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Tap Your Way to a New Floor Plan with this Invention

Innovation, Innovative Inventions, Inventions

Now that the weather is starting to break, this is usually the time when homeowners break out their hard hats to do some home improvement projects on their own.

The first step in the home improvement process might be the hardest and that is deciding exactly what you want/need to do to the room you are renovating. Rather than call in a group of contractors, there is a new invention on the market that can alleviate some of the steps in the re-design process.

This invention is the RoomScan, which is an app for your smart phone. The innovative idea comes in handy when overcoming common obstacles like measuring those awkwardly shaped rooms that make it hard to get accurate measurements. Not to mention working around all of the obstacles in the room like furniture, fixtures etc. make this an even more taxing task.

The app is fairly easy to navigate and is user friendly. In order to use the app, the user will walk around the room and hold their device on the wall for a few seconds until they hear a beep. Once they’ve heard the beep, the user will continue to the next wall and repeat the process. After this step is done to all of the walls in the room, RoomScan will put together a shockingly accurate map of the area.

The RoomScan utilizes the GPS, Wi-Fi and gyroscope features that are built in to your smartphone to figure out the distances and the orientation of walls. Realistically, the RoomScan can estimate measurements within about a half of a foot. However, if you need more precise measurements, a user can purchase the Pro version for $5 in the App Store. Through this upgrade, the user has the option to scan multiple rooms that are then stitched together in order to create one large, unified map of the area that was scanned.

Here is an inside look at the RoomScan Pro in action!

Copyright Davison 2014



Students Pack Inventionland for 2014 WQED Invention Convention!

Davison News

What does it look like when a couple hundred middle school students take over our creative work space for a day full of inventing fun?

We found out exactly what that looked like last Friday, April 4th, when Inventionland hosted the 2014 WQED Design Lives Here Invention Convention!

Students in grade sixth through eighth from Franklin Regional Middle School, Seneca Valley School District’s Haine Middle School and Bethel Park School District’s Independence Middle School unleashed their creative sides during the day-long inventing extravaganza.

As usual, this year’s Invention Convention helped to support STEM education, or the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The day included a few inventing challenges, but highlighted one in particular, where students teamed up to pitch new invention ideas to our very own team of Inventionland Creationeers.

Here’s just a peek at this year’s WQED Invention Convention:

Copyright Davison 2014


Play Ball! Welcome Back Major League Baseball


The traditional opening day for the 2014-15 major league baseball season is right around the corner on Monday, March 31st!

Finally, America’s favorite past-time is back in action and baseball fans everywhere can see the light at the end of the tunnel that is filled with warm summer nights, family fun, fresh-cracked peanuts, favorite MLB teams and well-manicured outfields.

Speaking of well-manicured outfields, how do those perfect and sometimes awe-inspiring designs get etched into the outfield grass anyways?

It all starts with an idea. Much like the Davison invention method starts with an inventor’s invention idea, so too do the groundskeepers’ outfield designs.

For groundskeepers, the grass in the outfield is their canvas and their imagination is the paint, or in this case, the lawn tools that make their ideas come to fruition.

Checkerboard, diamond and argyle patterns are the traditional designs in the field. But, in recent years, these designs have become more elaborate.

For instance, after the tragic events of the Boston Marathon bombing, groundskeepers at Fenway Park honored victims with an outfield design that incorporated the Boston “B” and the word “strong.”

In order to create the designs that you see in the outfield, the groundskeepers use a combination of lawn striping and grass bending. Many professional groundskeepers use old-fashioned reel movers in order to cut a stadium’s grass. Additionally, just behind the blades of the mower, is an attached lawn roller that is used to bend the grass down. The pattern that is created is revealed by light shining off of the bent grass.

The idea behind the grass bends is that, for example, when you look at your own lawn, the blades of grass that are leaning away from you will look lighter. This is caused by the sunlight reflecting off the entire blade of grass. While on the other hand, the darker green stripes are formed by the blades of grass leaning toward you with the sunlight reflecting only off the tips of the blades.

