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IV Partner Update: REFLX

In October 2014 IV entered into a strategic partnership with Reflx Labs to innovate new applications of Boogio and expand Reflx's IP portfolio and position. Jose Torres, the co-founder and CEO of Reflx Labs, discusses the company’s recent momentum and ongoing partnership with IV.

Reflx Labs develops technologies for human instrumentation in order to better understand and characterize the body through sensor data. We are currently working on Boogio, a wearable technology for your feet. Boogio is a pair of tiny computers with thin sensors that you install in any shoe. Boogio also accurately captures body mechanics and can sense balance, force, and 3d movement of the foot. The core technology has applications in virtual reality, training, rehab, and enterprise solutions. 

Last month at the IoT World conference, we announced a partnership with Samsung to help launch the ARTIK family of IoT-ready modules. The chips will power small things, like wearables, to much larger systems, like buildings and farms. Boogio is developing with ARTIK-1, an ultra low powered module on a chip the size of a ladybug, to build the next generation of our hardware. During the keynote with Samsung, President Young Sohn invited me on stage to showcase Boogio and announce our partnership with Florida Hospital to improve pediatric rehabilitation (see 31:34 mark).

The ongoing collaboration with Florida Hospital will explore how to utilize the technology in digital health and capitalize on meaningful engagement with the patient within and outside the hospital walls. We hope to build on this biomechanical data and apply it to other areas including advanced athletic training or more immersive virtual reality experiences.

Image of the Boogio Status Monitor.

The next revolution of computing is already in the US, and as wearable sensors become commodity technology they will reach broader consumer markets and impact most people on the planet. The personal nature of wearable technology also means that culture and location have significant impact on the technology’s value proposition, and determine which applications will gain local marketplace acceptance.

Because Boogio is on the leading edge of technology commercialization, we are leveraging IV's global inventor network to solve challenges and explore applications worldwide. This network of geographically and culturally diverse, visionary thinkers can help bring a holistic approach to rapidly advancing adoption of Boogio’s technology worldwide.

Sign up at https://boogio.com/ to be the first to try Boogio. More information about the opportunity to invent for Intellectual Ventures can be found at: http://ivin.intven.com.


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Founding Fathers: Revolutionary Inventors

This Fourth of July marks 239 years since the Founding Fathers declared independence from Great Britain. Eleven years later, they drafted the United States Constitution. There’s no doubt that these achievements are historic – many would say legendary.

But our Founding Fathers were revolutionary in more ways than one. That’s why, in honor of Independence Day, we’d like to highlight a few of the Founding Fathers who not only thought of the constitutional Patent Clause, the foundation of the American IP system, but also proudly invented prolifically.

Benjamin Franklin

An expert in numerous subjects, Benjamin Franklin was truly a renaissance man. And one of his interests, electricity, produced a groundbreaking technology – the lighting rod. At the time, scientists only theorized that lightning bolts were made of electricity, and Mr. Franklin made it his goal to confirm the hypothesis.

The invention of the lightning rod not only confirmed that lightning was electric, but also proved to be pivotal for the protection of buildings and other structures. His design was so impressive that the next generation of lightning rods weren’t created until more than 150 years later when Nikola Tesla patented an improvement. That’s quite an impressive feat, even for someone who invented groundbreaking stoves, bifocal glasses, and numerous other innovations.

George Washington

The Continental Army’s Commander-in-Chief and our nation’s first president isn’t often thought of as an inventor. But as a farmer, George Washington always looked for ways to improve efficiency on his 8,000 acre estate. At the time, separating grain from stalk was an arduous task. The easiest method involved letting horses literally trample the grain. Though this method was faster, it was still inefficient. So Washington invented the 16-sided-barn, a two-story structure that left spaces between the floorboards on the second floor. That way when the horses trampled the grain, the separated product fell through the granary to the bottom floor. There it was stored, winnowed, and shipped to the mill for processing. The result was a machine-like increase in efficiency. Why 16-sides? Washington wanted a circle for the horses to run around, coupled with a design that provided an easier build.

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine’s major achievements include designing the second iron bridge in human history. He also developed a smokeless candle and worked on early engine designs. These are incredible feats, especially for someone who was already the best-selling American author of the era. Paine’s revolutionary pamphlet, Common Sense, sold 120,000 copies in its first three months of publication. To put that in perspective, the nation’s population at the time was just three million. We think it’s certainly not a stretch to call Mr. Paine one of the most innovative Founding Fathers!

