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This Inventor is the Original ‘Piano Man’

Innovation, Inventions, Inventor Stories

Bartolomeo_Cristofori_Google_Doodle

May is National Inventors Month! This month-long celebration promotes the inventors whose ideas have served as real contributions in the world.

When you think about inventors, names like George Washington Carver, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Alexander Graham Bell might come to mind.

But in today’s blog, in honor of this inventors 361st birthday, we’re paying tribute to Bartolomeo Cristofori, just like Google did last year with Cristofori’s very own Google doodle.

Does his name strike a chord with you? If it doesn’t, you’ll want to listen to his story!

Bartolomeo_Cristofori

Though Cristofori likely isn’t a household name or a name that immediately pops into your head when you think of famous inventors, you’d be surprised to know that his invention is much more popular than you think.

As an Italian musical instrument maker, Cristofori has been credited with the invention of the pianoforte, or as we now know it, the piano.

Yes, Cristofori invented the piano – you know, the instrument that plays some of the most beautiful music, has helped create some of the most famous music pieces and has aided some of the world’s best musicians? Yes, we’re talking about that piano!

Cristofori’s invention idea started when he created a hammer mechanism that struck the strings on a keyboard to make a sound. Depending on how hard or lightly the hammer struck the key, the sound would either be louder or softer.

The ability to change the volume of the tones was a major breakthrough for the music world.

Bartolomeo_Cristofori_Piano

Before Cristofori invented the piano, he worked as a harpsichord maker. If you’re unfamiliar with the harpsichord, the idea of changing the loudness of the tones is very foreign for this instrument. So, Cristofori set out find a better way to make music.

How did he do so? As we mentioned before, his invention was comprised of a hammer that struck the strings to make either soft or loud sounds, depending on the amount of pressure placed on the key by the musician. He removed the plucking mechanism that’s commonly found on a harpsichord and replaced it with a hammer – thus laying the foundation for the piano!

The origin of the piano dates back to around 1709 and about four of his pianos existed by 1711.

But, like most inventions, the first iteration isn’t the last. In fact, it took Cristofori 25 years to improve his piano to the piano that we’re most familiar with. The frames for his piano were made of wood in the style of a harpsichord. Though his invention wasn’t accepted by his home country of Italy, it was the Germans who marketed and made the instrument popular.

If it wasn’t for Cristofori’s idea and his ability to think outside of the harpsichord, we can’t help but wonder where would the likes of Frederic Chopin, Ludwig van Beethoven and Johann Sebastian Bach, to name a few, be?

You see, there’s no idea too small or large. Who knows, maybe one day your invention idea will change the world like Cristofori’s idea did!

Copyright Davison, 2016

Sources:

https://www.google.com/doodles/bartolomeo-cristoforis-360th-birthday

http://www.britannica.com/biography/Bartolomeo-Cristofori

Media:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/06/Bartolomeo_Cristofori.jpg

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f9/Cristofori1690OvalSpinet.jpg

http://www.google.com/doodles/bartolomeo-cristoforis-360th-birthday

 

Innovation in Action: Customer Obsession

Innovation

Customer Obsessive

For over 25 years, we’ve been helping innovative people get their products on store shelves. In fact, our products have sold in over 1,200 stores.

This feat wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for our customer obsession and by that we mean our clients – the inventors.

In a recent article published on the Huffington Post titled, Customer Obsession is the New Design, our customer-driven mindset was echoed.

Airbnb’s head of design, Alex Schleifer, started a critical conversation about why design-led companies simply don’t work.

The head of design at a lucrative company is saying that design-led companies aren’t any good? Though this claim may be a bit befuddling, at the core of this argument is a larger conversation, one that’s rooted in the customer.

In the article, Rich Nadworny, Principal at Empatico, design consulting, argues that companies need more people who are “Customer Obsessive” and to use design tools to invent new things, new processes and ultimately, new experiences.

“If you’re customer obsessive, you must know what matters to someone else. You feel the drive to solve their problem first as a way of solving yours. That’s where innovation that matters happens,” he said.

Nadworny made note of something that stuck out, the idea of feeling the need and the desire to solve the customer’s problem first as a way of solving yours.

The notion of solving problems is at the core of inventions; and, at Davison, we work diligently every day to help our clients find a Better Way to do something through their problem-solving inventions.

That’s why this article reminded us of the Davison Inventing Method, a process that’s solely focused on our clients and their ideas.

Our work at Davison wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the creative minds of our clients, the inventors, who take a chance on their inventions and work with us to possibly turn their dreams into reality.

So in the end, we think it’s perfectly fine to have a healthy obsession with being customer obsessive.

