Saturday, January 30, 2010

Patent Pending

Ideas float around constantly.  Most of these ideas fall by the wayside but some turn into something.  Recently I read an interesting article in the February 2010 issue of Inc., the magazine for growing companies.  The article was titled Saul’s House of Cool Ideas by Josh Dean.  I learned how Saul Griffith, a fellow thinker, turns his ideas into something.  This is his job and he is good at his job.  He is an inventrepreneur. 

I had no idea such a job existed.  Inventrepreneur.  It just sounds cool. 

Basically Griffith takes his ideas, however crazy they may seem, and creates a tangible product.  From the article I learned that he was the mastermind behind OptiOpia, a company that mass-produces cheap corrective lenses for the developing world, and Howtoons, educational science cartoons.  He started Makani Power which builds robotic kites that produce electricity.  This guy is amazing.  He’s so good at what he does that his company, Other Lab, has been asked to build Terminator 2.  I have never seen the Terminator movies.  I was interested to learn from the article that Terminator 2 is a kind of silver goo that looks like mercury and can turn itself into any form it comes across.  Other Lab is interested in working on it.  They think it would be great if our soldiers had a screwdriver that became a wrench that became an airplane. 

Over the course of my life I have had a few ideas.  I hesitate to even share these ideas since they are not patent pending.  Perhaps they should be.  If someone is serious about trying to figure out how to make Terminator 2, maybe I have something! 

  • Car magnets

Imagine driving along, minding your own business.  The car in front of you seems extra sluggish, panting up the hill on the freeway.  Or maybe it gets caught in some invisible time warp that prevents it from accelerating through a left turn with a notoriously short protected left turn arrow.  You push a button on your steering column.  Your car attaches itself to the car in front of you.  Thonk.  With your front bumper securely attached to the back bumper of the other car, you are able to gently guide the other car through the obstacle. 

Think that’s pretty incredible?  Picture this.  An aerial view of the freeway shows a car driving along in the center of, what appears to be, a hole in traffic.  There are no other vehicles within a 20 foot radius on any given side of the car.  How is that possible you ask.  The driver of the car has enabled the negative magnetism gage.  The magnet is quite literally keeping all other vehicles at a safe distance so all may drive in peace. 

Heavy traffic tracks would be the ultimate mind blowing future of driving.  Think of all those times you were caught in a parking lot of slow moving traffic.  To make matters worse, car blinkers are blinking like a bad case of Turrets Syndrome.  Some cars don’t even bother blinkering.  Optional feature of their car, supposedly.  Either way, cars are drifting across lanes only to slam on brakes, and begin the process of lane shopping again.  As you putter along mesmerized by the lane changing synchronized car dance, you have the thought that traffic would move forward if people would spend less time moving laterally.  And you’re right.  Which is why air traffic control, the guys who allegedly clocked you speeding even though the ticket shows the wrong color for your vehicle, not that I have experience in this!  Anyway, the air traffic control people flip a switch that turns on the heavy traffic tracks.  Like the tracks at amusement parks, these heavy traffic tracks keep all cars in their original lane on a track until the bottle neck of traffic is relieved. 

Car magnets could be the future of driving as we know it.  Inventrepreneurs could very easily make this a reality.  I would have to work on the logistics a little more.  Unfortunately, some may find my invention unethical because it takes away people’s choices.  But couldn’t it be argued that some people could use less choices?  Like mandatory parenting surveys where if you don’t pass you are automatically sterilized at no cost.  That could be my next invention!  Not a good parenting candidate?  No choice in accidentally reproducing.  Think of the money society could save!  I am of course kidding. 

Car magnets could still be an interesting invention.  It wouldn’t take away freedom of choice any more than a Prius does with it’s electronic stability control.  Or stopping when the driver has not paid any attention to the fact that they are about to ram into the car ahead of them.  It can also parallel park on its own.  A car is making these decisions for people already.  Magnets would just be another welcome safety measure.  

  • Telepatienting

Jobs are being outsourced all the time.  More and more employees have the option of telecommuting.  Why not pick your favorite endocrinologist and create a telepatient relationship online?  If Kaiser Permanente is going to pride themselves on paperless files for patients because they are moving patient care into the digital age, then let’s take it one step further.  It’s not just Kaiser Permanente making this switch from paper files to electronic digital files.  Most doctor’s offices are doing this now.  Telepatienting is not that far fetched an idea.

The majority of Americans do not visit the doctor unless they feel something is wrong.  Usually this realization is brought on by such stellar programs as The Doctors or Dr. Oz since we all know the information these programs provide is so accurate and reliable.   Americans also self diagnose using Web MD.  When this site gets to the point that it either can’t help anymore or it has frightened people into action, that’s when people choose to go see a real doctor.  Endocrinologists are slightly different from the average doctor.  They specialize in care of patients who need more monitoring than the once in a blue moon type of patient/doctor relationship most non hypochondriac Americans have.  I see one for my Type 1 diabetes. 

Endocrinologists can be as close as a 10 minute drive away or as far as a 4 hour drive away depending on where you live.  While it’s nice to not have to sit on crinkly paper with your half naked body being poorly shielded by a cloth or paper gown gaping open in the back, visiting an endocrinologist for monitoring purposes can feel very superfluous.  Especially when your endocrinologist has a way of making you feel like your best efforts will never be good enough and you must be stupid to not have your body under better control. 

Imagine visiting your endocrinologist via the Internet as you sit in your pajamas.  You upload all your blood sugars and other pertinent info to the server and he/she/it sends feedback.  Through Skype you and your doctor can talk face to face in real time if needs be.  The endocrinologist can upload forms for lab work which you can print out and get taken care of at your convenience.  The results can be emailed to you.  This should be the future of medicine. 

I really think I have something with these ideas.  As a resident of San Francisco, Saul Griffith is pretty local for me.  Maybe I should give him a call.  And when that doesn’t pan out I can always launch my other great idea. 

  • Reality TV game show for writers and poets

We seem to have a reality show for virtually every other obscure job, creative passion, or disability.  It’s only a matter of time before one of the major TV networks picks up my pitch. 

Contestants will be under the clock to produce an original essay, short story, or poem.  This will be determined by the episode.  There can be a panel of judges.  At least one blunt British judge, one bleeding heart female judge, and some other judge.  Contestants will be voted off.  America can even be involved with the voting off part.  Cash is on the line of course.  In the end there will be one clear winner.  America’s favorite writer!  Let the games begin.


  1. And you have been wondering why Gavin is obsessed with HIS invention? I do like the online doctor visits and you have my vote for America's favorite writer.

  2. Hi Tristin, you had me going there for a minute with the the automatic sterilization idea. I thought, "where is she going with this?" LOL

    I would think that your endocrinologist would have a better bedside manner. I guess that that would be asking too much. Your idea of taking some of the diagnostics online is a good one. I agree that we are heading in this direction.

    I'm an accountant for a patent law firm. We normally work with large companies, but have brokered sales for some individual inventors. Before working in this field, I had no idea how lucrative an idea could be. It really is amazing. Ray

  3. Hi Ray, thanks for your comment. That's awesome that you work for a patent law firm! Of course my ideas were jokes but the online patient care is something I would love to see before Thursday if possible! I see my endo that day. :(

    Actually, I should give credit where credit is due. My mom came up with the idea. She sees the doctor I used to see before I moved to CA. She used to work with him too. When he asks how I'm doing she tells him I really miss him. It would be so great if he could help me manage my diabetes online!


Now that I've shared my thoughts, what are your thoughts?