Want to learn more about American invention and innovation? Check out the Men of Progress painting, a famous tribute to some of the 19th century’s greatest minds. And don’t forget to ride along as we profile some of the best and brightest innovators of the modern world. Happy Fourth of July!

 


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Town Hall Seattle Recap: Nathan Myhrvold and Richard Thaler Discuss Behavioral Economics

Last month, IV founder and CEO Nathan Myhrvold met up with renowned behavioral economist Richard Thaler at Town Hall Seattle to discuss Thaler’s theories about how people, not “rational actors,” drive real-world economics.

The two had a lively discussion that’s well worth the listen. You can listen to the program in Town Hall Seattle's media library here: http://townhallseattle.org/event/richard-thaler/.

Unlike traditional economics, Thaler’s work seeks to incorporate human nature – including willpower, preference, and error. His most recent book, Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics, tells the story of his relatively young field.

During their wide-ranging discussion, Nathan and Thaler addressed questions like:

  • Can economics be a science – like physics – or is it more like engineering?
  • How do “supposedly irrelevant factors,” like automatically opting-in employees to a retirement plan instead of asking them whether or not they want to enroll, impact rational behavior?
  • Why does pricing an object at $5.99 instead of $6.00 impact purchasing behavior?

and,

  • When does economics work best?

To hear their take on these questions and more, listen to the audio above. And if you’re interested in hearing more from Nathan, check out his recent commencement speech at UCLA that, in part, deals with the importance of human fallibility.


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News You Can Use: Young Inventors Transforming Society

What comes to mind when someone says the word, “inventor?” Do you picture white coats and large laboratories? Maybe someone standing at a table pouring different-colored liquids into flasks? And yes, some inventors might actually match these characteristics. But, on the whole, the truth is that inventors come in all different shapes and sizes. In fact, some game-changing inventors are just beginning their innovative careers. For this edition of News You Can Use, we’ve profiled a few stories about exciting young inventors who are truly changing the world.  

20-Year-Old Invents Ocean-Cleaning Device

Boyan Slat is helping to clean up the ocean like never before. Only 20, he devised a system of floating plastic barriers that holds a net-like device and has the potential to remove more than 70 million kilograms of plastic waste in just 10 years. And it’s not only removing waste, it’s also breaking records – the 6,500-foot-wide apparatus has been labeled the longest floating structure to ever be put in the ocean. Oh, and Slat’s project is all part of the nonprofit he runs, Ocean Cleanup. And all of this at the age of 20.

17-Year-Old Invents Wound-Healing Gel

Joe Landolina invented VetiGel, an algae-based polymer that stops bleeding from an open wound in seconds, when he was only 17 and still in high school. He used his grandfather’s lab to experiment and perfect the product. Today, at 22, he’s the cofounder and CEO of Suneris, a biotechnology company that produces the gel. The potential for this product is vast and Landolina hopes to start human trials within the year. And yes, we swear he’s only 22.

Graduate Student Invents Incubator for Developing World

Jane Chen was a 20-something Stanford graduate student when she helped to invent an incubator that treats babies born prematurely. This technology already existed of course, but the genius of Chen’s creation is its affordability – less than 1 percent of the cost compared to most incubators. This device has been game changing from the beginning, with 150,000 preterm infants saved thus far in developing countries across the world.

Like these inventors, IV founder and CEO Nathan Myhrvold got his start at a young age – he graduated from college with multiple degrees when he was only 20. But as Nathan pointed out in his recent commencement speech at UCLA, the road to success is rarely direct. Check out the full speech, where he encourages graduates to embrace and learn from failure to achieve their goals.

News You Can Use

Intellectual Ventures regularly shares roundups of invention and intellectual property news. To read the other posts in this series, see below:


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Reuters Reports: Innovation is at an all-time high

At IV, we believe that innovation, intellectual property, and a thriving economy are all interconnected. We aren’t alone. The “2015 State of Innovation” report from Thomson Reuters explains the importance of innovation for a growing economic future. “Innovation is global and is at the heart of the global economy,” the report says. But that’s not all. The report also makes clear that intellectual property, and specifically patents, are vital instruments for companies and the economies they benefit.