Copyright Davison, 2015

A typical project does not get a royalty agreement, sell in stores or generate a profit.

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rich-nadworny/customer-obsession-is-the_b_8332666.html?utm_source=LUMAtic+News&utm_campaign=6518391186-Newsworthy%3A+Innovation+in+Action%3A+Customer+Obsess&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_737f85ccab-6518391186-100672617&mc_cid=6518391186&mc_eid=b8fb06675e

Media:

http://blog.supermedia.com/media/customer-focus.jpg

 

Ford is Riding in Style with Latest Patent

Innovation, Innovative Inventions, Patents

 

Ford Patent

Photo credit: Ford via U.S. Patent Office

If you’re one of the many people that spend more time in their car than in their house, Ford’s latest patent could make your commute a little bit homier!

Recently, Ford patented a concept for an autonomous car that can reconfigure its seats so that passengers in the front can face those in the rear, much like living room seating.

The patent drawing showcases a myriad of seat styles that can be altered to a person’s liking. For instance, a bench can be folded so that it’s either facing the rear or the front of the vehicle or a person can tuck their front seats under the dashboard for a comfortable foot rest.

Furthermore, the seats are on a swivel and can fold while the vehicle is in motion. Even the steering wheel can be stored in the dashboard for more space and added comfort!

The ultimate goal of Ford’s self-driving vehicle is that passengers can sit back and relax while their car takes them to their desired destination.

The idea behind Ford’s latest patent is reminiscent of the seating in the Mercedes-Benz’s futuristic autonomous concept that was revealed early this year at the International CES.

Though this is an innovative concept, you shouldn’t expect to see this vehicle in the near future. In fact, fully-autonomous vehicles are still a ways away from use due to regulatory and technological obstacles.

In the meantime, check out this short video from Bloomberg Business to learn more about Ford’s latest patent:

Copyright Davison, 2015

Sources:

http://mashable.com/2015/08/20/ford-living-room-car/ http://www.autonews.com/article/20150820/OEM06/150829990/ford-patents-autonomous-vehicle-with-reconfigurable-seats

Media:

http://rack.1.mshcdn.com/media/ZgkyMDE1LzA4LzIwLzA5L1NjcmVlblNob3QyLjQwZGY5LnBuZwpwCXRodW1iCTEyMDB4OTYwMD4/44f1b643/b10/Screen-Shot-2015-08-20-at-5.38.59-PM.png

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hyx6EeU-WM8

The Lexus Hoverboard Proves Inventions Never Stop Evolving!

Innovation, Innovative Inventions

In our industry, it is widely known that inventions are always evolving. After all, inventors are constantly finding Better Ways to do things, right?

Recently, we saw another example of an invention that continues to evolve and we just couldn’t help but share it!

 

Lexus Hoverboard

The Lexus Hoverboard. Image: wired.com

Luxury vehicle maker Lexus has just released a working hoverboard. The skateboard-esque invention uses superconductors and magnets to pull riders away from gravity, allowing them to zoom through the air like Marty McFly! While the ride is not nearly as effortless as it appeared in Back to the Future, the Lexus Hoverboard has passed initial product testing, proving that, yes, we may actually be able to fly through the air Jetson-style!

Our interests in this story are not purely to satisfy our inner child; our friends over at Inventionland have worked on a couple products that work similarly to the hoverboard concept! Remember our client, John’s BikeBoard? This outdoor enthusiast came up with an idea that combined two of his favorite alternative sports, biking and skateboarding. Imagine if this product was innovated to have hovering capabilities!

Then, there was our client, Kurt’s Hover Creeper. This innovative product actually gave a lift to mechanics everywhere, so that they could hover over imperfect garage floors to easily complete auto repairs. At the time that the product was released, it was necessary to power its air compressor via a wall outlet. But, what if the Lexus Hoverboard technology was used to give the Hover Creeper an additional lift?

It is this kind of forward thinking that fosters new inventions every day, which is why we couldn’t help but get excited about the Lexus Hoverboard’s successful product test! If you haven’t seen the Lexus Hoverboard in action yet, check it out here:

And, the Lexus Hoverboard isn’t the only recent technology that’s pushing for faster individualized transportation. A Japanese engineer has innovated a battery-powered board that is no larger than a laptop! Check out this personalized transporter that has been deemed the WalkCar here:

Here’s to two exciting new inventions that continue to prove there’s always a Better Way!