The more traditional checkerboard pattern is created by passing over the grass in side-by-side rows. The first row is going north-to-south, followed by east-to-west stripes in the grass that intersect the north-to-south stripes.

Field patterns and designs add an extra element of allure when visiting a major league ballpark. The key to success is that the design is eye-catching, yet it won’t affect the playability of the surface.

Want to see an inside look into the mind of an MLB groundskeeper? Take a look at this video!

After this long, cold winter, we can’t wait for the first pitch of the traditional opening day of the MLB season to be thrown on Monday, March 31st!

Copyright Davison 2014



A Clearer Look at the History of the Contact Lens

Innovation, Innovative Inventions, Inventions

It may seem like a fairly new idea. But, the invention of the contact lens spans back much farther than you would think. In fact, contact lenses have been helping people see more clearly since the inception of this invention in 1887.

As you all may know, the contact lens is an artificial lens that is worn on the surface of the eye in order to correct refractive defects of vision.

The invention of contact lenses came to be in 1887 when Adolf Fick developed the first pair, which were made of glass, to correct irregular astigmatism.

The early invention of the lenses was, as you could have guessed, uncomfortable and could not be worn for extended periods of time.

The earliest form of the contact lens invention was made by taking an impression of the eye and fashioning a lens on a mold. This practice was done before the development of optical instruments that could measure the curvature of the cornea, which is the transparent surface of the eye that covers the iris and the pupil.

Then, in 1889, a German glassblower by the name of F.A. Muller had an idea for the invention and found a better way to make a glass lens thinner and lighter.

In the mid-1900s, plastic-based contact lenses were introduced into the mix and were designed so that the lenses were more wearable. However, the lens continued to sit flat on the cornea that made it uncomfortable and did not provide the best vision correction.

Inventions go through countless changes in order to iron out the kinks and, in 1948, California optician Kevin Tuohy began making contact lenses entirely out of plastic. These new, fully-plastic lenses were bigger than the cornea, yet smaller than the previous pair of lenses, which was a step in the right direction.

By the 1950s and 1960s, the invention got another boost when the lens was shaped more like the cornea and they became smaller and thinner. And, for the first time ever, the lenses could be worn all day, albeit, still they were an uncomfortable fit.

The new, soft lens became commercially available by 1971 in the United States and during the 1980s, the color-tinted contact lens was introduced as along with the disposable lens and the extended-wear lens.

What once started out as a glass lens that covered the entire eyeball turned into an invention that went through a myriad of changes. Since the invention idea hit the ground running, contact lenses have continued to help people correct refractive defects of vision. In fact, more than 100 million people around the world are getting a clearer look at life because of this invention.

Copyright Davison 2014



Olympic Innovation

Innovation, Innovative Inventions

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are right around the corner and with the Winter Games almost underway, we wanted to take a look at the new, innovative inventions and technologies that will be infused into the games.

We are in a completely mobile world. Even though we aren’t physically in Sochi to watch the Olympics, through the use of our current technology, we are able to connect with those who are there to get updates on the games.

This year, Samsung released its Sochi 2014 Olympics Winter Games WOW app (Wireless Olympics Works) for Android Samsung devices. The idea behind this new app is to help you stay connected and track the 2014 Winter Olympics.

When you initially open the application, you will have the option to choose your favorite country, athlete and sport. There are 15 sports that are available for tracking, which include alpine skiing, bobsleigh, biathlon, cross-country, figure skating, curling, freestyle skating, ice hockey, luge, Nordic combined, short track, skeleton, ski jumping, snowboarding and speed skating.

Once you’ve chosen your favorite sport, the app will bring you to a home screen that will show you how many medals your country has accumulated, in addition to event schedules and more. There is also a community section that will allow the user to discuss the events with others using the app.

The invention of this app will allow people to track specific events and to learn more about the events they might not have been familiar with before.

Now, environmentally-friendly innovations and inventions are being put into play at this year’s Winter Games. For instance, the games will use energy-efficient LED spotlights that are key features to the “green” construction of the lighting technologies at the venues. The LED spotlights use only one tenth of the electricity used by filament lamps and half as much as luminescent lamps that last up to 50,000 hours.

