Saturday, July 31, 2010

Write provisional patents not white papers: my advice to Universities

Note: The statistics in this article come from Sydney and NSW Universities who are in the mid range in terms of patent filing activity ahead of most US Universities but behind technology centres like Stanford and MIT.

After visiting now two of Australia’s premiere Universities it is clear to me that there is a major opportunity here. Some stats first:

  • With thousands of researchers and students at each campus and tens and often hundreds of millions invested in education how many projects are submitted for patent application: approx 100 per year.
  • How many of these get provisional filings? 40-60
  • And how many get granted? About 15.

15 patents from hundreds if not thousands of great brains… WHAT A WASTE.

If any of these researchers are like me at all they are capable of at least 10 provisional patent apps per person. So why isn't there thousands of provisional apps being filed?

I hope to find out… but for now here is an idea to explore.

  • Make provisional patent writing a basic requirement of any researcher/ students training.
  • Incentivize them with a 15% royalty on all patent sales/ licenses after expenses.
  • Place all patents in a simple open portal/ database and publish them publicly or at least the abstract of the filing… make sure that everyone gets a chance to know about the idea that is being protected and give them every chance to express interest.
  • The database should be activly marketed to industry and government with a publicity/ media tie in for standout projects.
  • The portal could also encourage rating and cross collaboration using the format of sites like thefunded.com where the inventor and each project can be commented on using community feedback to refine ideas, to expose problems with ideas and to allow great ideas/ patents to percolate to the top.
  • Attach whitepapers to the patent filing AFTER the provisional has been filed.

If this idea is resonating with you and you are working at or with a University, feel free to contact me to explore the opportunity… this is a really important initiative in my mind.

Ric

University of NSW wrap up

Thanks to you all at the University of NSW for the interesting night we had last Wednesday. I was expecting mainly business and science post grads and students but was surprised to find faculty, University business partners, researchers and even some VC’s made up the majority of the audience… so they knew all the industry lingo and were very tuned in to the subject of business development… we moved very quickly and due to the interactivity explored lots of area together… I have a few ideas from the time together and will explain them in upcoming articles but here are two that stand out…

  1. The need for a change of culture at Universities to write provisional patents rather than whitepapers and my suggestion to UNSW to then place these in a portal that allows third parties to buy or license the technologies. Then if the patents aren't sold or licensed to simply publish them as public domain after the 12 month expiry of the provisional. It’ll cost $200 each but will open a commercialization window that wasn’t there before. and;
  2. The need to explain the idea behind a planning cap table and how it helps preserve equity across the whole life of your project to exit. This request came from a number of audience members who approached me after the talk…

So, thanks everyone… I had a great time and especially to Steve Brodie for putting the evening together.

Ric

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Come and say hello – tomorrow Wed 28th July 5-7pm Uni of NSW Sydney

Hello everyone, if you are in Sydney please accept my invitation for you to come to the University of Sydney to talk about making your ideas fly.

The uni invited me to talk and have reserved some space for some of my blog readers to come if they want… but you have to register so please use the banner advert above to do that.

I will be talking a bit about the Uniloc story but more so talking about refining the process of making ideas fly from inception to reality, maximizing speed and keeping momentum.

I will also talk about the importance of IP/ patents in particular and the differences between doing business in Australia and overseas, especially the US.

I hope to make it interactive with lots of audience participation and questions at the end…

Ask questions about your own projects, or businesses or inventions… about government grants and loans… I’ve had a bit to do with a lot of stuff so hopefully I can share some insights as someone who has  been around for a bit.

Would be great to see you.

Ric

PS: Details on how to get there are at the registration page. Oh and BTW there will be light drinks and nibbles too as it is a sponsored event by the University.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Chilean surf film with eco theme

My missus and I were having lunch today at a nice restaurant near Lennox head when a confident young Chilean girl asked for some of our time having recognized us from the Australian Story episode.

Kaz (Karen) good naturedly accommodated her as she explained her passion for her home country and a film she and her partner were working on… I spent a little time coaching her on her plans and promised to try and think of some contacts or angles to help in her success…

Later she sent an email with a link to a trailer for the film that will include music artist Jack Johnson working with a famous Chilean musician with lyrics based on Chilean poetry…

The short just overflows with authenticity and ethnic awareness and is well worth recommending to my visitors… hope you enjoy it…

 

Customizable and expandable auto speed cruise control…

Cruise control kits, (even add-on kits – see bottom of article) have been around for a while but most of these were designed for the good old days where you got on the highway and sat on 110k’s (or 70mph in the states) until you got to where you were going…

… these days with traffic and speed zones that change all the time maybe more is needed…

Thus this invention– a customizable and expandable SMART vehicle cruise control.

