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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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IV’s Favorite Inventions: Cipher Machines

If you ever visit Intellectual Ventures’ offices, you’ll notice that a few interesting inventions make their homes in our hallways. One of these looks like a typical typewriter — in fact, you would likely pass by it without a second glance, if you noticed it at all.

IV’s Favorite Inventions: Cipher Machines

But beneath its unexceptional appearance lies a technology that is anything but ordinary. This is an example of a T-52 cipher machine.

No, we’re not talking about the villain from the Matrix movies. A cipher, more or less, is an algorithm used to encrypt a message. In order to fully appreciate the T-52, let’s take a journey through the evolution of this invention.

One of the earliest recorded ciphers is the Caesar shift cipher, which as legend has it, was used by Julius Caesar in his private messages. To illustrate this cipher’s process, let’s look at a simple message: HELLO WORLD. If the letters are shifted by one place in the alphabet, they read: IFMMP XPSME. This is a message encrypted with a Caesar shift of one place.

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How Do You Keep Vaccines Cool? (Hint: Look to Space)

The Arktek™, developed by a team at Intellectual Ventures Laboratory, can store a month’s supply of vaccines for a village of 6,000 people in 100 degree plus heat, without electricity. What’s the secret? Vacuum thermal insulation technology – the same technology that has been used to protect spacecraft from temperature extremes while in space and upon re-entry. 

How Do You Keep Vaccines Cool? (Hint: Look to Space)

An Arktek device is transported by camel in Ethiopia (2013). Credit: Shahim Yassin, Afar Pastoralists Development Association

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a paper detailing their Ebola vaccine trials in Sierra Leone, including the important role that the Arktek DF has played in distributing the vaccine to rural regions lacking power.

In the midst of the worst known Ebola outbreak in 2014, the World Health Organization and the CDC requested cold chain vaccine storage support for an Ebola vaccine trial taking place in Sierra Leone and Guinea. These remote, low-resource settings presented numerous challenges that were exacerbated by the need to store the Ebola vaccine at much lower temperatures (-76 to -112 degrees Fahrenheit / -60 to -80 degrees Celsius).

Of course, as inventors, we rarely decline an opportunity to tinker with our own inventions, especially if it helps us better respond to evolving challenges on the ground.

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Failing for Success: Nikola Tesla

“Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more.” – Nikola Tesla

Failing for Success: Nikola Tesla

By Dickenson V. Alley, Century Magazine photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Nikola Tesla: An inventive force of nature so great that 73 years after his death, he remains a household name and source of inspiration around the world. His technological developments have had incredible longevity; his alternating current (AC) is still the standard for global power transmission. Other inventions formed the basis of current technology, like the Tesla coil, which was used early on for some of the first radios. (The technology remains so cool and inspirational, IV Lab has one in its lobby.)

Tesla embraced the archetype of many inventors, brilliantly pursuing the expansion of knowledge. With such a zeal for progress comes at the price of inevitable failure. However, this failure did not lead him to discontinue his endeavors. In fact, Tesla used failure to guide subsequent experiments, eventually leading to a variety of successes.

Experiments in Colorado

Tesla moved to Colorado in 1899. There he theorized that the Earth was excellent conductor of electricity. To test this hypothesis, Tesla build a lab on his prairie land close to Colorado Springs. The lab’s structures included a 142-foot metal mast supporting a large copper ball. Although Tesla’s notes are not conclusive and despite this incredible investment in infrastructure, it is unlikely that Tesla’s Colorado Spring experiments succeeded to transmit a current. While he didn’t have the definitive success he may have wanted, Tesla used these experiments to learn and advance his program. Tesla would go back to New York to continue his experiments in search of further understanding currents and electricity – later making incredible breakthroughs.

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News You Can Use: June Edition

June was an exciting month for news. Intellectual Ventures founder and CEO Nathan Myhrvold shared his thoughts on how to make invention come to life at the Bloomberg Tech Conference, we celebrated National Dairy Month with a review of Global Good’s AI Shield, highlighted inspiring IV staff, and reviewed the state of global and American innovation. Check out some of the links we’re loving this June.