The application of the LED lights was encouraged by international “green” standards as a progressive technology that illustrates a responsible attitude toward energy-saving and protecting the environment.

Furthermore, the city of Sochi, which is the home of this year’s Winter Games, has found success in the implementation of renewable energy sources, such as solar power. The idea of infusing solar technology has been applied to the new railway station in Adler, Russia, where solar-powered radiators and boilers, including water-based heating systems, were installed to service buildings. The solar power is part of the “green” alternative previously mentioned, because it will replace the traditional sources of energy that will enable annual savings of up to 30% on heating costs.

And, who can forget the Olympic gear? The Olympians already wear the most innovative uniforms; but, this year, the U.S. speed skating team will wear specifically-designed racing suits that were invented by Under Armour and prominent defense contractor Lockheed Martin. The idea behind the suits is that they will reduce friction and cut wind resistance by utilizing raised dots and pin striping, making them the fastest suits ever made.

Or, how about the U.S. bobsled team that is now utilizing the innovation of car maker BMW to improve their sled aerodynamics, making it lighter, tougher, more maneuverable and, ultimately, faster.

It’s easy to say that whether it’s a new mobile app, environmentally-friendly venue designs or creative Olympic uniforms and equipment, innovation continues to forge ahead with new technologies and inventions as the 2014 Winter Games get underway.

Copyright Davison 2014



Join in on the Fun of National Kid Inventors’ Day


Let it be known that inventors are not always adults. In fact, things such as ear muffs, trampolines, popsicles and water skis are just a few inventions that were created by kids!

January 17 is National Kid Inventors’ Day and we wanted to talk about how this day came to be and why encouraging kids to use their imaginations and creativity towards inventing is a great idea!

The basis of this holiday is to acknowledge the past and present accomplishments of kid inventors and, additionally, to encourage the creativity of future kid inventors.

So, what exactly is the significance of January 17? Well, this was the birthday of famous inventor Benjamin Franklin, who was born in 1706. While Franklin is best known for his inventions, like the bifocal glasses among various others, at the age of 12, he also invented the first swim flippers!

Although tomorrow is the national celebration of kid inventors, on November 8, 2013, we had a kid inventors’ day of sorts at our creative-design facility, Invention land, when we hosted an event that was sponsored by WQED’s Design Lives Here. At the event, middle school students from across the Pittsburgh region participated in four different inventing activities, such as the Speedy Shelter, Zip Line, Paddle Power and Invention Challenge. Through their participation in the 2013 Invention Convention, the students were given a chance to exercise their creativity and ingenuity through S.T.E.M (science, technology, engineering and math).

Despite the fact that every day is a great day to inspire your kids to be creative and exercise their imaginations, tomorrow, in particular, is the perfect time to give them a boost.

Here are a few tips and ideas to motivate your kids to think outside of the box and use their imaginations!

  • Sit down with your kids, give them a blank piece of paper and let them brainstorm and dream up their ideas for inventions. Ask them questions about their inventions to spur their creativity.
  • Help your kids make a prototype of the invention. Now, this doesn’t have to be the most extensive prototype. Rather, gather objects from around the house and work with your child to turn an idea from their imagination into a tangible prototype.
  • Just like at Davison when we challenge inventors to “Dare to Invent,” encourage your child to enter their invention into a science fair or contest. This will not only motivate them to put their best foot forward, but it will also give them experience in communication by presenting and explaining their project to others.

National Kid Inventors’ Day shines a light on just how important kids can be in the invention of new products. Be your child’s biggest advocate and encourage them to follow their dreams, no matter how big or how small they may be!

Copyright Davison 2014




The Power of Sound: Acoustic Levitation


Japanese scientists Yoichi Ochiai, Jun Rekimoto and Takayuki Hoshi released a video of their levitation experiments that illustrate just how powerful noise can be.  The phenomenon at hand is three-dimensional mid-air acoustic manipulation or in simpler terms, acoustic levitation. Basically, this phenomenon can be described as the method of using sound waves in order to suspend small particles.