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[Click to enlarge]

Its just like any other cruise control kit, except you select buttons to set the cruise control speed…

Why? Why not use the old “adjust your speed and reset” type cruise control technique?

Because that reset requires constant tweaking of the speed up and down on the set controls to dial in your desired speed. With this invention you see a 60 sign and you hit the 60 quick select button and your vehicle settles into that speed…. the box 3even has a tap button to turn on the backlit display so you aren't driving around with buttons glaring at you during night driving…

But this is where the fun starts. Because of what I've built into the box….note the USB expansion port….

Plug-ins

Yes. This little box is in fact a mini computer waiting for additional functions to be added to the cruise control system… for example….

A radar range finder that overrides the cruise control to match the speed of the car in front if its going slower than the speed set by the cruise control.

What about an optical character reader optimized for detecting and reading road side speed signs that automatically set the cruise control?

Or what about a limited range directional radio based speed control system where a solar powered speed transmitter is attached to every road sign and a receiver on your dash is attached to the smart cruise control and tells the car to slow down based on the limited range of the transmitter. Such a system could use wifi, laser or simple radio band.

Or even still, what about a GPS based system that is updated with all the speed zones and simply changes speed based on the cars location?

This is going to be a fun project.

Example of existing simple cruise control system below:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Remail2Aus: Latest front page for the site

This article relates to the ongoing project called Remail2Aus which is being designed to make it cheaper for Aussies to get stuff re-mailed to them from the US.

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Hopefully this iteration makes more sense to you all… with so many people showing an interest in the service I hope this helps explain better how the site/ service works…

This version show the simple 3 steps involved in getting your goods re-mailed to you. To have a look click on the image above or click this link.

The back end for a service like this is relatively simple once you get the strategy right so your feedback would very much be appreciated…

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Remail2Aus update: decrypting the US postal rate calculation…

This article relates to Rics work on a cheap remailing service to have things bought in the US sent back to Australia using the US postal services cheaper rates…

Decrypting the way the US postal services rates work is harder than I thought… it goes something like this:

  1. You tell them what weight your package is then
  2. You work out what speed of delivery and size tolerances you want as well as whether you use the USPS boxes (cheaper) or use your own packaging…

The problem with building Remail2 Aus is that I have to basically rebuild this site!

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This is the initial postal service selection screen found at:

http://ircalc.usps.gov/Default.aspx?country=10013&m=6&p=12&o=0

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This is the detailed service selection page that follows at:

http://ircalc.usps.gov/MailServices.aspx?country=10013&m=6&p=4&o=0

These is also some forms that need to be filled out for international shipping/ customs… sooooo things are starting to get complicated… but not a deal breaker.

WHAT IS ENCOURAGING is that the prices are 30%-80% cheaper than courier rates!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A quieter dirt bike exhaust… stick a car exhaust on it

Iv’e been an avid dirt bike rider since my pre teens… I love the countryside, love being in the bush, love riding but hate the noise of dirt bikes.. always have.

But with the conservation conscious area I live in it has become a deal breaker to not have some kind of massive noise reduction system…

I know the idea below looks daggy but hey it’s quiet…

An alternative is the zero enduro electric bike… they seem to be getting much more powerful with each new model…

Zero Dirt Bikes Air Jump

http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/gallery.php

High Def Video using Remote Control Helicopters

I’ve been watching this space for some time watching how people have been getting better and better quality from smaller and cheaper gear.

This Australian guys project is looking like its getting very close.

Eventually I’d like to experiment with using RC Helicopters to film guys in the surf around my home here at Byron Bay…

But as this technology matures I can see some really great applications for it… and for some reason the one that really stands out to me right now is expensive rural properties where you can get an idea of the land, the views, the house and its position and even indoor footage as long as its an electric RC helicopter…. how cool.

Something learned about Street Graffiti deterrents

The effectiveness of any deterrent is directly related to how long after the tagging session the graffiti is removed. Generally it has been found that taggers take delight and gain momentum from apathy to their activities.

The faster the graffiti is removed and with the least fanfare as possible, the less satisfaction they get from their actions.

The idea of a good deterrent is to make it cheap and quick to get rid of the offending graffiti and to do so without making a big deal about it…

Getting their art on the news only fuels their ego.

Searching for a street graffiti solution

If you look back over past posts you will see that street graffiti (tagging) has been an interest focus of mine  for a long time.

So how to solve it? Beside the obvious sociological approach of education etc, the deterrents I have looked at involves making it easier to remove the graffiti than to put it up in the first place.

