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It’s What’s Inside That Counts: the Arktek Revealed

In this video, we’ll show you how we told the story of the magic behind — or rather inside — the Arktek™, which received a USPTO Patents for Humanity Award in 2016. 

In order to produce these visuals, our team develops cutaways, or diagrams and prototypes with some external parts left out to reveal the inside. You may already be familiar with the Modernist Cuisine team’s use of cutaways to depict their work. After all, the best way to show the science of cooking is to see what’s actually going on inside the pot. And while these Modernist Cuisine photos are perhaps the most prominent cutaways – on display in museums as part of a traveling exhibit and in several cookbooks – we also use them to tell stories of our life-saving inventions.

A few years ago, for an exhibit in the Bezos Center for Innovation at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), our team created a cutaway of Global Good’s Arktek. The vaccine storage device can store a month’s supply of vaccines for a village of 6,000 people in 100 degree plus heat, without electricity. The innovative technology was developed by our team of inventors, rocket scientists, industrial engineers and health experts to save lives in countries with the lowest immunization rates in the world.

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Happy Birthday to The Explorer Who Knows No Bounds

This week at IV, we celebrate the 75th birthday of a scientist who fundamentally changed how we think about the universe and has become an emblem of intellectual curiosity for scientists, thinkers and innovators alike.  

Happy Birthday to The Explorer Who Knows No Bounds

By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“From his wheelchair, he's led us on a journey to the farthest and strangest reaches of the cosmos. In so doing, he has stirred our imagination and shown us the power of the human spirit here on Earth.” – President Obama awarding Stephen Hawking the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009

Throughout his life, Hawking has inspired scientists and innovators across generations, including Intellectual Venture’s co-founder Nathan Myhrvold. Hawking was one of Nathan’s first mentors when he was a postdoctoral fellow at Cambridge University.

Stephen Hawking is the former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, with the likes of Isaac Newton and Charles Babbage. He is also the author of the international bestseller A Brief History of Time as well A Briefer History of Time and a series of children’s books. He is currently the director of research at Cambridge’s Center for Theoretical Cosmology.

Hawking has dedicated his life to exploring the fundamental laws that govern the universe. He was the first to set forth a theory of cosmology explained by the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, and his pioneering work in physics and cosmology is among the greatest scientific discoveries of our time.

Most remarkable about Hawking, however, is perhaps not his scientific contributions themselves, but his unwavering pursuit of knowledge and his strength in the face of adversity. Hawking was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, over 50 years ago. The diagnosis usually means one has years to live, not decades. Despite his diagnosis, Hawking continued to explore the world around him and has remained steadfast in his goal to achieve complete understanding of the universe.

Hawking once said, “Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up.” It is this tenacious curiosity and spirit of exploration that inspires us at IV to continue to explore big ideas. So today and every day, we recognize Hawking and other great thinkers who embody this spirit and remind us just how far determination and curiosity can take us. 

Be sure to check out Nathan Myhrvold’s birthday wish to Stephen Hawking and follow him on Facebook via this link. 

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Top Invention Podcasts to Listen to in 2017

At IV, we recognize the immense value of listening. The act of listening allows us to expand our knowledge, develop new ideas and learn from others. So as you charge into 2017 full-speed ahead, take some time to listen to our top picks of invention and science podcasts and learn from some of the best and brightest minds in the New Year.  

Top Invention Podcasts to Listen to in 2017

Freakonomics

Award-winning author Stephen Dubner and distinguished University of Chicago Economics Professor Steven Levitt first wrote their best-selling book Freakonomics back in 2005, spawning several other books, a blog and radio show. Tune into this weekly podcast, hosted by Dubner, as he explores socioeconomic issues and ever-changing innovations with guests, including Nobel laureates, social scientists and entrepreneurs.

60-Second Science

Life can get busy, but this podcast from Scientific American is sure to fit into even the most hectic schedule. This one-minute podcast offers a daily dose of recent news on all things science and technology, from research on how dogs use fluid dynamics to smell better, to studies on how the public feels about using self-driving cars. Much like our monthly posts about recent must-read news stories, this podcast will help you stay informed.

Engines of Our Ingenuity

Innovation doesn’t always come easy. This podcast shows the long journey to invention through stories about how the greatest ideas of our time came to be. Engines of Our Ingenuity focuses not only on the value of success stories, but spectacular failures as well. As Nathan Myhrvold said in his commencement speech to the UCLA class of 2015, “The measure of a person is not whether you fail or not – because you’re gonna – the measure of a person is in what you do after that.”

