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 probably 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 thinking actively 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 is a technique our design team uses to uncover new ideas that can become patents. We start by recounting what we did over the past day, 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. We might come up with a list like this:
1. 2:00 am – woke up when dog stole the covers, didn’t go back to sleep until 3:30am
2. 6:00 am to 7:00 am – dog jumped on the bed wanting breakfast, got up, checked phone for messages/alerts/headlines, fed the dog, went for a run (3 miles, usual route).
3. 7:00 am to 8:00 am – started the coffee, took a shower (ran out of soap), got dressed (no clean black socks), toasted a bagel, scanned email on phone.
4. 8:00 am to 9:00 am – checked traffic, drove to office downtown, spent 5 minutes looking for parking, forgot to bring cash for parking meter, met with Jorge for 30 minutes.
The idea is to capture routines and little problems throughout the day. Little problems can often be the spark for a patent idea because what else is a patent but a solution to a problem.
The inspiration to one of our current patents, our self-shredding label, came about by becoming more aware of a daily routine that was becoming a hassle. 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 wanted an easier way to destroy a mailing label with less effort. That minor, everyday inconvenience turned into an innovative new product design and U.S. Patent # 9779641.
Give your daily routine a little hour by hour scrutiny and you may come up with a solution for stolen covers or no clean socks - you might find you can change someone’s life for the better and get yourself a new patent to boot!