So, what exactly is acoustic levitation and how does it work? Let’s take a quick condensed look so you can get straight to the video and see for yourself just how cool of a concept it really is!

First and foremost, at the core of acoustic levitation is the idea that something intangible has the ability to lift objects. This happens by taking advantage of the properties of sound that cause solids, liquids and heavy gases to float. Sound has the ability to levitate objects either on Earth or in gas-filled enclosures in space.

In this video, there are four speakers that are surrounding an open square area that is about 21 inches wide. Standing waves are used to create an ultrasonic focal point in that space, which means that a suspending force is generated that can then trap particles and objects in mid-air. The objects are then moved by manipulation of the waves.

Here is the video of acoustic manipulation at work! Check it out!

Copyright Davison 2014




‘Tis the Season for Innovative Christmas Inventions

Innovation, Innovative Inventions

Whether you want to believe it or not, Christmas Day is tomorrow! We can only hope that you are putting the finishing touches on wrapping your presents and, for those of you who waited until the last day to get your shopping done, well, good luck!

Aside from the holiday stress, we thought we would offer you a light-hearted blog post to lift your spirits and spread the giving spirit that is associated with this time of the year!

Let’s take a look at some of the ideas for innovative Christmas present inventions that we stumbled upon while we were shopping around!

Glowing fruit bowl- People don’t like fruit cake almost as much as they don’t like rotten fruit. Well, this invention would be perfect for that fruit-lover in your life. The BLUE bowl is a product that was invented through collaboration between Turkish designers. Although this may not be the most stylish gift, it is practical and the blue ring of light keeps your fruit fresh for longer periods of time. The blue light, which has been proven to inactivate certain types of bacteria, is actually a UV wavelength light that shines over the top and around the sides of the bowl. The wavelength helps fight off  bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and ethylene gas, which speeds up the process of rotting. By getting rid of these bacteria, the BLUE bowl has found a “Better Way” to keep your produce safer and fresher for longer.

Woofer Speaker – This invention is giving new meaning to a ‘woofer’ on your stereo system, literally. A headless German Shepherd may not be the best Christmas gift, but, what about a white German Shepherd, whose head was substituted for a speaker system? (Note: these aren’t real dogs).

With the pun fully intended, these Woofer Speakers have the same function as any other woofer speaker on the market, except this speaker invention was designed to mesh well in varying rooms like a hunting lodge, rec room or maybe even an art studio, to name a few.  I wonder how Sir Barks-a-lot sounds on that Woofer Speaker? Maybe that joke was a tad bit of a stretch.

Origami baby stroller- This invention is great for those soon-to-be or new parents! The Origami baby stroller makes going on a walk a multi-tasking event, because it gives you the option to charge your phone as you walk with the stroller; a perfect feature for those who like to document every moment of their child’s life! Rain or shine, during the day or at night, this stroller has pathway lights that will make you and your baby more visible to motorists, a definite check mark in the safety department. Although this baby stroller doesn’t have a V-8 engine, it does have an LCD dashboard that displays a thermometer, speedometer, plus trip and lifetime odometers. Let’s just say that we hope one day this invention will be geared towards adults; it sounds like a luxury car for babies!

These are just a few of the innovative inventions that would make perfect Christmas gifts, particularly for those who are racing against the clock to finish their holiday shopping. Nonetheless, these inventions are infused with innovation and creativity to design a product that can be used by people far and wide!

Happy holidays from Davison to you and your family!

Copyright Davison 2013



Zeroing in on the Uses of Drones

Innovation, Innovative Inventions, Inventions

On Monday, we wrote a blog that talked about Amazon’s future plans of using drones to deliver small packages to customers within 30 minutes of their order being placed. We thought that the idea of drones was so interesting that we decided to share with you a brief background on this invention, otherwise known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

UAVs were first introduced to the United States Military because of their ability to be controlled remotely. The first UAVs were not very sophisticated, because they only had the capability to fly along pre-set paths and they operated off of an internal navigation system. Eventually, the servicemen began to informally refer to any machine that flew without the control of humans onboard as a “drone.”

