How to become an inventor

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Main Question or Discussion Point

What do u think?
If u want to be an inventor, what route should u take?
Engineer or physics?
 

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  • #2
Gokul43201
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Inventors are extinct !
 
  • #3
Ivan Seeking
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I would say engineer but I think this is a bad way to make the choice. You most likely will have to live with your choice but never succeed as an inventor [most never do], so choose what you enjoy most. From a purely practical point of view you are far better of with an engineering degree. IMO you should only go for physics if you can't help yourself, like me. :biggrin:

What interests you about inventing?
 
  • #4
Ivan Seeking
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Gokul43201 said:
Inventors are extinct !
I wouldn't go that far but successful ones have always been rare. I think the biggest fallacy is that inventors spend all of their time inventing. The fact is, most spend most of their time marketing their inventions and being poor.
 
  • #5
Math Is Hard
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Gokul43201 said:
Inventors are extinct !
heh! Last I checked Ron Popeil was alive and well! :biggrin:
 
  • #6
Gokul43201
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Maybe a century ago, you had real 'inventors' - people whose livelihoods depended on inventing and patenting stuff. Now, Edison has been replaced by GE. More than 99% of all inventions are patented by R&D companies (or the R&D Depts. of big Corporations); some go to University Professors, few to career inventors. "Inventor" is not a financially stable occupation anymore - it never really was one, unless you were an Edison, but now it's downright hazardous.

However, if you have a trust fund to take care of you, then you don't need a livelihood, you're looking for a full-time hobby.

Everyone wants to be an inventor - when they're 17 ! Then you go to college and Grad School and you nderstand better, what it means to be an inventor. I'm not trying to be pessimistic or squash your dreams, so here's my advise...

In college, work towards an engineering degree - you will find yourself having to take physics courses, as they are usually required for any engineering major. At the end of this experience, you will know what to do next - and if you still want to be an inventor, you know best !
 
  • #7
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Inventors are extinct !
That's not true. I've got tons of million dollar ideas.

1. For instance,

Scented books.

Don't you just hate it when your library or used textbook smells like crap (literally)? You've got to read that thing and carry it?

No worries, my scented books idea will revolutionize reading.

2. Scented Hats

When taking tests, especially large ones, in the middle of the test I have a habit of taking off my hat and sniffing it. Wouldn't it be cool if hats were scented, kind of like scented markers (orange, grape, chocolate etc.)

It never fails. I've always scored 90% or above after I've sniffed my hat. It'll get even higher if there are distinct scents as opposed to just sweat and other unappealing odors.


Okay, so the 2nd one might not benefit others as much as it benefits me. The first one is definitely worth thinking about.
 
  • #8
Ivan Seeking
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Math Is Hard said:
heh! Last I checked Ron Popeil was alive and well! :biggrin:
Yes the extinct inventor belief has been around for over a hundred years now.

I remember hearing similar things not long before two slightly-past-teenage brats in a garage invented something known now as an Apple. Still, In statistical terms, the chances of being a great artist or a rock star are probably better.

My point is that people need to understand the commitment required, and personal costs, and the challenges in choosing an inventor's life. I have been there. I did suceed in this pursuit, in a way, but not in the way that I expected.
 
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  • #9
Ivan Seeking
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Dagenais said:
That's not true. I've got tons of million dollar ideas.

1. For instance,

Scented books.

Don't you just hate it when your library or used textbook smells like crap (literally)? You've got to read that thing and carry it?

No worries, my scented books idea will revolutionize reading.

2. Scented Hats

When taking tests, especially large ones, in the middle of the test I have a habit of taking off my hat and sniffing it. Wouldn't it be cool if hats were scented, kind of like scented markers (orange, grape, chocolate etc.)

It never fails. I've always scored 90% or above after I've sniffed my hat. It'll get even higher if there are distinct scents as opposed to just sweat and other unappealing odors.


Okay, so the 2nd one might not benefit others as much as it benefits me. The first one is definitely worth thinking about.

It goes like this. I have idea X. First question: How can I make money?

Then, how can I protect myself? Can anyone do this or can I patent this, or can I keep my technology secret?

If you can patent the idea, do you have a few hundred thousand dollars to prosecute companies that violoate your patent? There is a lot to know about the post patent game. If you really have a million dollar idea then someone will steal it.

Still, sometimes a person can just start doing something and against all odds, it works. I still keep a keen eye for simple ideas that can be tried with a minimum of expenses. Some products are even practical to produce almost more as a hobby at home.

As a gag father's day gift, back when the power breakfast, power meeting, power run, power suit, power blah blah blah was in vogue, I should have gone for the power tie - a tie with a 110 Volt plug attached. Unfortunatly the window of opportunity had passed before it ocurred to me. Something like this might have produced a tidy profit for a few months. I find that there are niche markets for this kind of stuff that produce short term profits, but again, we are talking about a life of marketing.
 