News You Can Use: June Edition

IV in the News

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

Edward Jung writes about China’s internet boom in MIT Technology Review.

Puget Sound Business Journal highlights two electrical engineering students at the University of Washington who worked with IV to develop a device to improve malaria diagnostics in the developing world.

Inventors

Fortune explains how Jon Sumroy, the creator of Mifold booster seats, raised nearly $2 million on Indiegogo to turn his idea into reality.

Innovation

CNBC profiles EnChroma, a company making glasses that help the colorblind to see colors.

Niume explains the technology behind a 3D printed cast that can help heal bones faster.

STEM News

Quartz notes that Dartmouth University became the first national research university to graduate more women than men from its undergraduate engineering program. 

Want more News You Can Use? Follow us on Twitter and get the good stuff in real time.

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Inventor Superhero: Dr. Forrest Bird

Last year, the world lost an extraordinary inventor superhero: Dr. Forrest Bird. His credits include improving the capabilities of American fighter pilots in World War II and inventing breathing devices that have saved countless people facing medical issues affecting their hearts and lungs, including Dr. Bird’s first wife. Dr. Bird was also an avid aviator, having earned his pilot’s certification by the age of 16. In what can only be described as an incredible historical coincidence, he even flew alongside the Hindenburg just hours before it tragically burst into flames in 1937.

Inventor Superhero: Dr. Forrest Bird

Photo courtesy of Jesse Hart, www.jessehartphotography.com

Inventor Superhero: Dr. Forrest Bird (1921-2015), aviator, inventor, engineer, and founder of Percussionaire Corporation.

Superpowers: Dr. Bird’s combination of piloting skills and engineering knowhow helped to improve high-altitude breathing capabilities during World War II, resulting in American pilots flying as high as 37,000 feet; 9,000 higher than before. Most of us would call it a day after that remarkable accomplishment, but not this superhero. He took what he learned in the war and created unique mechanical ventilators that replaced the iron lung, saved countless lives, and aided thousands with respiratory struggles.  

Cool Gadget: Baby Bird, the nickname for the first low-cost, mass-produced pediatric respirator, significantly reduced mortality rates of infants with respiratory problems.

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IV CEO Nathan Myhrvold Keynotes Bloomberg’s Top Tech Conference on Invention

Intellectual Ventures founder and CEO Nathan Myhrvold set the stage as the opening keynote interview with journalist Ashlee Vance during last week’s annual Bloomberg Technology Conference that focused on inventors and invention in San Francisco, CA.

IV CEO Nathan Myhrvold Keynotes Bloomberg’s Top Tech Conference on Invention

Nathan Myhrvold speaks with Ashlee Vance at the Bloomberg Technology Conference. Photo credit: Peter Prato

Featuring the likes of Omid Kordestani, Twitter Chairman; Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox; and Michelle Lee, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the conference set a spotlight on companies and tech luminaries from around the world striving to be more inventive and explored the cultures and environments that foster invention.

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Controlling Citrus Disease with the Photonic Fence

We’ve talked extensively about how Photonic Fence’s light-based technology could help control diseases like malaria or Zika. But the technology isn’t just for mosquitoes. IV Lab also sees a promising future in agriculture for the Photonic Fence, where diseases transmitted by insects can devastate crop production.

Controlling Citrus Disease with the Photonic Fence

In a recent study, IV Lab proved that the technology can effectively track and shoot down the Asian Citrus Psyllid, an insect that transmits citrus greening disease. The disease has severely impacted citrus production in Florida and around the world.

Check out the full post at the IV Lab blog for more details.

Citrus growers have relied on chemical insecticides to control the pest. But in recent years the bugs have begun to fight back by developing resistance to the powerful chemicals. Pesticides have also been shown to have negative health effects on humans and wildlife, making them fall further out of favor.

Instead, the Photonic Fence works in three phases:

Read the full story »

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