The idea behind the drone is a category that refers to any unmanned, remotely piloted flying craft that ranges from anything as small as a radio-controlled toy helicopter to a 32,000-pound, $104 million Global Hawk.

To further clarify things, there are many names that drones can be called, and most of these names come from the military. For instance, drones have been described by the military as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs), Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) and Remotely Piloted Systems (RPSs).

Let’s take a look at some of the most common and iconic military drones!

RQ-11 Raven- This drone weighs four pounds and can be launched just by throwing it. Once it is airborne, it’s then piloted by a hand-held unit that resembles a video-game controller. This is the most commonly used drone and more than 19,000 have been built. This drone is mainly used for exploring around corners and sending video footage of rooftops back to troops as they move through a city.

MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper- These are the most iconic of the drones because they can be armed and have become the preferred tool for drone strikes. There is, however, a main difference between them, and that is that the newer Reaper is bigger and has a more powerful engine that also has the ability to carry much more than before.

RQ-4 Global Hawk- This drone is 32,000 pounds, has a 130-foot wingspan and has the ability to fly for more than a day. The Global Hawk can go up to 60,000 feet and can take high-resolution images and detect and track moving targets on the land below from high elevations.

Just as the invention of the drone can be used for military purposes, they also can be used for civilian purposes as well.

Just this year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified two types of unmanned aircraft that were created for civilian use. The new drones are Institu’s Scan Eagle X200 and the AeroVironment’s PUMA. Both of these drones are about 4.5 feet long, have wingspans of nine and 10 feet and weigh less than 55 pounds.

The Scan Eagle was used by a major energy company off of the Alaskan coast that surveyed ice flows and migrating whales. The PUMA, on the other hand, is expected to be used in order to support emergency response crews for wildlife surveillance and monitor oil spills over the Beaufort Sea.

As you can see, drones are predominately used by our military, however, there are new drones being used for civilian purposes as well! But, for the most part, the usage of drones in the United States has commonly been limited to police and other government agencies.

Like we said before, Amazon is working on a project to one day use drones for their delivery system, so, it might only be a matter of time before more and more drones are being used for commercial purposes. As always, time and technology will tell if these plans will actually come to fruition!

Copyright Davison 2013





It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s… an Amazon Delivery?

Innovation, Innovative Inventions, Inventions, Prototyping

Amazon already delivers; but now, Amazon may redefine the idea of a speedy delivery, with the help of drones. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently announced that the company may soon deploy a fleet of mini-drones to deliver small packages to your doorstep.

That’s right; a drone might be delivering the small packages that you purchased from Amazon right to your doorstep.
Although this project idea still needs to go through extra safety testing and, of course, receive federal approval, Bezos thinks that Amazon “Prime Air” could be up and running within four to five years.

The company recently posted a video to their website that shows a prototype drone.  The body of this device is about the size of a flat-screen monitor and is attached to eight small helicopter rotors that sit on four tall legs.

The claws that are located underneath the “octopeter” will latch onto a standard-sized plastic bucket that will roll down a conveyer belt at Amazon’s distribution center; and, inside the bucket is the order.

The drone will work in a manner that when it lifts off into the air, it will be like a giant mechanical insect that will deliver the package in just 30 minutes after clicking the “pay” button on their site.

The prototype should be able to carry packages up to five pounds, which covers 86 percent of the items that Amazon delivers.

Aside from the creative minds at Amazon hammering out other details regarding the creation of this prototype, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also is currently hard at work ironing out the rules for use of these unmanned aerial vehicles.

The timeline for this project may be sooner than Bezos thought. The FAA’s rules could be in place by 2015 and Amazon Prime Air drones would be ready for takeoff.

Can you imagine Cyber Monday in 2015? It is without a doubt that the fleet of drones would be out in full force!

If you can’t imagine these drones in the air, here is a little sneak peek of what Amazon Prime Air will offer consumers:

Copyright Davison 2013




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