StarTalk Radio

This podcast, with host and renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, will help you bridge the gap between pop culture and science. Discussing all things space, Tyson is joined each week by comedians, celebrities and other guests as he dives into everything from space travel, to the Big Bang to extra-terrestrial life.

Science Friday

For the past 25 years, host Ira Flatow has been making science fun during his weekly podcast through educational stories about science and technology. With guests including Jane Goodall and Elon Musk, you’re sure to find new discoveries and inventions that inspire you. Be sure to check out some of the archived episodes too, including this 1993 episode discussing the future of the internet.

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Holiday Greetings from Intellectual Ventures

Our very best for a wonderful holiday season. See you in 2017!

For last year’s card, which featured a photograph of various bread stamps by IV founder and CEO Nathan Myhrvold, click here. Happy holidays!

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IV’s Best Nine of 2016: Nine Pictures Worth 9,000 Words

The first photograph made in a camera was taken in the 1820s. Because of the early photographic process, the image is difficult to view. In fact, at first glance, it can be hard to see the image at all. However, if viewed from a specific angle and in specific lighting, the image’s unique story comes to life. Almost 200 years later, this notion that an image has the power to capture a pivotal moment in time if taken and viewed in the right circumstances still holds true. Some images need context. Others require the photographer to zoom in, zoom out, or even change the angle of the camera, to tell the full story.

IV’s Best Nine of 2016: Nine Pictures Worth 9,000 Words

As 2016 comes to a close, we’re depicting the year of ideas, inspiration and invention through nine of our favorite pictures that were taken at just the right moment in time. Because while the world of invention propels us forward quickly, it’s important to remember the milestones of progress that helped us get where we are today.

This year, IV’s Global Good won the USPTO Patents for Humanity Award for harnessing the power of invention to solve humanity’s biggest challenges. Among the team’s technology that is changing lives is the Arktek™ – a device that can store a month’s supply of vaccines in 100-degree heat without electricity. This photograph was captured last summer, when a team from Global Good traveled to Ethiopia’s Danakil Desert to observe how the Arktek is helping the community. Explore the impact the Arktek is making across Nigeria, Ethiopia, Senegal, India, Nepal and Fiji here

Photo credit: Peter Prato

IV founder and CEO Nathan Myhrvold shared his thoughts on the innovation landscape and emerging technologies with many different audiences this year. He was the keynote speaker at the annual Bloomberg Technology Conference where he spoke about IV’s unique approach to inventing and his top tips on what it takes to be a good inventor. Nathan also took part in a “fireside chat” at this year’s GeekWire Summit where he covered metamaterials, investing in invention and creating technology to transform lives. Finally, Nathan spoke at the Science|Business Horizon2020 conference in Brussels about the importance of risk-taking in innovation.

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Top 16 Invention Stories That Had You Talking in 2016

Transformative invention requires an element of idealism – calling on the dreamers, visionaries and optimists who imagine a better world. But truly life-changing invention demands more than just an imagination for a brighter future. There needs to be an element of pragmatism in invention – a trailblazer who creates an idea that bridges the gap between a vision for the distant future, and reality in the here and now. 

Top 16 Invention Stories That Had You Talking in 2016

It is in this space – where idealism meets ideas – that the magic of invention is brought to life. And as we look back on the 2016 inventions created around the world, and within our own walls at IV, we find inventors who pictured a better world and found a solution to make it happen. So before ringing in the New Year, join us as we share our favorite stories of what was achieved this year through the magic of invention.

Intellectual Ventures Invents for Impact

IV’s flow-based diagnostic malaria test was profiled in Scientific American. Want more on how IV is innovating to fight malaria? Senior vice president of Global Good & Research Maurizio Vecchione joined Seattle’s top thought leaders to share his thoughts on the best approach to eradicating malaria by 2040.

This year, Puget Sound Business Journal took readers on a tour of IV Lab – home to a rocket engine, a particle accelerator, a simulated dinosaur tail and most importantly, our team of problem solvers.

Nathan Myhrvold shared his thoughts on what it takes to be a good inventor at the Bloomberg Top Tech Conferencediscussing the current invention environment and offering insight into what he looks for before investing in technologies like artificial intelligence. 

