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17.2 Getting finance and organisational backing

Like talk, ideas are cheap. Even generating a prototype of an invention can be cheap compared with the resources needed to produce and market an innovation. The independent inventor or designer is likely to have to rely on family and friends for financial backing, particularly in the early stages. Seed capital is sometimes available in the form of innovation grants from government bodies, such as the Department for Trade and Industry in the UK, which offers development funding to individuals
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16 Part 3: Innovation

As you've seen above, many inventors have discovered that innovation – getting their ideas made and sold – is harder than invention. To bring an invention to the market there are a number of obstacles to overcome – technical, financial and organisational. The invention has to be made using appropriate materials and manufacturing processes depending on the nature of the product and the numbers required. Then, once an innovation is available to potential buyers, there are a number of fact
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15 Part 2: 6 Key points of Part 2

  • Individuals are motivated to invent by one or more factors: curiosity; constructive discontent about a product; a desire to help others; a desire to make money.

  • Organisations invent for a number of reasons: business strategy; the need to improve existing products and processes; new materials become available, as do technologies and manufacturing processes; government policy, legislation and regulations.

  • The process of invention
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13 Part 2: 4 Preparing for innovation

Many inventors have said that having the idea for an invention is the easy part. This is often demonstrated by the frequency of examples of simultaneous invention. At one exhibition of inventions I attended there were three separate portable ladders to escape from fires, two systems for using rainwater to flush toilets, two types of portable vehicle wheel clamp, and two methods of reducing red-eye in flash photography. In most cases of technological innovation only one of the competing techno
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11.7 Characteristics of inventors

In their classic book The Sources of Invention (1969) John Jewkes, David Sawers and Richard Stillerman observe the following about inventors, whether working outside or inside an organisation.

  • Inventors tend to be absorbed with their own ideas and to feel strongly about their importance and potential.

  • Inventors can be impatient with those who don't share their optimism.

  • Inventors are often isolated because they are
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11.5.2 Transfer

Transfer is where a technology, manufacturing process or material is transferred to another field to provide the basis for an invention. Earlier we saw how laser technology, originally thought to have few practical uses, was transferred to a variety of different applications including surgery, welding and cutting metal, bar-code readers, and audio CDs.


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11.5 Step 4 – act of insight

Suddenly an insight suggests a solution, or the means of achieving a solution, to the inventor. Legendary examples include Newton observing an apple falling from a tree and having his insight into the laws of gravitation or Archimedes leaping from his bath and running naked through the streets shouting ‘Eureka!’ (‘I've found it!’). These vivid images point to the fact that creative ideas can occur when someone is not consciously trying to solve a problem.

These acts of insight a
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Learning outcomes

After reading this unit you should be able to:

  • appreciate diagrams as a powerful aid to thinking and acting;

  • distinguish between systems diagrams and diagrams helpful in systems work;

  • demonstrate sufficient skills to ‘read’ and ‘draw’ a wide range of diagrams, following given conventions, that help improve your understanding of a situation;

  • select diagrams suited to the needs of the situation you are investigating and the purp
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13 Products for markets

Japanese car companies came to dominate in many countries in the 1980s, and this was in part attributable to their marketing research and emphasis on designing products for particular market segments. An example is the car firm Nissan, which researches national preferences for various car attributes in different countries. For instance, it is reputed to have provided its cars with softer suspensions in Germany, firmer steering in the UK, and noisier exhausts in Italy. There are other reasons
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9.1.5 Immersion

Click on the 'View document' link below to read Jordan on 'Immersion'.

View document16.1KB PDF document<
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9.1.4 Take a trip to the payphone

Click on the 'View document' link below to read 'Take a trip to the payphone'.

View document14.6KB PDF document
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8.1.3 Affordance

A third key design feature for usability is affordance – this more difficult concept is related to the functions that a product offers, or affords, to its users. Some affordances are real – for example a handle on a portable machine. Some are perceived affordances – these can be more relevant in computerised products, which have more complex and dynamic means of interaction with the user. For these products, it is important for the designer to help the user to perceive jus
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8.1.2 Feedback

A second important principle is providing feedback to the user – for example, when you press a button it moves and clicks, or you hear some other sound or you see a light to indicate the action has been registered by the machine.

Here's another short video clip from Phillip Joe at IDEO, this time on feedback.

8.1.1 Visibility

Recall that a key usability design feature identified by Donald Norman – from his analysis of using everyday objects such as doors – was visibility. An everyday object such as a door, or a control such as a button on a product should appear to be obvious about how it is used, and indeed it should perform that obvious function. For example, is it obvious how you insert a disc into a player? Is it obvious how you switch the machine on, adjust volume, and so on?


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6 Inclusive design

This section reveals the importance of designing things to suit all potential users.

Inclusive design (or universal design) means designing products so that they can be used easily by as many people as wish to do so. This may sound an obvious goal, but the fact is that many people – some estimates suggest as many as one-fifth of all adults – have difficulty carrying out ordinary tasks with everyday products.

Many elderly and disabled people cannot carry out – certainly with
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5.2 Preliminary treatment

The abstracted water is first screened to remove suspended and floating debris, such as leaves or branches, which could interfere with the operation of machinery in the treatment works. The water may then enter a preliminary settlement tank or storage reservoir. It then passes through screens again and goes to the treatment works. Screens may be classified by the size of their openings as coarse or fine, and may be in the forms of bars or continuous belts. Coarse screens are u
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3.5.4 Fungi

Fungi (e.g. species such as Streptomycin which are used for manufacture of antibiotics, and yeast) are generally unicellular non-photosynthetic organisms which can tolerate acid conditions. They are capable of degrading highly complex organic compounds. They utilise much the same food sources as bacteria but they require less nitrogen since their protein content is lower. Fungi play an important role in sewage treatment.

In polluted water, particularly near to a
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2.2 Evaporation

At an interface with the atmosphere, water changes its state from a liquid to a vapour in response to an increase in temperature caused by an external heat source. This temperature change is normally the result of solar radiation. The transfer of moisture into the air is called evaporation. The process is also controlled by the relative humidity, or level of vapour saturation, of the air. The greater the relative humidity of the air, the less likely it is that evaporation will take place for
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1 Some facts about water

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