Image courtesy of Thomson Reuters. Their full report can be viewed here.

Here are some more details and quotes from the report:

Companies increasingly invest in innovation:

“Innovation is at an all-time high.”

This is important. The more companies that consistently invest in innovation, the greater likelihood of new findings to improve society and change the world. At IV, we use an innovative spirit to develop novel technologies to fight Ebola, eliminate Malaria, and so much more.

Patents are an asset class:

“Patent information has become an increasingly strong indicator of a company’s value, especially as companies work to reduce their time-to-market cycles.”

Adriane Brown, IV’s President and COO, expands upon this point by explaining that the vast majority of C-suite executives believe that patents are good for innovation. We’ve even personally profiled an industry executive who explains why intellectual property is an “intangible asset” for business growth.

Collaboration is key to innovation:

“Open innovation is alive and well, backed by the proof that companies across nearly every sector are collaborating with academic institutions, individual researchers and others to bring their ideas to market more quickly. Given the fast pace of global innovation, it is no longer possible for individual organizations to innovate solely on their own. By leveraging that which has been done before and partnering with organizations that may solve for one aspect of an invention, companies are able to go to market more quickly and meet consumer demand for faster innovation time cycles.”

We couldn’t agree more. That’s why IV utilizes innovative collaboration every single day, partnering with inventors, clients, and our extended team in our quest to invent meaningful solutions.

Intellectual diversity drives innovation:

“The final innovation trend identified is the bleeding of organizations into tangential areas, outside of their traditional areas of expertise. Driven by the Internet of Things, the need to remain competitive and the quest to exceed shareholder expectations, more and more companies are extending their reach into related fields, bringing their unique specialization to new areas.”

“Unusual combinations” should probably be our middle name. We believe that an interdisciplinary model of innovation produces huge benefits. That’s exactly why we promote invention inside and outside of the lab through our army of innovators who often participate in our intellectually diverse invention sessions.

Want to learn more? Check out our Behind the Breakthrough series to hear first-hand from IV inventors and innovators about the importance of innovating for the future. 


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Behind the Breakthrough: Deb Peat

This week’s Behind the Breakthrough features Deb Peat, an adventurous and talented program manager at IV. Deb’s extensive background in marine geophysics and remote sensing has taken her to all corners of the planet. Her impressive credentials include partnering with a spinout from the University of Hawaii to help the telecommunications industry map the numerous fiber optic cables across the sea floor. Deb’s experiences allow her to work with both inventors and the management team to drive the next breakthroughs.

Here are some of her reflections:

On her role at IV:

“As a program manager, I like to think of my role as the bridge between the business and technical spaces. Essentially, I support the business needs of IV Lab projects and executive management at the same time. Program management here is somewhat improvisational and many of the interesting bits are the things that arise unexpectedly.”

On her background:

“My experience as a Hurricane Island Outward Bound (HIOB) instructor endorsed a spirit of service, self-reliance, and tenacity. That experience led to a stint in Labrador on a vessel supporting geologists and even surviving a hurricane north of the Arctic Circle. This sharpened my focus and academic direction. After school, I spent some time in oil exploration in South America, and then working for the Department of Defense in antisubmarine warfare only to wake up one day and ask myself, ‘How did I get here?’

“From there I spent many years in marine geophysics, navigating from data processor/cartographer to eventually running a company. Later I helped open two North American offices for a Hong Kong competitor. The offices opened at about the same time as the BP oil spill, which put us at the epicenter of the disaster to support mapping gas bubbles in the water column. It was a lot of risk to manage with high stakes visibility.”

On what she brings to IV:

“When I decided to change careers, I had to think about what I could bring to an organization like IV Lab. I already knew that the caliber of intellect in the organization would be awesome and plentiful. I realized that my management skills and experience would be beneficial. I’ve always been highly organized and that mixed with a deep need for efficiency, strategic thinking, and a desire to make things work allows me feel relevant here.”

Follow our Behind the Breakthrough series by subscribing to our IV Insights blog, and check out more quotes from inventors and scientists on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.