Copyright Davison, 2015

Sources:

http://www.wired.com/2015/08/lexus-hoverboard/

http://time.com/3989603/japan-walkcar-transporter/

Media:

http://www.wired.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/lexus-hoverboard-ft-1024×575.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwSwZ2Y0Ops&feature=youtu.be

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvG_356itPs&feature=youtu.be

A typical project does not get a royalty agreement, sell in stores or generate a profit.

Out with the Old and in with the New Converse Shoes

Innovation

 

Chuck Taylor Converse

Chuck Taylor All Star

Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Star has withstood the test of time. Since its debut in 1917, the Chuck Taylor All Star has become one of the most iconic sneakers in history.

Recently, the 100-year old American shoe company, which is now owned by Nike, decided to switch things up and redesign these classic shoes.

As we always say, inventions are modified time and time again. For the case of the Chuck Taylor All Star, it took quite some time for this innovative shoe to be updated.

 

Converse- NY Times

Image: New York Times

Now, the Chuck Taylor All Star II has been designed and developed to provide a better way to meet the demands of the creative lifestyle of the next generation.

The rubber toe-cap, All Star ankle patch and the white rubber strip that connects the sole to the canvas upper have withstood the redesign. However, a sole liner has been added to cushion the wearer’s feet and to provide arch support.

The arch support is reinforced by Nike’s Lunarlon foam material.  Additionally, a strip of padding has been added to the collar of the shoe, as well as a non-slip finish to the shoe’s tongue.

A perforated artificial micro-suede upper liner has been incorporated to help prevent a person’s feet from getting too hot and sweaty.

So, what is exactly is the reasoning behind changing such an iconic shoe? According to Jim Calhoun, president and CEO of Converse, “The launch of Chuck II is a ground-breaking moment for Converse as we continue to move the brand forward through creativity and innovation, ushering in not just a new sneaker, but a completely new way of thinking.”

Here are some quick fun facts about Converse:

  • Converse began making its basketball shoes in 1917, in order to compete with ball manufacturer Spalding.
  • The Chuck Taylor All Star was named after a basketball player by the same name. Chuck Taylor helped to improve the design of the shoe.
  • Nike Bought Converse in 2003 in a deal that was worth an estimated $305 million at the time.

In the end, it’s out with the old and in with the new for these redesigned sneakers that are now on the market!

Copyright Davison, 2015

Sources:

http://www.dezeen.com/2015/07/27/converse-first-redesign-classic-chuck-taylor-all-star-ii-sneakers/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/25/fashion/converse-chuck-taylor-all-star-ii.html?_r=0

Media:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a8/A_classic_Black_pair_of_Converse_All_Stars_resting_on_the_Black_%26_White_Ed._Shoebox_(1998-2002).JPG

http://static01.nyt.com/images/2015/07/24/fashion/24OTR-B/24OTR-B-master675.jpg

 

Passing the Torch of Innovation

Innovation

Rio Olympics Logo

From August 5 – 21, 2016, the world’s best athletes will all meet in Rio to take part in the 2016 Olympic Games.

But, before this event can take place, the famous Olympic torch must be passed.

Next year’s torch has already been revealed by Sao Paulo studio, Chelles & Hayashi- a seemingly unknown studio that was selected from a nationwide competition that included 76 agencies to design the torch.

The ceremony will take place in Brasilia and the Olympic torch will be passed between 12,000 torchbearers, across 500 cities on its 100-day journey through Brazil.

During this time, when the torch is passed from person to person, which is known as “the kiss of the torches,” the sections towards the top of the baton will open up automatically.  But, that’s not the only notable design feature.

In fact, the 2016 torch is made of recycled aluminum and expands vertically when in contact with the flame, which then reveals a series of colored resin sections. The blue and green resin sections, as well as the yellow flame, are meant to represent the sea, mountains, sky and sun.

These colors are also found in the Brazilian flag.

 

Rio Olympic Torch

Rio 2016 Olympic Torch (Image: Dezeen.com)

The triangular shape of the torch is very similar to the one that was used during the games in London in 2012. The shape gives a nod to the three primary Olympic values- excellence, friendship and respect.

The Olympic torch relay is a tradition that dates back to the 1936 games that were held in Berlin. The flame is lit in Athens- where the games originated- it’s then flown to the host country before making its way around the designated route where it lights a cauldron during the opening ceremony, which then burns for the entirety of the games.

