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Must-See Invention Movies for the Dog Days of Summer

Courage in the face of adversity, tenacity when the goal seems impossible and an undying commitment to progress – break out the popcorn and take in the inspiration, because inventors’ stories make for fantastic movies. Read on for some of our favorite invention movies – and then kick back and watch their trailers. 

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything” depicts the remarkable life of one of the world’s most brilliant astrophysicists (and mentor to Nathan Myhrvold), Stephen Hawking.

The movie offers stunning detail on a life story that’s familiar to many – how Hawking, after being diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and given less than three years to live, defied the odds to make groundbreaking contributions that help the world understand the universe around us.

Throughout his life, Hawking has been a husband, a father, a best-selling author, a renowned mathematics professor, an astrophysicist and, of course, an inventor in his own right. He was the first to set forth a theory of cosmology explained by the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.

Read the full story »

Inventing for Impact… Literally

The problem of head trauma in football is getting lots of attention – and for good reason. Stories of professional players’ suffering the effects of years of brain injury populate the news, and statistics show that even young players aren’t immune.

Inventing for Impact… Literally

While it’s still unclear whether helmet technology can ever prevent concussions, inventors are hard at work on new technologies that could make football safer. In the August issue of Inventors Digest, these inventions take center stage. Be sure to check out the full stories, available digitally here

What’s happening to the helmet?

Helmets are designed, in theory, to reduce brain injuries. But, as IPWatchdog’s Gene Quinn and Steve Brachmann write, current versions reliably protect against blunt impact but offer precious little protection against the conditions that lead to serious injury.

A cadre of inventors and start-up companies are working to develop new technologies that may be able to start mitigating head trauma in football. Their innovative ideas range from a helmet featuring self-recovering airbags, to a device that increases the amount of blood in the cranium so that the brain fits more tightly within the skull, to a two-layer helmet that rotates to help lessen impact from rapid twisting and torsion.

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The Next Generation of STEM Superheroes: Meet Ayantu, Ray and Aisha

Superheroes venture into unexplored territory, overcome obstacles, and improve the world around them. At the Intellectual Ventures Lab, we think of ourselves in a similar way. Using our science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) superpowers, we invent real-life gadgets that could save and improve the lives of millions of people across the planet. 

The Next Generation of STEM Superheroes: Meet Ayantu, Ray and Aisha

Future STEM heroes visit the Intellectual Ventures Lab.

We were excited to recently host a group of 60 STEM superheroes-in-training from across the Seattle area. These high school juniors are part of the University of Washington’s Math Science Upward Bound program and are exploring careers in the sciences and engineering. The students toured our electronics, optics, mechanical engineering and biotech labs, learning about some of the nifty gadgets we’re developing in our not-so-secret lair – technologies like Arktek, a super thermos that uses space technology to keep life-saving vaccines cool as they are transported to children in remote areas, and the Autoscope, an automated microscope that uses artificial intelligence to detect malaria in areas with few trained microscopists.

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Colin McNelis, 17, Invents to Solve Your Problems

Ever had your phone charger bite the dust at the most inopportune moment? Tempted fate with a partial charge because you didn’t have enough time wait for a full battery? Colin McNelis has a solution for that – and he’s only 17.

Colin McNelis, 17, Invents to Solve Your Problems

During his visit, Colin enjoyed a tour of the IV Lab with his mother, Bernadette (center), as well as meeting with Adriane Brown, President and COO (bottom right).

Colin won the IV Insightful Invention Award for his new cell phone charger adapter that prevents wire stress and increases charge speed at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) held in Dublin, Ireland earlier this year. After hosting him at our Bellevue headquarters this past week and witnessing his inventive spirit for ourselves, we’re sure this isn’t the last you’ll hear from Colin.  

Throughout the day, Colin shared his prototype and discussed his patent application with a wide range of individuals at IV including President and COO, Adriane Brown. We also took some time to talk to Colin about his hopes for the future and advice to young innovators. Here’s what he had to say:

What technological breakthrough would you like to see in your lifetime?

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IV’s Favorite Inventions: Fire Hoses

Antique fire hoses on display at IV's Bellevue headquarters Two of the most powerful natural elements on Earth are arguably water and fire. What can stand between these two elements is often simply a tube — that is, a fire hose. Intellectual Ventures has several antique fire nozzles on display at our Bellevue headquarters, and this invention’s unique ability to connect two dominant forces makes it one of IV’s favorites.

IV’s Favorite Inventions: Fire Hoses

We’ve probably all seen the photos in our history books of townspeople passing buckets of water back and forth to douse a house fire. There were few other options for firefighting until Jan van der Heyden –widely known as a painter – and his brother Nicolaes invented a new fire hose in the early 1670s. Their hose was 50 feet long, created from leather tubes sewn together, and attached to gooseneck nozzles on engines that pushed through water. However, the Heyden hose and many of the hoses that followed were often heavy, cumbersome, and unstable.