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  • #10
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If you are to create a whole new technology, wouldn't that be better if u study physics? In my opinion, you may studied lot more theory in studying physics than studying in engineer. Then you may be able to further develop the idea then apply it into practical use. Although the latter case seems more likely to suit an engineer.
Well, i agree with you that the money is the biggest issue in the reallity. That is what i have to overcome.
There is another quesion, in order to invent something new, u are suppose to keep the idea secret, but should u discusss it with some other ppl to see wheter it may works or not?
 
  • #11
Ivan Seeking
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darkar said:
If you are to create a whole new technology, wouldn't that be better if u study physics? In my opinion, you may studied lot more theory in studying physics than studying in engineer.
I think this works for and against you. Engineers gain some practical knowledge that comes in handy. In physics I think we spend more time having the core concepts drilled into our heads. I have seen where this can be an advantage as well.

There is another quesion, in order to invent something new, u are suppose to keep the idea secret, but should u discusss it with some other ppl to see wheter it may works or not?
If you really have a million dollar idea then someone will steal it. If it not a significantly good idea then feel free to discuss it all that you want. :wink:

There is a company in Southern Oregon called Caddock Industries. At one time at least, and probably still true, they claimed to produce the world’s most precise resistors. They also do some specialty stuff like no one else. For example, they produced a resistor that was used exclusively to protect against lightning strikes to phone systems. AFAIK, they still have no parallel competition in these and certain other areas of resistor technology.

In order to preserve secrecy they have never patented their processes, and no one has ever figured out just how they do what they do. I believe that only three people know all of the critical secrets. If they had patented any of this they would have lost exclusive rights to this technology long ago. Patents are typically only good for 7 to 14 years. The point: never underestimate the importance of secrecy for any truly valuable idea.

The moral of the story: Inventing is not an easy thing to do. You can always decide to trust someone, but trust like this can and often does end friendships...that is if anything really comes of the invention in the first place. This happend to two cousins of mine that were very close. like brothers really for 40 years. Now they hardly ever speak. One made money; one didn't. This was more about a business venture than an invention, but the situation was basically identical in that new technology was being implemented on a fee for services basis. The one who had the idea is not the one who made the money [as I understand the dispute]. I tend to believe it since the same cousin screwed me once as well. It cost me a trip to Europe. Later when I was working on another invention, he came after me again. His goal was to learn everything that we had done...at my expense no less! :rofl: Right about then the phone was suddenly disconnected. :surprise:
 
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  • #12
Dagenais said:
That's not true. I've got tons of million dollar ideas.
Don't you just hate it when your library or used textbook smells like crap (literally)? You've got to read that thing and carry it?
They smell like that because they're old. Any scent from manufacturing would long have worn off. If you are really concerned, spray some perfume on them.
 
  • #13
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If you are really concerned, spray some perfume on them.
I already do...
 
  • #14
Math Is Hard
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Dagenais said:
Don't you just hate it when your library or used textbook smells like crap (literally)? You've got to read that thing and carry it?
I must confess I have never had a problem with stinky textbooks.
2. Scented Hats
I don't know about hats, but they have great scented t-shirts in Hawaii (big island).
http://www.crazyshirts.com/deptbycolor.cfm?dept=004 [Broken]
I have one that's chocolate scented. The scent only lasts through about 5-6 washes though.
 
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  • #15
Ivan Seeking
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Math Is Hard said:
The [chocolate] scent only lasts through about 5-6 washes though.
Nah, just add some Nestle's Quik during the rinse cycle.
 
  • #16
Ivan Seeking
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darkar said:
There is another quesion, in order to invent something new, u are suppose to keep the idea secret, but should u discusss it with some other ppl to see wheter it may works or not?
Look, if you really get serious about all of this the thing to do is to obtain good non-disclosure and Promise not to Compete agreements, and require that anyone you involve must sign them. Otherwise the problem is that any friendly agreements void of good legal definition tend to dissolve if and when real money gets involved.

Of course, the other problem is that if real money does come along, defending these agreements later can be tremendously expensive. Large companies are famous for running the little guy out of money in court while they saturate the market.

I would also note that most ideas are not worth all of the effort. Any invention requires a tremendous investment of time and usually money. This investment must be made completely on faith and best guesses, so you need to be very selective about where you risk your time. Think about the economics and marketing before you get serious about engineering or development.

A great example of some risk management in this regard is found in the practices of some [many :rolleyes: ] small, specialized circuit design companies for industrial components and control modules. One in particular developed a "hockey puck" style module that is used in nearly every restaurant and bar in the country. They have an entire catalog of very select products, very specialized stuff, which is tantalizing for certain applications. After working with this company for awhile one discovers that most of the advertised modules have never been built; or even designed. They are only designed and built once a large order is obtained - like hundreds or even thousands - or once someone is willing to pay for a small production run which, for obvious reasons, is very expensive per unit. Of course they will only admit all of this when you back them into a corner. To cover themselves [legally] they still guarantee the six to eight weeks for delivery for X number of units, as advertised.

Late edits.
 
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