“The Inventor looks upon the world and is not content with things as they are. He wants to improve whatever he sees, he wants to benefit the world, he is haunted by an idea.
The spirit of Invention posses him,seeking materialization” — Alexander Graham Bell
Every mechanical or electronic device you use every day is the product of a group of inventors. Inventors have completely changed our world, and continue to do so. The readers of this article are uniquely able to be that key inventor! How to do it? Here are some inspiring examples:

  1. The airbag. In 1952, John Hetrick, a retired industrial engineer, avoided an accident with his Chrysler in the last minute. The rest of his trip passed while he wondered how to soften the effects of a car accident. One year later, he registered a patent for an array of pillows built in a way that they will inflate in case of a sudden stop\slowdown. But as he experienced, it was easier to register the patent than really build it. Only years later it was built properly and on the right speed of inflation without hurting the passengers. The critical advancement happened when Alan Breed invented a cheap sensor – a magnet that holds a metal ball that gets released under specific forces – that creates an electric circuit and make the pillows inflate.
  2. The ATM. The first money-giving machine was installed in New York in 1939. Its inventor, Luther George Simian, saw in his mind a machine out of a hole in the wall that will allow customers to withdraw money without the need to go inside a bank. At the beginning, only prostitutes and gamblers used this service, so it disappeared completely after six months. The real breakthrough arrived at 1969 when Donald Wetzel developed an automatic money machine for a company called Docotel, and the machine was installed in Chemical bank in New York. To turn away thieves, the machine was covered with thick iron. Four years later there were already 2,000 ATMs around the United States. The cost for building and installing one was $30,000. These days, there are more than 400,000 machines spread around the country.
  3. The Band-Aid. Josephine Dickinson, a housewife from New Jersey, was the inspiration for her husband Earl, who was looking for an efficient way to protect her from house accidents. He took a piece of gauze, put it on the sticky side of surgery plaster and added some crinoline so it could be rolled without sticking to itself. Afterwards, every time his wife cut herself, she would just take a piece of the readymade Band-Aid instead of using a thread to tie the gauze to herself. At that time, Dickinson worked for Johnson & Johnson who was already selling hygiene products. He showed his invention to the executives, who almost instantly recognized the importance of the invention.
  4. The digital camera. Steve Sasson was the new guy in Kodak’s research lab when his boss asked him to investigate a new sensor called CCD (Charged Coupled Device). The year was 1974, and the whole conversation lasted no more than 20 seconds. “This project was the least important one at that time,” says Sasson. One year later – equipped with a prototype for “Filmless camera,” sized like a small toaster — Sasson took a photo of Joy, who worked across the hallway. The technology was not invented by Sasson, but he was the one who found a way to decode and permanently store the data from the CCD and use a program to convert this information into a recognizable photo that can be displayed on Sony’s Trinitron television. (History courtesy of interestingthings.info)

There are many great concepts that need inventing in our industry. We just need an inventor to make them real. Try out these ideas:

  • An IG assembly that does not need sealed air space to insulate well.
  • A framing system that is cost effective, yet strong and insulating.
  • A new operator type that solves the current limitations.
  • A way to integrate fenestration into the wall easily.
  • A low-cost way to rate fenestration thermal efficiency.
  • A hardware system that is safer than available now.
  • An easy to use WOCD device.

If you are that person the Bell mentions in his quote “… he wants to improve whatever he sees…” start working on these ideas and let us know how it’s going. Keep innovating.


  1. Inspiring story, but how about a follow up on how to PROTECT your idea and concept? With the changes in patent laws over the years, overcoming “First to File” can be a real challenge, especially for an independent, when it costs between $3K-$10K for a provisional. How about some tips on tackling it yourself?

  2. Arlene,
    Great idea. We will work on it for a future blog. A quick reference for now is from the US patent office-

    How do I apply for a patent?
    Inventors may apply for one of two types of patent applications: (1) A non-provisional application, which begins the examination process and may lead to a patent and (2) A provisional application, which establishes a filing date but does not begin the examination process. For a listing of the information available, visit the USPTO Web site athttp://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/catalog/products/pp-a2n-1.htm.


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