Global Good won the WGHA’s Pioneers of Global Health ‘Outstanding Organization’ Award and the USPTO Patents for Humanity Award for its invention of Arktek™, which is helping to save lives in countries with the lowest immunization rates in the world.

The Invention Science Fund partnered with the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) to harness the vast potential of 3D printing technologies in new ways.

IV president and COO Adriane Brown was featured in Seattle Business.

The need to close the patenting gender gap and encourage more women to pursue STEM made received sustained national attention this year, making headlines in U.S. News and World Report, among others. IV also weighed in on the importance of diversity in driving innovation and helped to foster an interest in STEM among girls in the local Seattle community with Expanding your Horizons Network.

IV was a finalist for the Association for Financial Professionals Pinnacle Award, an annual award recognizing the leading finance groups for innovation, collaboration and results.

Global Good worked with Worthington Industries and the Indian Oil Corporation to launch its AI Shield in Tanzania and India, respectively. The technology helps cattle and dairy farmers by improving artificial insemination conception rates among livestock.

Inspiration through Invention

Kymeta CEO and president Nathan Kundtz wants to use metamaterials to change the world. He spoke with Puget Sound Business Journal to talk about bringing “a high-speed internet connection to anything that moves.”

Robert Fischell, inventor of the rechargeable pacemaker and the implantable insulin pump, shared a look into his problem-solving approach and creative process.

In these TED talks, seven young inventors tell stories of how they are finding innovative approaches to world health problems like Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and asthma.

President Obama awarded 21 Americans who have “helped push America forward” with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Of the 21 recipients, five have made contributions in tech and three of those are women.

Washington state ranked top in the nation for technology. Bonus: The article featured an image from IV’s very own IV Lab.

Imaging scientist and social impact inventor Ramesh Raskar won the Lemelson-MIT Prize for his Femto-photography work that is, quite literally, impacting how we see the world.

The new innovation hub at the University of Washington is fostering the next generation of inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs and making an impact in the Seattle community.

Want to catch all the 2017 invention news as its happening? Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter

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Our People: Amy Steadman

Amy Steadman is a biochemist for Intellectual Ventures Lab, currently working on a cervical cancer screening project to develop a test that would help diagnose high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) in the pre-cancer stage. We recently spoke with Amy to learn more about her passion for using research to help women in the developing world, her inspiration for her work and how she rocks out in her free time. 

Tell us about your work.

I’m working on a cervical cancer screening project, developing a test to detect the high-risk HPV DNA, a common sexually-transmitted infection that spreads quickly among teenagers and young adults the world over and often causes cervical cancer. Hundreds of thousands of women in low resource settings die of cervical cancer each year. If it is diagnosed in the pre-cancer stage, treatment is non-invasive, effective and inexpensive. So we are trying to develop a test that allows a clinician to screen a woman, immediately report whether she has HPV before the virus has caused cancer, and then treat her on the spot.  

What inspires you most about what you do?

My parents have devoted most of their lives to aid and missionary work in low-resource settings, so they provided a great model of the value of service to others. Research is the practical approach I have taken to helping people who don’t have the same resources that many of us have in the U.S. If I find myself feeling frustrated at work, I try to focus on the women who need this [cervical cancer screening] test and who will ultimately benefit from it. I find the purpose of my work to be incredibly inspiring, and it allows me to push through any stressful moments.

Working in the lab is also totally fun, and I’m excited to come to work. I think it is easy to overlook how cool some of even the most basic techniques are. I get to visualize the localization of fluorescent mRNA in cells, see DNA in a nucleus, grow immortalized cell lines, amplify and analyze DNA, specifically detect ultra-minute quantities of protein in solution and read tons of interesting literature.

What do you do for fun?

I like being outside as much as possible, playing sports with my three-year-old and dog, going to Seahawks and Chiefs games, gardening and reading. I used to produce concerts and play music, so I’m kind of into that, but I play more “Rock Band” than real music at this point. My “Rock Band” band is called “Sizzle,” and I was one of the top ranked people in the world in Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire) trivia. I also love traveling and eating.

Want to learn more about what inspires “Our People”? Subscribe to our newsletter today. 

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Inventors Gift Guide 2016

‘Tis the season to deck the halls and be jolly – why not splurge on a gift for the innovation enthusiasts in your life? From the aspiring inventor, to the seasoned chef or tech lover, our 2016 holiday gift guide is sure to impress. So go ahead, give your loved ones a gift that will have them geeking out all year round. 