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Failing for Success: Henry A. Ford

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry A. Ford

Failing for Success: Henry A. Ford

Henry Ford, standing, and Barney Oldfield in 1902, via Wikimedia Commons.

Henry Ford is one of the most renowned entrepreneurs in history. He optimized transportation and forever changed the United States automobile industry. His innovative manufacturing process produced low-cost, reliable vehicles, while simultaneously keeping his workers well-paid and loyal.

Before his success, however, Ford encountered failure during initial production of his first automobile. His investors got cold feet over Ford’s meticulousness, and he was unable to find solid financial backing for the automobile in his first two ventures. Nonetheless, Ford used the lessons from these failures to instruct his future success as an inventor and a businessman.

William H. Murphy Folds…Twice

Once Ford created the Quadricycle, an automobile prototype, he needed funding to start work on enhancing it. Capital was difficult to attain, however, and in the late 1800s no one had established a standard business model for the automobile industry. Ford convinced William H. Murphy, a Detroit businessman, to back his automobile production. The Detroit Automobile Company resulted from this union, but problems arose shortly after its creation. In 1901, a year and a half after the company began operations, Murphy and the shareholders got restless. Ford wanted to create the perfect automobile design, but the board saw little results. Soon after, they dissolved the company.

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Igniting Curiosity in Discovery: Pacific Science Center and the Festival of the Fountains

As a company committed to fostering a culture of innovation, we’re always looking for ways to support that same enthusiasm throughout the communities in which we live, work and play. On July 22, 2016 a group from Intellectual Ventures (IV) joined in the celebration at the 50th annual Festival of the Fountains under the historic arches of the Pacific Science Center to do just that. 

Igniting Curiosity in Discovery: Pacific Science Center and the Festival of the Fountains

Photo credit: Seattle Met, view the photo album here.

More than 500 people attended the gala which brings together members throughout the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) community to celebrate the Science Center’s mission to inspire a lifelong interest in science, math and technology for all.

IV is proud to be a longstanding supporter of the Science Center, with our president and COO Adriane Brown serving as the secretary of the board of directors. Most recently, Adriane served as the event chair for the 13th annual Foundations of Science Breakfast, to help raise over $300,000 for the Science Center to continue their work to empower tomorrow’s innovators for generations to come.

Inspiring the next generation of inventors – and STEM advocates – is a shared passion of Adriane, IV and the Pacific Science Center. As Adriane once told a classroom of young women:

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News You Can Use: One Small Step for Man…

As founder and CEO Nathan Myhrvold remarks, “Inventions are the foundation of all technology.” The stories we’re loving this month offer the inspiration for amazing achievements – as grand as putting a man on the moon 47 years ago – made possible through the power of the idea. Check out some of the links we’re loving from July.

News You Can Use: One Small Step for Man…

Technology to Change the World

We were thrilled – but not surprised – to see Washington state ranked top in the nation for technology. Bonus: The article features an image from our very own IV Lab.

Metamaterials spinout Evolv demonstrated its groundbreaking technology with the promise to prevent mass casualty events. Check out the video on CNBC.

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.

The People Behind the Idea

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The Intellectual Ventures Story – In 2 Minutes and 12 Seconds

“Inventions are the foundation of all technology. Almost every invention required a passionate advocate. Someone who championed the idea. Because as long as people have been inventing, there’s been someone who has said, ah, it’ll never work!” Nathan Myhrvold, founder and CEO.

At Intellectual Ventures, we challenge assumptions. Our cross-disciplinary approach affords us the opportunity to work with leading inventors and pioneering companies to find creative solutions to some of the world’s hardest problems. We provide the world’s most innovative companies with valuable patents and invention-related services. And above all else, we have a passion for invention that drives us forward.

In our new “about us” video, hear from some of our founders, executives and in-house principal investigators on how we nurture ideas to spark change.

We’re proud to be a global inventions company. Join us on this exciting journey.

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Exploration at the Heart of Invention

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 reached the moon. 47 years ago, man took his first steps there. Today we’re reminded of how fast technology can develop in the right environment and the distance that invention can take us when inventors, investors, big and small companies, governments, universities and communities work together. 

Edward Jung, IV founder and CTO, calls the Apollo program a historical example of the impact of collaborative invention:

 “The Apollo space program created a $25 billion (more than $150B in today’s dollars!) innovation economy and put a man on the moon in less than a decade — thanks to the cooperation of government and industry, the individual and the team.”

To give this accomplishment more context, travel back with us seven years before 1969 to 1962, when President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech at Rice University in Houston, TX.

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