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Our Favorite Quotes from Nathan’s Commencement Speech

This past weekend, IV founder and CEO Nathan Myhrvold addressed UCLA’s 2015 graduation as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. In his speech, Nathan encouraged graduates to take chances and embrace failure.

“I think I’m here because of all my failures,” Nathan said. “Now that sounds weird. But it turns out that if you try to do anything interesting or hard in life, you’re going to fail sometimes. And I think one of the most important aspects of life is how you cope with failures.”

Video courtesy of UCLA. For Nathan’s remarks, please see the 1:19 mark.

 

For Nathan, the commencement was an opportunity to return to a school where he earned both a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s degree in geophysics and space physics.

Here are a few of our favorite quotes from his speech:

“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.”

“The most common approach to learning is called “trial and error.” Notice that it isn’t called trial and success.”

“Failure was an option. We even took that option, but we also found a way to make it work anyway.”

“Most advice on failure, including some of mine, is about how to persevere and continue to push ahead even in the face of failure. That is good advice but part of learning from failure is to step back and think. Sometimes that means not pressing on.”

“If you are beating your head against a wall, think about it a bit. Maybe give the wall a couple more good hard whacks. But then maybe you should find a softer spot on the wall. It’s fine to flirt with failure, but try not to fall in love.”

“A car has a very large windshield, and a very small rear view mirror. You need both, but the relative size is important – the things in front of you are much more important than those behind.”  

To hear more from Nathan on mentorship, check out what he had to say last year about his mentor, Stephen Hawking. And to learn more about Nathan’s many curiosities, take a look at The Economist’s article about him, “The Myth Buster.”


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Staff Spotlight: Dan Lieberman

Today we’re highlighting Dan Lieberman, a mechanical engineer and project lead at the Intellectual Ventures Laboratory. Dan’s background in the science of explosions gives him the unique ability to distill complex problems to their core elements and solve them in a quick and meaningful way.

Staff Spotlight: Dan Lieberman

On his background:

“As a student in college, I gained a lot of experience in McGill University’s Shock Wave Physics Lab. That’s actually where I began my journey studying the science of rockets. After that, I earned my PhD at Caltech in the Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories. I carried out several high-speed-chemical-reacting-flow projects including researching novel methods to ignite detonations in a Pulse Detonation Engine (basically a supersonic combustion equivalent to the V-1 “buzz bomb”).

“My early career involved trying to avoid explosions, instead of my previous experience harnessing them. I’d describe it as CSI but it takes more than 42 minutes to figure out what happened. I investigated all sorts of incidents that resulted in a fire or explosion including the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.”

On what led him to IV:

“I remember first reading about the Intellectual Ventures Laboratory in Freakonomics and being drawn to the type of work and the unique business approach. It wasn’t until a few years later, when I was thinking about a career shift that they came back into focus and somewhat haphazardly popped up on a web search. I’m glad things worked out because working at IV Lab and living in the Pacific Northwest has been a very enjoyable and stimulating experience so far!”

On what he does at IV Lab:

“I have the enjoyable task of trying to improve lives in the developing world with technology. Most of my effort is spent identifying problems that merit a technical response and then going about trying to solve them. Right now I’m co-leading an effort to improve artificial insemination outcomes of dairy cattle (check out the blog post). I’m also looking at technology approaches to help increase the availability of oxygen to children with pneumonia – the leading cause of death for children under five.”

On what inspires him most about his work:

“Nothing inspires me more than a bunch of problems that need solving. And boy do we have plenty of those! I also love the broad range of skills we have in house and how, like a set of golf clubs, they can be used together to produce a result no single one can do. For the record – I don’t golf so that may not be true but you get my point. IV Lab is a very motivating environment; I dare say it is FUN!”

If you’d like to learn more about Dan and his work at IV, check out the Lab’s original interview.

Want to hear from other innovative scientists and inventors? Check out our Behind the Breakthrough series.

 


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Reflecting on National Inventors’ Month

I’d like to reflect on the positive impact of inventors and their contributions to society now that National Inventors’ Month is officially over. Thomas Edison, though controversial, was our nation’s most prolific inventor with 1,093 patents to his name. A key to Edison’s success was his ability to harness the power of his team. He believed collaboration powers innovation and would often host midnight lunches with his “muckers” to share insights, brainstorm ideas, and build comradery amongst his diverse team.  