Copyright Davison, 2015

Sources:

http://www.dezeen.com/2015/07/07/rio-2016-olympic-torch-design-expanding-aluminium-resin-chelles-hayashi/

http://olympictalk.nbcsports.com/2015/07/03/rio-2016-olympic-torch-unveiled/

Media:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/d/df/2016_Summer_Olympics_logo.svg/812px-2016_Summer_Olympics_logo.svg.png

http://static.dezeen.com/uploads/2015/07/Rio-Olympic-Torch_dezeen_3.jpg

The T-rex Takes on 3D Printing

Innovation, Innovative Inventions

 

3D printed T-rex

3D-printed T-rex skull from 3Dprint.com

With all of the excitement surrounding the release of Jurrasic World, it only makes sense to tie dinosaurs in with the latest and greatest technology.

What we mean by this is the innovation of 3D printing is now being mixed with a new study of the intelligence of the 66.4 million-year old Tyrannosaurus rex (T-rex).

To this day, many people still wonder why dinosaurs became extinct and obviously the answer to that question isn’t an easy one.

That’s why a German research team wanted to take their pre-historic research to a new level and study the qualities, characteristics and habits of these beasts.

So, the research team started off with one question, “How smart was a Tyrannosaurus rex, anyway?”

In order to even try to answer that question, the team turned their efforts to an actual T-rex skull fossil, which they then scanned and 3D printed for a Better Way to learn about the T-rex’s intelligence.

The skull fossil was scanned using a machine called an XXL tomograph. This machine is the largest in the world and is located at Germany’s Fraunhofer-Institut. Thanks to its 1,500 separate exposures, the machine has created what is thought to be “the highest resolution scan ever conducted on a T-rex skull.”

Though the researchers have the skull, they do not have the T-rex brain. However, the inside of the skull’s shape reveals the highly-developed brain areas.

By studying these areas, researchers will be able to uncover information like whether the T-rex had poor eyesight, among other qualities.

Furthermore, the scan also helps in the efforts to restore the skull.

Thanks to the ability to conduct a complete scan of the skull, the research team has been able to uncover fractures and reconstruct the missing parts of the jaw.

The technology of 3D printing has enabled the team to customize replacement jaw parts in order to complete the skull.

As of right now, the jury is still out regarding the overall qualities and intelligence of the T-rex.

Copyright Davison, 2015

Sources:

http://3dprint.com/75016/t-rex-3d-print/

Media:

http://3dprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/t11.png

Kentucky Fried…Keyboard?

Innovation, Innovative Inventions

 

KFC Tray Typer

Image: The Verge

Perhaps you’ve been in a situation like this before, you’ve just sat down to a meal at KFC and as soon as you pick up your first piece of fried chicken, your phone lights up with a notification of some sort. At this point, your hands are covered in grease and you’re faced with the decision to keep eating or attempt to use your phone without getting too much grease on the screen.

Well, the fast food chain noticed this problem and, in turn, wanted to find a solution. So, KFC came up with Tray Typers, which were Bluetooth keyboards that were installed into food trays. The trays would sync with the customers’ smartphones and tablets, so KFC lovers could enjoy their meal without missing a text.

This advertising campaign only lasted a week in its locations in Germany; and, during that week, each order came with the tray for those patrons who decided to dine-in.

The paper-thin, wireless Tray Typer was resistant to liquids and grease, so if a person accidentally spilled their soda or dropped a piece of chicken on their tray, it didn’t pose any problems. In fact, the keyboards were disposable and could be reused and recharged via USB.

As intriguing as the Tray Typers were, we won’t be seeing them in the United States.

Sadly enough, KFC lovers in America will just have to find a Better Way to eat KFC and use their smartphone on their own! But, as The Verge described it, this invention was “finger clickin’ good!”

Copyright Davison, 2015

Sources:

http://mashable.com/2015/05/20/kfc-tray-typer-bluetooth-keyboard/

http://www.theverge.com/2015/5/19/8624295/kfc-tray-typer-wireless-bluetooth-keyboard

Media:

https://cdn3.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/quckpYH7wY9MZoHkeMgwrrZUfm8=/1020×0/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/3709142/KFC_TRAYTYPER_1.0.jpg

 

Get InspiRED by this Paperbridge

Innovation, Innovative Inventions

 

Image from Mashable

Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. Since it’s National Inventors Month, which is a month-long celebration of invention and creativity, we wanted to celebrate by finding some out-of-the-box innovation- and that’s exactly what we did!

What do you get when you mix 20,000 sheets of bright red paper with innovation? The answer, you might ask, is a weight-bearing bridge.

Sure, paper has been and is still used to hold inventors’ ideas, from random thoughts to sketches of their dream inventions. But, a British artist by the name of Steve Messam took this idea to a whole new level when he used 20,000 bright red sheets of paper to invent a bridge across a stream in the United Kingdom’s Lake District.