Things I have tried:

  • A Teflon coat applied after painting that allows a quick spray of detergent then a wash off of the offending spray can paint.
    [FAILED] Spray can paints adhere to Teflon coating only marginally less than to any other surface which was really surprising.
  • An online paint colour  matching service which allows graffiti vigilantes an easy way of finding out what paint to buy to paint over graffiti. It involves putting white paper over the top of the base wall colour to get a colour corrected assessment of its pigments and then use a colour database to find the closest off the shelf canned or spray colour equivalent.
    [FAILED] Sadly when talking to the police about the approach it was explained to me that painting over the graffiti could lead to prosecution even if you were a tenant! How ridiculous!

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My last effort to address the problem was to explore the offerings of 3M to see if there was a covering that would be transparent to the graffiti tagger, but could be easily removed and replaced. The idea would be to do this first with high risk/ danger graffiti situations such as road signs and street signs and then expand out to protecting larger areas like whole walls.

The idea is that hopefully the tagger will not realize that a film is protecting the surface, they do their business then along comes a caring citizen or a local counsel worker or policeman and the film gets replaced.

The logic is that the tagger only gets off on seeing their handiwork irritate others… if its so easy to undo their work it may encourage them to move onto other mischief.

The 3M coating we looked at wont work since it is for glass, it’s expensive and they use a powerful glue, which they say deters taggers because it takes time to remove (time they cannot afford to take with the possibility of them getting caught) but the down side of this logic is that it takes a lot of labour time to remove and replace.

I am still on the look out for a simple to remove super transparent film that is cheap and easy to apply. And maybe the added twist of needing a chemical spray to release the glue or something like that… but it has to be cheap.

Maybe 3M might do a custom film project with me… maybe this angle is worth following.

R

Ric appears on regional TV news item regarding street graffiti

I was in a session with my assistant and a business manager when we saw a guy with a video camera go past the office window. Next thing you know he was interviewing me for a segment on the local news about the proliferation of graffiti in the area around Byron Bay.

The resulting segment aired last night. Except for the fact that I was quoted as saying I have no idea what to do about the graffiti (which I do) it was great to have the privilege of having a say on a subject that is a real blemish on what is one of the most picturesque places in the world.

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Click to view the segment

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Rail Trucking and the local Fire Brigade

My wife and I were out for our morning walk locally which lately has been doubling up as an opportunity to inspect the state of the local unused rail lines to see if they could be used for Rail Trucking tests.

While on one of these walks just a few days ago we ran into members of the local Fire Brigade (we call them Firies in Australia) who were walking the rail lines using them to plan fire breaks for next summer.

When we exchanged pleasantries, the conversation of Rail Trucking came up and suddenly the Firies eye lit up as they said that accessing the rail to get to fires would be really important and a fantastic advantage since rail often goes in places where roads don’t… they also loved the idea that the rail bogeys are not permanently attached to the truck like the Hi-Rail gear does…

All this was very encouraging for me since there is a fallback plan emerging that allows the Rail Trucking tech to at least find a home at Australia’s regional fire brigades if the main thrust of the Rail Trucking project doesn’t take.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Strong response to Remail2Aus

The response to the idea of the Remail2Aus service has been quite strong. Its also been interesting to see how many people has recommendations to the dummy website we set up to get some feedback.

Things we learned include:

  • Keeping it simple works for Google but NOT for a re-mail service!
  • People need to see examples and savings calculations.
  • People wanted to know quickly if it will work for them or not so a list of scenarios is needed to clarify how the service works…
  • And a clear section “of how much I will save” type examples…

We will be getting a new dummy page up soon with a vote counter on it so if you want to participate come back in the next day or so… with the kind of feedback we have been getting it will be much faster for us to get up as site and service that really makes sense.

Thanks so much for giving us your feedback.
Ric

Monday, July 12, 2010

Remail2Aus Needs your help. Does this page make sense?

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For those of you interested in doing some user testing Id really appreciate your comments on this dummy front page for the Remail2Aus project.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/180478/remail2aus/index.htm

It’s not working yet in terms of the ability to give a quote but I’d love to know if you have no idea how it works or if you think its pretty obvious how to get a quote to get US shipping for your stuff. Also what do you think of the pricing?

