How Your Daily Routine Could Land You a Patent
Wake up, shower, shave, brush your teeth, get dressed, walk the dog. Most people do a lot of the same things every day and don’t feel very inspired while they do them but hidden within your daily routine could be an idea you can turn into a new patent.
When our everyday tasks become rote, we stop actively thinking about what we are doing and can become numb to minor inconveniences and inefficiencies. Sometimes, the way to discover a great idea is to practice a little mindfulness. Here’s a technique our design team uses to uncover new ideas that can become patents. We start keeping track of everything we do hour by hour. Some of us keep a small notebook or use our phones to snap pictures of what we’re doing to help jog our memory but often we just take a few minutes to reflect on the day’s tasks and experiences and make a list. We might end up with things like this:
- 2:00 am – woke up when X stole the covers, didn’t go back to sleep until 3:30am
- 6:00 am to 7:00 am – dog jumped on the bed wanting breakfast, got up, checked phone for texts/email/headlines, fed the dog, went for a run (3 miles, usual route).
- 7:00 am to 8:00 am – started the coffee, took a shower (ran out of shampoo), got dressed (no clean black socks), toasted a bagel, scanned news on phone.
- 8:00 am to 9:00 am – checked traffic, drove to office downtown, spent 5 minutes looking for parking (forgot to bring quarters for parking meter), checked email.
The idea is to capture routines and little problems throughout the day (like no clean socks.) Little problems can often be the spark for a patent idea. What else is a patent but a solution to a problem?
The inspiration for one of our current patents, our self-shredding label, came from thinking about one of these annoying daily problems. I’m a privacy fanatic and I try to protect myself from identity theft by shredding mail with my name and address before putting it in the recycling bin. I realized that I was wasting time each day taking mail and package labels to the shredder in my office and standing there feeding them in a few pieces at a time. I didn’t want a shredder in my front hall or a bigger shredder in my office, I just wanted an easier way to destroy a mailing label that had my name and address on it. That minor, everyday inconvenience turned into an innovative new product design and U.S. Patent # 9779641. Over time, that simple idea for a self-shredding label has become a much bigger idea with applications for pharmacy labels, evidence protection labels, and novelty cards and stickers.
Give your daily routine a little hour-by-hour scrutiny and you may come up with a solution that can change someone’s life for the better and get yourself a new patent to boot!