, to focus, to learn and to develop my business in the best possible way.

One day, when preparing my patent application in the quiet, clean and comfortable computer area of the centre, I was encouraged by a staff member to try a one-to-one with one of their Information Specialists, who in my case turned out to be Julie Simpkin. It’s without a doubt one of the best decisions I was to make for helping my business materialise. In just one hour Julie taught me so much more about what I wanted from my business than I’d ever be able to learn by myself, from a book or the internet.

For me, she had the effect of a really good business/life coach. We discussed my ideas for the product and the business, and gave me a lot of constructive and sincere encouragement. Julie was the one to suggest that I separated the company name (Baby Beamers) from the product name (SunSnoozer, instead of Baby Beamers Pram Cover), in case I wanted to add more products later. Good practical advice like all the other nuggets of brilliant advice I left with. She made me commit to my goals there and then by getting me to sign a to-do list for our next meeting, and I floated away from there, head and notebook crammed with new ideas, and a much better and clearer understanding of what it was that I wanted from my business.

Baby_Beamers_esther_and_birgitte

Baby Beamers

Baby Beamers Ltd was founded by Danish designer Birgitte Lydum, when she realised that a pram sun cover she had invented to protect her baby against the sun and make it easier for her to sleep, filled a gap in the market. After numerous prototypes, extensive market research and product testing the SunSnoozer is now available to buy. Other products to help make life easier for new parents are in development.

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Baby Beamers:

  • Encourages better sleep by eliminating bright light and visual distractions.
  • Allows constant view of baby, while still eliminating direct sun or wind.
  • 7 different configurations allow full protection no matter the wind/sun’s direction.
  • Easy access – no need to detach cover when lifting baby in and out of pram.
  • Can be left on the pram, saving valuable storage space. Machine washable.
  • Fits easily under rain covers, mosquito nets and any other pram accessories.
  • UPF 50+ (click HERE for test details, and further info on baby sun protection).
  • The ultimate no fuss, all-season, all-round pram accessory for new parents.

British Library and the Open Innovation Project – Working with others to make new ideas fly

My colleague Nigel Spencer reports on an exciting new project at the British Library:

Working with others to make new ideas fly is the strap-line for a European Union funded project to promote open innovation principles across the North West Europe region.  The British Library is a partner in this three year project along with partners from France, Germany, Belgium, Ireland and other parts of the UK.

OIlogo_text

openinnovationproject.co.uk

The concept of open innovation is simply that by being open to external input you are more likely to develop innovative and successful products or services. This is because it is unlikely that any single organisation will have all the skills, knowledge, experience and perspectives needed in-house. Open innovation covers a range of types of activity including crowd-sourcing, co-creation and includes activities with varying levels of openness and transparency.

Stefan Lindegaard from 15inno says that people should view  open innovation as ‘a philosophy or a mindset that they should embrace within their organization. This mindset should enable their organization to work with external input to the innovation process just as naturally as it does with internal input’.

Examples of organisations that have applied open innovation are:  ‘Orange, Procter & Gamble, Boots, Lego and Virgin Atlantic.

There are a number of perceived and genuine barriers and challenges which prevent businesses of all sizes from taking the leap to applying open innovation principles; Some of these challenges are:

  •  How to make the contacts needed with external organisations and people and develop long-term mutually beneficial relationships. This a particular concern if businesses are of differing sizes.
  • How to overcome the internal organisational cultures which may be uncomfortable with the kind of openness, transparency and perceived loss of direct control which are involved in applying these ideas.
  • How to protect ideas and creative outputs when these are being shared and an uncertainty as to how intellectual property fits into an open innovation environment.

On 29 November the British Library is hosting a half-day conference which looks at these challenges head on.  It is called ‘Open Innovation: The Challenges & Solutions’. We have brought together a great selection of experts and practitioners from organisations like 100% Open, Creative Barcode, Procter and Gamble and Quantum Innovation Centre to debate these issues.

More information and booking on the event, and you can follow the Open Innovation Project on Twitter at @OIProject

SquidLondon brighten up a rainy autumn day

emma-jayne_parkes_and_vivian_jaegerSomething of a surprise on my way home tonight to see a full-page advert for our Success Story SquidLondon in the Evening Standard.

Fashion graduates Emma-Jayne Parkes and Viviane Jaeger founded SquidLondon after being inspired by Jackson Pollock. They thought it would be cool to walk down the street, it starts to rain and your clothes turn into a walking Jackson Pollock.

Their first product, the Squidarella, is an umbrella that changes colour as it rains. Developing such an innovative product meant that intellectual property – protecting their ideas – was an essential topic to crack. The pair visited the Business & IP Centre to learn more about how intellectual property applied to them.

Squid have now moved to the bathroom with their latest product : ‘Miss Squidolette’ Shower Curtain!

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