Something to think about….

Memorial day weekend is a time to reflect on the brave men and women that gave their lives in the service of our country. A time we should remember sacrifice and honor the gift of freedom we’ve been given.

But Memorial Day is also a milestone in our annual cycle of life, signaling that summer has arrived and it’s time to go out and enjoy the sunshine.

I for one will be headed to the beach to relax with family and fiends this Memorial Day weekend and do what most inventors do – Ponder.

Because relaxing isn’t exactly my strong suit, I thought I would arm myself with a few facts to think about while I drink a cold beer and hide from the sun under my colorful beach umbrella.

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Feel free to use these morsels of trivial thought yourself if you find the time to ponder this Memorial Day weekend.  

– If a piece of paper were folded 42 times, it would reach to the moon.

– The pyramids were as old to the Romans as the Romans are to us.

– If you dug a hole to the center of the Earth and dropped a book down, it would take 42 minutes to reach the bottom.

– There is 10 times more bacteria in your body than actual body cells and 90% of the cells that make us up of aren’t human but mostly fungi and bacteria.

– Every two minutes, we take more pictures than all of humanity in the 19th century.

– Turtles can breathe out of their butts.

– The dot over an “i” is called a “tittle.”

– There are more atoms in a glass of water than glasses of water in all the oceans on Earth.

– The probability of you drinking a glass of water that contains a molecule of water that also passed through a dinosaur is almost 100%.

– At the time the current oldest person on earth was born, there was a completely different set of human beings on the planet.

– And at the time you were born, you were briefly the youngest person in the entire world.

– There are more public libraries than McDonald’s in the U.S.

– For every human on Earth there are approximately 1.6 million ants.

– The total weight of all those ants is approximately the same as the total weight of all the humans on Earth.

– An octopus has three hearts.

– There are more stars in space than there are grains of sand on every beach on Earth.

– There’s enough water in Lake Superior to cover all of North and South America in one foot of water.

– A thousand seconds is about 16 minutes. A million seconds is about 11 days. A billion seconds is about 32 years. One trillion seconds is about 32,000 years. 

– Honey never spoils so you can eat 32,000-year-old honey.

Thanks again to those brave men and women who purchased our freedom with their lives. Their sacrifice, and the ongoing loss of their families will never be forgotten. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, be safe, and if you drink, drink responsibly.

Mark Reyland 

Inventor: Color me stupid

Most inventors don’t realize this, but color is one of the most important parts of any product design. Color is often overlooked, but few parts of a product or package have as great an impact on the final purchase as the colors you choose and the emotions they invoke.

The first tool available to us for selecting the proper colors is “The Color Wheel”. A color wheel displays three main color sets: Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary.  If you’ve ever used a color wheel you know the design of the wheel itself allows you to quickly see the shades of colors that work together and those that don’t. 04951-0000-front3ww-l

So what are the color sets, and how do they work?

The 3 Primary colors: Red, Blue, and Yellow. All other colors come from these three, in fact, they are sometimes referred to as foundation colors.

The 3 Secondary colors: Purple, Orange, and Green. The second level of color, these are derived as you may have guessed from the 3 primary colors listed above.

The 6 Tertiary colors: Yellow/Green, Blue/Green, Blue/Purple, Red/Purple, Orange/Red and last but not least Yellow/Orange. This set of six Tertiary colors are obviously created by combining a primary color with a secondary color.

Every color you may select for your product or package comes from the core of these three sets. But exactly how does a Color Wheel work?

Colors on the wheel opposite one another are “complimentary colors”. The further away you get directly across from a color (left or right) the less the color will match the color you have selected. Additionally it is worth noting that the wheel is divided into ½ sections – Moving to the right from Red/Purple to Yellow/Green is what designers call the ‘Warm” colors and from Yellow/Green moving to the right up to Red/Purple are the “Cool” colors. They are called this because the emotion they evoke in a person can be described as “warm” or “Cool” …at least that’s the theory.

What inventors really need to know about color is that it can evoke very strong emotions in a consumer. Since our goal is to create a product that evokes a positive emotion, and consequently a positive feeling about our product, we should understand how the colors we select can start that emotional chain reaction.

So let’s look at what the science community says are the emotions associated with colors:

Red: Sparks ideas of love, passion, heat and danger.

Yellow: Is a color synonymous with happiness

Orange: Retains the energy and welcoming of yellow, while keeping the heat and passion of red

Bright Blue: soothing, cool, and pleasant

Medium Blue: Coldness, feelings of loneliness and depression

Navy Blue: suggests formality, authority, and tradition

Green: Money, wealth, affluence but also nature and soothing.

Black: Commands respect. Simple bold with richness and honor.

Aqua: reminds of peace, calm and still.