Inventors Gift Guide 2016

For the inventor on the move:


Give the cyclists in your life the gift of eyes in the back of their heads with this augmented-reality helmet. The Optic helmet features front and rear cameras and a drop-down visor that can overlay live-streaming footage from the rear camera onto a rider’s field of view. The helmet can also show GPS navigation information and tracking statistics. 

For the ‘gotta have it now’ inventor:

At IV, we’re big fans of 3D printing and its vast potential to revolutionize nearly every industry – not to mention your holiday shopping list. Operating 25 to 100 times faster than conventional printing, the fastest 3-D printer will make for the perfect gift for the more impatient giftees on your list. Watch it in action here.

For the foodie and the chef:


Give the health conscious food lover in your life the power to see the nutritional make-up of their food right from the palm of their hand. This cutting-edge food scanner can instantly measure how many calories are in food. Or, if your giftee is a seasoned chef, consider this smart pan with a temperature sensor that connects to a smartphone app and brings a whole new level of precision into the kitchen.

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Thirteen Must-Read Stories Featuring Inventions that Propel Us Forward

“It’s ingenuity that will make the difference between a bleak future and a bright one.” – Bill Gates

Thirteen Must-Read Stories Featuring Inventions that Propel Us Forward

This quote hangs at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center along with a display of inventions making a worldwide impact, including Global Good’s Arktek™. But beyond its role as a backdrop, the quote embodies the ambition at the heart of invention – to create ideas that move society forward and improve lives. This month, the links we’re loving tell tales of inventors fostering big change through big ideas.

IV in the News

Global Good won the USPTO Patents for Humanity Award for its invention of Arktek™ – a device which can keep vaccines cool for more than a month with no power and is helping to save lives in countries with the lowest immunization rates in the world.  

IV metamaterials spinout Echodyne announced the successful test results of its new detect-and-avoid radar technology, which can “see” both moving and stationary objects.

Global Good recently worked with Worthington Industries and the Indian Oil Corporation to launch its AI Shield in Tanzania and India, respectively. The technology can help Tanzanian cattle and dairy farmers by improving the process of livestock breeding.

Along with top thought leaders in Seattle, Senior Vice President of Global Good, Maurizio Vecchione spoke with Reuters on his view for the best approach to eradicating malaria.

IV President and Chief Operating Officer Adriane Brown was appointed to both the Washington Research Foundation’s (WRF) and Allergan, Plc’s board of directors.

Global Good announced a new partnership with the Feinstein Institute and Sanguistat to find a solution to the leading cause of maternal deaths worldwide.

Young Minds, Big Ideas

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Here’s One Way We’re Celebrating Inventors This Thanksgiving

The time to gather around the table with food, family and friends to share what we’re thankful for is almost upon us. At IV, we’re taking our turn at the table to share a little early this year, as we express our gratitude for Inventors Digest – a publication committed to educating and inspiring inventors from all walks of life. The latest edition features wheelchairs transformed into dragons, Star Trek and an enduring champion for the small inventor. So this Thanksgiving – after the pumpkin pie – spend some time with these powerful stories of inventors and inventions that are transforming lives.  

Here’s One Way We’re Celebrating Inventors This Thanksgiving

Giving Thanks to Those that Give Back

This month’s issue highlights organizations that use the spirit of invention to help others. Among them is Magic Wheelchair, a nonprofit that builds Halloween costumes for children in wheelchairs. We should add that these “costumes” – far from your average Spiderman suit – are elaborate designs that incorporate each wheelchair in a big way. Past costumes include a mermaid riding a sea turtle, a Mickey Mouse train and a chef with a stovetop.  

Check out the full story to learn more about the “magic” wheelchairs putting a smile on the faces of kids throughout the nation, a UK organization fostering innovation to help people with sensory impairments, and even our own commitment at Intellectual Ventures to spark interest in science and STEM education. [PAGE 26]            

The Woman Who Started a Movement

In this month’s edition, you’ll also meet Joanne Hayes-Rines, a trailblazer who was one of the first editors of Inventors Digest and a passionate advocate for the American inventor. Her tenacious efforts to reform the U.S. patent system have made a lasting impact on the world of invention and it’s a story you don’t want to miss. [PAGE 22]

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