Any feedback would be appreciated, just leave it in the comments below. Regards,

Ric

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Remail2Aus: Remailing service for Australians buying in the US

In a call last night the right elements came together to start working on a project that has been waiting to happen for a long time… Remail2Aus.
It’s a re-mailing service that allows Aussies to send their purchases to a US address and have them re-mailed to Australia using cheap US Postal rates rather than expensive courier company rates… sure it takes a long time (often 10 days), but the price is much lower.
For example I wanted a hard-to-get watch from Amazon.com … its hard to get here and the price is twice the US price… the watch costs $70 bucks there but the international shipping is $45… since id have to pay $15 in Australia if I bought the same watch at $135 I’m still out ahead.
But if I used a good re-mail service where the US Postal rate is $13 for the same package and a $10 handling charge Im only paying  $7 more than my local courier charge…
The trick is to make it simple… no accounts to set up, just get a quote number and pay for the re-mail service by credit card or PayPal when the goods turn up at the re-mailing centre… it should be really cool and convenient.
The remail2Aus service should be up within a week or two.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Update on Rail Trucking: Started virtual engineering

This article refers to the Rail Trucker project invented by Ric Richardson that allows trucks and other vehicles to drive the rails under their own steam using easy roll-on roll-off bogey wheels.

And we’re off!

Yesterday the Rail Trucker project broke virtual ground by starting the engineering drawing and planning phase. It’s really interesting doing a heavy industries project with steel fabricators.

Many of the visualizations you have seen on this blog were done in Google Sketchup, but now things are serious as we start you do the full design work in AutoCAD.

Our first session explored alternate rail wheel positions and trying to get the truck centre of gravity lower.

The fabricator is a local steelworker who is also a wonderful artist/ painter so the hand renderings of his ideas come quick and fast… and look great.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Loogle is dead. Long live Barcodie

The project started as Loogle has now been renamed Barcodie.

The original logic for the name Loogle was that the technology was a local search engine for finding stuff to buy. ..

local +google = loogle.

Since we have worked on the project it has become clear that the project is all about barcodes… ie the ability to scan a bar code on a book or a CD or a toy and automatically have the software fill in all the information about what you are selling except the sale price and the condition and voila… instant searchable selling website for asll your neighbours to see…

Thus, the clear center of the idea is the barcode… if you can find a barcode on the thing you want to sell then you can scan it and sell it… with your iPhone or your web cam…

Thus the name…. Barcodie.

Coming soon to Barcodie.com

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Simple home heating system

A home experiment I read a little while ago gave me the idea to try a simple home heating idea to combat the chill that creeps into the house where I live. The houses are designed for summer… open plan, elevated floors and lots of airflow, but in winter the cold is conversely effective in invading the house. Damp is also an issue as it rains year round here.

The solution? Not much is needed. Just enough to dry out the air a bit and to get the rooms warm for the first 4-6 hours of the night before hitting the sack… so here goes

image What I came up with is 100 meters of matt black painted aluminium tubing with two hoses and a fan. The fan keeps the circulation and recirculation going of the air and the black tubes are laid out on the roof connected by automotive hoses in a closed loop system. Tests will show whether it is worth the effort but it is my hope that ill get 5-7 degrees Celsius or 15 degrees Fahrenheit of warmth out of the system.

The only problem I see is that most other systems
I see have the tubes enclosed in a mini greenhouse to amplify the suns effect but I don't think this is feasible for a roof mounted system. I’ll see.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ric’s recipe for highest velocity – choose the right CEO…

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My American mate Craig Etchegoyen will disagree with me but I stick to my view that the single biggest factor for success in any new business is finding the right CEO for a business execution.

Sure a great idea needs to be in place, and a good business plan needs to be put together by the founders (if for no other reason that to make sure the right CEO with the right target market/ exit is chosen) but the right CEO remains in my mind the single biggest factor to success after a good idea has been produced.

What about money? Money will come if you have a proven CEO… and the best money to have is the money that comes from people who have already had success with your chosen CEO.

Sure money can solve lots of problems but in the end the only way to reduce risk is to find a guy that has sold something like your product or idea before, can verify that it can be sold, and has experience in using the same customer base and marketing to get you there.

Why can’t a founder be the CEO? Because no one wants to spend two or three times the money they wouldn’t have to anyway to allow a new or inexperienced CEO to learn his job and to pay for his mistakes.

Here are some tips:

  • Link CEO equity to performance
  • Hire the CEO at least 40% on his ability to raise capital based on his own business plan and 60% on his proven ability to sell the product to your target market or exit (ie large Corporation).
  • Make sure you raise enough Angel funds to keep your CEO and a small team on salary for at least 9-12 months or enough time for them to do their own equity raise.

So how do you do it? Find someone hungry… someone who recently sold their company to a big corporation and didn't get enough to retire on, someone who initiated and built and sold a business not dissimilar to yours or a product not dissimilar to yours.