As you can see there is a real psychology to the process of selecting colors. We as inventors have to keep this in mind as we develop our great new idea into that next big hit product. Of course you will never find a color that appeals to everyone, but you can stay away from some major color issues – that is, if you know the effects of color on your consumer – and now you do.

Here is a link to an online interactive color wheel that may help you the next time you need to select colors for a product or a package. http://www.sessions.edu/color-calculator

Mark Reyland

Our patent system is broken

I want to explain something about a patent.

If you have ever heard me speak you know I can get quite passionate about things. One such topic I get very passionate about is the historical framework of our (inventors) relationship with the society we serve.

Recently there has been a firestorm of criticism about new patent legislation working its way through congress. I don’t know how much that legislation will (or will not) really effect the millions of inventors out there working in basements and sheds across this great nation.

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What I do know is that our patent system is broken, and we will never repair it until we understand why it was created in the first place.

You see, there is a sacred covenant between inventors and society.  A covenant  designed to benefit both the group of inventors solving problems, and the greater society in which we live.

In short – if we as inventors solve the problems society needs to survive and prosper, society will in return, award us a temporary monopoly (a patent) on that solution so we have an opportunity to monetize it.

Sounds like a great relationship – but it has conditions – or at least it used to have conditions – and that is where the problem lies.

When the covenant was first created (around 1790) two basic requirements were in place to ensure society received the benefit of the solution we invented. First, the solution had to work. Second, the solution had to maintain a steady progression towards commerce where society would eventually come in contact with it.

Today, there is no requirement anywhere in the patent system for the invention to work (be reduced to practice) and while you used to run the risk of losing your patent if you could not show a steady march towards commerce, that is no longer true.

Unfortunately, through legislative actions, a watering down of definitions, and the USPTO failing in their duty to maintain the integrity of our founding fathers intentions – we now have a dysfunctional patent system susceptible to the manipulations of bad actors.

Simply put – Our current patent system awards patents for ideas, and an unproven idea helps no one, least of all society.

Yell all you like about legislation, but if you’re not willing to address the more fundamental issues of shoring up the founding fathers intent, then all the legislation in the world won’t fix our patent system.

Mark Reyland

Inventors: Just 100 bucks for my opinion

Inventors often spend a hundred dollars here, three hundred there, on what appears to be mostly worthless advice. We see people all the time claiming to “evaluate” your product idea – for a price.

But can they really, or are you just paying for their opinion?

The reality is, no matter who you pay and how much money they charge, it’s always just an opinion. I’m not saying that’s bad. After all, some opinions are well educated – but most are not. Most of the opinions inventors receive are inexperienced and sometimes simply wrong.

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[You of course don’t know that, so you soak it all in like a dry sponge in the hopes that it will serve as some form of validation. After all, you already know the answer you want so any contrary responses will be dismissed in a world wind of rationality anyway]

You see – in our industry there are really no barriers to entry. All you have to do is sit on your couch, tilt your head back, close your eyes, and imagine Thomas Edison in a Speedo and now you can proclaim yourself an inventor.

Next go to your local store, put a quarter in the coin operated horse ride at the front of the store, walk down three aisles humming the theme song for Gilligan’s Island, rub your head 6 times, and now you can proclaim yourself a professional inventor.

As a newly minted professional inventor your ready to go out and sell your opinion to another inventor who knows even less than you – now you’re a professional inventor consultant. 

My point is that real professionals have been in this business for many years, taken many products to the market, and had a huge number of failures. Still, the most uncomfortable question any of us are ever asked is “What do you think of my product?”  We hate that question – not because we don’t have a sense of what makes a good product, but because we know in the end it’s just our opinion.

The simple fact is, the reason most people want to charge you for their opinion is that it’s easy money. There is no wrong answer because you don’t know any better and they can tell you almost anything they like.  

So, the next time some expert humming the theme song to Gilligan’s Island wants to charge you for their evaluation ask yourself how educated that opinion really is and if having it helps you advance your invention. 

Mark Reyland

This is one trend inventors should know about

As inventors we have this tendency to become a bit myopic in how we see things. The truth is there are things going on around us we need to be aware of if we ever hope to transition our inventions into successful commercial products.

One such thing is a collection of books called the “Trend Books” 30SS-15-SHOES-FP

You have likely never heard of trend books – even know most items in your home and on your body started out in a trend book several years before you were able to purchase them.

Didn’t you ever wonder why all the items you see on store shelves seem to match? That’s because this handful of companies develop the pallet for products 2 years in advance, and product manufacturers use it to create the products you will eventually purchase.