IV, like Edison, depends on collaboration to get things done. We partner with inventors, clients and our extended team in our quest to invent meaningful solutions. This ability to collaborate is even more important today as our global society takes on the insatiable desire to increase speed, efficiency and capabilities – and that spans everything from breakthroughs in computing power to global health. As Nathan Myhrvold said in his recent CNN interview regarding the Arktek Passive Vaccine Storage Device, “There’s a lot of heroes in the Ebola story … but we did our part.” And that’s what IV does – our part – to bring people together to invent solutions to all sorts of challenges.

The Invention Science Fund’s Invention Sessions are an excellent example of how we enable a unique type of collaboration. We assemble experts from diverse fields to tackle a particular problem. Working together, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts that each participant brings to the session. This process has proven successful time and again, generating thousands of patent applications and more than 1,500 issued patents.

The Invention Development Fund enables broad collaboration via the IV Inventor Network (IVIN) with more than 4,000 active inventors and 400 institutions. We obviously don’t bring them all together in a room like ISF does. We instead provide the framework for a type of asynchronous collaboration between the network of vetted inventors and the commercially valuable problems that are identified. A key piece of this is how IV translates the customers’ gap into actionable Requests for Invention (RFIs) for inventors to tackle, which has yielded thousands of patent applications and nearly 1,900 issued patents.

The world has changed significantly in the 80+ years since Edison’s death, with more than 7 million US patents granted since then. I’m proud to celebrate National Inventors’ Month honoring the work IV has done to build a tremendous portfolio of 40,000 IP assets, including the thousands from our inventing funds.

Happy National Inventors’ Month, indeed!


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Humble Beginnings to Pioneer Scientist: Mildred Dresselhaus

Inventors and scientists change our world for the better every single day. At IV, we know that their hard work takes time, commitment, and focus. Mildred Dresselhaus exemplifies these qualities and so much more. Her accomplishments are vast and her career is extraordinary.

Want to learn more about Mildred? Check out IV Labs tribute to her. We also profile other innovative scientists and inventors regularly on our Behind the Breakthrough series.

Later this month, Mildred Dresselhaus will be the first woman to receive the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Medal of Honor. This award is yet another accomplishment of a prolific scientist who has beat the odds over and over again.

Mildred grew up in a poor Bronx neighborhood during the Great Depression. Her original primary school was struggling. But Mildred’s love for music brought her to the prestigious Greenwich House music school. Though she stopped taking lessons there as a teen, the motivated peers she met at Greenwich helped her realize the importance of education. Eventually she was granted admission to Hunter College High School and ultimately Hunter College, which opened Mildred’s eyes to the possibility of a career in science.

But Mildred faced an uphill battle: men dominated the science and engineering fields. Women were truly a rarity. In fact, Mildred spent much of her educational career as the only woman in her classes. Yet she kept at her goal of a scientific career and against all odds earned a PhD at the University of Chicago.

The rest, you might say, is history. Mildred, now 84, is today considered a leading woman pioneer of science. She is one of the most prominent physicists, material scientists, and electrical engineers of her generation. Her life’s work has focused on deepening the understanding of condensed matter systems and the atomic properties of carbon, contributing to major advances in electronics and materials research. She’s even the laid the foundation for the future of carbon-based technologies, which have the potential to transform computing and increase energy storage capacity. It’s no wonder her nickname is the “Queen of Carbon.”

Mildred’s IEEE award this month certainly isn’t her first major honor. In 2014, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama, who said, “Her influence is all around us, in the cars we drive, the energy we generate, the electronic devices that power our lives.”

Learn about IV’s extensive team of innovators who dedicate themselves to making a positive impact on society.


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Adriane Brown

Adriane Brown

Adriane Brown is the President and COO of Intellectual Ventures.

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IV partner @reflxlabs uses our #inventor network to innovate Boogio, a revolutionary wearable foot sensor: ow.ly/PisfO

Jul 07

Still in the #July4th state of mind? Check out our Insights blog to see #inventions from our #FoundingFathers. ow.ly/P34xS

Jul 06

Washington, DC, was a hotspot of scientific innovation in the 1870s. Just ask Alexander Bell: bit.ly/bellindc1 pic.twitter.com/zlNe0ccTRN

Jul 05