Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Scalable Innovation: Figures for Section I (pages 3-59).

Today, I continue posting figures from our new book Scalable Innovation: A Guide for Inventors, Entrepreneurs, and IP Professionals. In my previous post I uploaded and explained figures from the Introduction and Prologue. Now we continue with Section I, where we introduce a system model that explains existing inventions, technologies, and patents. We also show how to use the model for developing new ideas.

Chapter 1. We start with Invention, a great children poem by Shel Silverstein. For copyright reasons the publisher is not allowed to print the poem in our book, but you can find it on the web.

Figure 1.1 illustrates the problem encountered by the inventor.

FIGURE 1.1    “The cord ain’t long enough.”

Chapter 2. In this chapter we show (in 3-D!) how to map our system model on the Invention and discover missing elements.

FIGURE 2.1    Invention as a system concept, mapped onto its physical implementation.

FIGURE 2.2    The system model.

FIGURE 2.3    A working invention with all the system elements present.

To further explain the system model, we follow up with a number of examples, starting with Edison's electricity distribution system. Why Edison? Because many people believe he is the greatest innovator of all time without really understanding what he actually invented.

FIGURE 2.4 The diagram is courtesy the Lemelson–MIT Program. (From Lance Whitney, "Edison tops Jobs as world’s greatest innovator," c|net, January 26, 2012)

We show that Edison's real breakthrough was the new, scalable parallel electric grid, not the light bulb. The picture below shows grid design "before" (a) and "after" (b) Edison.

FIGURE 2.6 Before: (a) In the old electric grid the voltage decreased with distance away from the electricity generator, causing the bulbs to glow less brightly, or requiring the use of thicker (and thus more expensive) wires. After: (b) Edison introduces a compensating line (ground return) that allows the use of high voltages (which reduced the amount of expensive copper wiring needed), and at the same time permits all light bulbs to continue operating, unaffected by any one burning out, for example, and also allowing for additional generators or lamp arrays to be connected more easily.

In our second example we apply the system model to Steve Job's system and show how it goes far beyond the iPhone.

FIGURE 2.8    Mapping Steve Jobs’ system in 3-D

FIGURE 2.9 A 2-D diagram of the implementation layer. Element positions correspond to their system level functionality.

Chapter 3. We use the model analyze and understand patents.

FIGURE 3.1 Guiding Plasmon Signal, US Patent 7,542,633.
FIGURE 3.2. Zooming in on a specific system element. Control subsystem within a system.

Chapter 4. We consider the paradox of system interfaces and how successful solutions enable rapid growth.

In the beginning of the 20th century, GE developed an ingenious brand marketing campaign to promote its light bulbs, positioning Edison as a celebrity inventor (The greatest innovator of all time!).
FIGURE 4.1 Edison’s light bulb: the Sun’s only rival. Pictures courtesy of The Smithsonian Institution. (From Carl Sulzberger, A bright and profitable idea: Four decades of Mazda incandescent lamps, Power & Energy 4, 3 (2006): 78.)

Few people know that Edison's longest lasting invention is the standard screw-in light bulb socket (a system interface between the grid and lighting device).

FIGURE 4.2    Edison screw-in socket, US Patent 438,310.

Another example of a long-lasting system interface:
FIGURE 4.4    The QWERTY keyboard. C. L. Sholes’ typewriter US Patent 207,559.

Chapter 5. Here we introduce the concept of system Control Points.

FIGURE 5.1 A system diagram with Control Points and interfaces.

(To be continued...)

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