This process to a manufacturer is called Trend Forecasting, and it happens with the help of a Trend Book. [here is a link to an example of a trend book for active wear in winter of 2016/17 http://www.nilit.com/fibers/pr-00108.asp ]

Trend forecasting began in earnest during the mid 20th century. Today, there are a handful of companies operating on an international level which provide color and trend forecasting services to the design industry. This ensures manufacturers are not producing conflicting collections of fabrics or materials. This is important for us as consumers because we like to follow trends, and important to the retailers because it makes for a more appealing display of merchandise.

Because trend books are created for everything from jewelry to furniture, bedding, fashion, and even kitchen wear, they are a great example of a tool an inventor can use to help create a better product. That is, if you know they exists, and you take the time to study them.

Do you own trend forecasting – find the trend book that effects your product idea and see what the market will be doing by the time you get on the shelf. It will help you better prepare, and in the end it will help you become a more effective inventor.

Mark Reyland

Hey – It’s National Inventor month!

You don’t have to be an inventor to know a single minute is carefully constructed of 60 seconds of time. The clock constructed of hours, a week made up of days, and of course a calendar of months.

As far back as we can remember months have been used to signify many things besides time such as Black History, Breast-Cancer Awareness, and even Menopause. These Important causes have used months as a way of remembering. A way of stopping time, if only for a moment to recognize something important.

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May is just one month – a small word with a big meaning. After all, the word itself means: something may be true, may have happened, or may possibly happen in the future. May, is a month of hope.

As the official month of Inventors, May has come to signify the hopes of both inventors and society alike. It is that synergistic relationship between inventors and those we serve that society is recognizing in bestowing on our industry the use of this special month.

For thousands of years there have been inventors and there have been the recipients of those inventors’s creativity. From fire and cavemen, to the wheels created by ancient Chinese – this relationship has been one of need, problem solving, and appreciation.

May – National Inventors Month – is a Thank You from society. Recognition that the ideas coming from the collective mind of inventors often make life better for millions of people we have never met.

A silent nod to the hundreds of thousands of inventors working away in labs, companies, garages, sheds, basements, and kitchen tables all across the country. Normal, everyday people trying to solve the world’s problems and leave this place just a little better than we found it.

This May, think about the role you play in this delicately balanced relationship. Think about the time you spend inventing and the people who will ultimately benefit from it. Strive to do it better by educating yourself on the processes of inventing and the commercialization that ultimately allows society to benefit from your hard work.

Celebrate National Inventors Month this May by doing a few things that help make the experience better.

  • Join a local inventor club.
  • Clarify your inventing goals by creating a timeline for your efforts
  • Encourage your family and friends to take action on their ideas.
  • Visit a local school and share your inventing journey with them.

As America points the spotlight at you this beautiful month of May, bask a little in the warm light of appreciation for your help in making the world a better place – then get back to work!

Mark Reyland

You have an ugly baby….

No place on the planet earth could we say this statement is often more accurate than in the world of an inventor – I see it every day.

I had a friend several years ago who held an event for inventors where they paid a hefty sum to come to an upscale hotel for a weekend and have experts give them advice on their products.

The following Monday I happen to be talking to my friend and asked her how the weekend had gone.  It was horrible, she said with a distinct note of despair. Horrible? I asked. Yes, it was absolutely the worst experience I’ve had in a long Ugly-baby_zps3dd333fftime.

What went wrong? I prodded a little deeper, smiling inside, suspecting I already knew the answer.

They were angry people who didn’t want to listen to the truth about their invention. she said with a hint of surprise in her voice.

Listening to her response – my inner smile exploded into full frontal nudity as I reflected back on the day I learned the secret of the Ugly Baby.

The lesson of the ugly baby is right of passage for anyone in our industry who works with inventors. Simply stated the lesson is this: The only thing an inventor hates worse than being told their baby is ugly, is paying to be told their baby is ugly. 

Like so many in this industry who hang out a shingle. My friend found out the hard way how inventors often react when confronted with this unthinkable news.

You see – none of us like to experience opposition to our opinions or our heartfelt beliefs. But in inventing the emotions that make those beliefs so heartfelt is a primal feeling of hope that bubbles up from well below the surface.

Hope after all, hope is one of the strongest feelings we as humans have. Hope can power us to both great heights and remarkable lows as we swing like a pendulum between hope and its opposite pole – Despair.

Much like real life babies – ugly product babies can grow up to be beautiful children. However. like their real life cousins, product babies have to be cared for and nurtured. Inventors must take the advice they’re given from people who have been down that path and apply that instruction to the regiment of care.

The result is the process of education. Learning lessons that, when applied correctly, help us transform an ugly baby into a beautiful product.

The simple fact is; if you’re new to product inventing chances are your baby is ugly. Don’t take it personally, it’s all just part of the process.

Mark Reyland

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