The Paperbridge project was commissioned by the Lakes Culture tourism organization and is a weight-bearing arch that’s weighted on either side with steel gabions that are filled with local stone.

The eye-catching red bridge was made from a series of “blocks.” These “blocks” were made of two reams of paper, which translates to 1,000 sheets.

In order to get the arch look, arched plywood form was used and placed between the two supports. By doing so, this allowed the blocks to be stacked in position over the water. Between each block were 1.5 degree wedges and the final wedge was hammered into the apex to create the right compression before the wood frame was removed.

You might be shocked to know that the Paperbridge was held together only by compression – not glue!

Just like any invention, there are some roadblocks and for the Paperbridge, this was ensuring that it could withstand weather, curious people and wandering animals.

In fact, the Paperbridge could withstand its own weight- or the equivalent of 60 sheep.

Why the peculiar color? Messam chose the intense red color to highlight and bring out the green of the surrounding hills to make them look even greener.

So how do these 20,000 papers stack up environmentally? Messam was careful to ensure that the total footprint was close to zero. Once the project’s 10-day lifespan ended on May 18, the paper was then taken to a recycling facility.

Are you inspiRED by the Paperbridge?

Copyright Davison, 2015

Sources:

http://www.dezeen.com/2015/05/17/steve-messam-red-paperbridge-20000-sheets-paper-bridge-lake-district-uk/

http://www.designboom.com/art/steve-messam-paper-bridge-cumbria-uk-05-13-2015/

Images:

http://rack.1.mshcdn.com/media/ZgkyMDE1LzA1LzExL2M2L0RTQzU2NzkuNWIwZWQuanBnCnAJdGh1bWIJOTUweDUzNCMKZQlqcGc/7b0a7a1b/3d7/DSC5679.jpg

Adidas is Kicking up their Innovation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Innovation, Innovative Inventions, Inventions

The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off today in Brazil and the next few weeks will be filled with heart-pounding games that are played by some of the world’s best soccer players.

Although all of the players are integral pieces of the puzzle towards the quest for the coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy, none of these games could be played without the most important piece, the actual soccer ball.

To begin, a standard soccer ball is a sphere that is made of 32 smooth panels, 12 black pentagons and 20 white hexagons. However, this conventional soccer ball design is a thing of the past.

Over the years, Adidas has designed the soccer balls that are used in the World Cup. During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Adidas designed the Jabulani ball, which was intended to be aerodynamic in comparison to other soccer balls. However, the players in the tournament begged to differ, saying that the ball was actually “terrible” and that it changed directions mid-flight.

So, for this year’s World Cup, Adidas tweaked their soccer ball invention and created the Brazuca, the official ball of the 2014 World Cup. This soccer ball consists of six textured panels that are shaped like stylized Xs.

In order to perfect this invention, Sungchan Hong and Takeshi Asai, a pair of researchers from the Institute of Health and Sports Science at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, analyzed the aerodynamic properties of the Brazuca ball. Through their research, they put five soccer balls through a series of tests in order to observe their performance.

Their analysis compared the results of wind tunnel tests with actual trajectories through the air. The wind tunnel test results revealed that the Brazuca was the front-runner when it came to the stability of the drag forces, otherwise known as air resistance acting on the ball.

Another set of tests were conducted and each soccer ball was struck 40 times (20 times in each of two orientations) by an “impact-type kick robot” that carried the ball to a goal net 25 meters away. In this test, the Brazuca and a conventional ball were most likely to wind up in the same part of the net after each kick.

Through this battery of tests, the Brazuca soccer ball came out on top.

As previously mentioned, the invention design of the Brazuca includes six panels which distribute the seams differently, creating a smooth flight path. However, the key innovation on this soccer ball is the intentional roughing of the ball’s surface.  On the surface, the Brazuca is covered with small polyurethane nubs that imitate the effect that stitches create on a traditional 32-panel ball. These nubs are used to even out turbulence and cut down on what some experts refer to as knuckleballing.

Through all of these design innovations and with the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicking off today, we are anxious to see if the Brazuca soccer ball will score with the players!

Copyright Davison 2014

Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/why-this-years-world-cup-soccer-ball-may-fly-more-predictably-than-the-2010-dud/2014/06/09/37468bee-ea6f-11e3-93d2-edd4be1f5d9e_story.html

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-world-cup-soccer-ball-brazuca-20140603-story.html

Media:

http://c.fastcompany.net/multisite_files/fastcompany/imagecache/inline-large/inline/2013/12/3022879-inline-s-6-2013-fifa-world-cup-brasil-ball.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_FIFA_World_Cup#mediaviewer/File:WC-2014-Brasil.svg

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