18.5 Government regulations and legislation

You saw earlier in Part 2 how governments can stimulate invention by providing incentives for manufacturers to develop new products. The example given was in the field of alternative fuel vehicles in the USA and Europe. As well as influencing the development of innovations, government legislation and regulations can also affect diffusion by creating conditions that encourage consumers to buy and use particular innovations.

In the UK the government has introduced a mixture of incentives
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18.2.1 Relative advantage

In order to succeed, an innovation has to be perceived as offering advantages relative to existing comparable products or services. For example, it has more chance of selling if it is cheaper to make and buy, does the job better or does something previously not possible, offers more features, is easier to use, or is reliable and safe. Relative advantage is sometimes called competitive advantage.

A good example is how the steady reduction in size and increase in efficiency of the electri
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17.3 Choosing appropriate materials and manufacturing process

The choice of materials and manufacturing process for a particular new product is an important aspect of the innovation process. It is not necessarily the case that the materials chosen for the early prototypes of an invention are those best suited for the larger-scale manufacture of the innovation. Choice of materials can affect the performance, quality and economic manufacture of most new products, so it's important to choose wisely.

While inventors and designers usually need to seek
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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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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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11.6 Step 5 – critical revision

Once a solution has been obtained it is then necessary to explore the extent to which it effectively solves the problem and where necessary revise it. Although more attention has been given to the moment of inspiration during the act of insight than to any other stage of invention, it is this process of critical revision that is usually the longest, most difficult and costly stage.

Genius is 1 per cent inspirati
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11.5.4 Analogy

Analogy draws on similar situations to provide ideas for invention and design. Alexander Graham Bell used the analogy of the human ear when designing telephone apparatus to receive sound. As mentioned above, his first receivers were much better than his transmitters where the analogy with the ear didn't work as well. When devising their flying machine, the Wright brothers used the analogy of soaring birds twisting their wings to restore balance. They designed the wings of their aircraft to be
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11.1 Five steps to invention

I've looked at what motivates people and organisations to invent. I'll look more closely now at what's actually involved in inventing something.

Wherever invention occurs, whether with a lone inventor or in a creative team within an organisation, there seem to be common factors involved. There have been many attempts over the past 100 years to explain the creative process that occurs while people are attempting to solve problems. I'm going to combine ideas from two such models of the st
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4.9 A consumer's experience of innovation

First phone in 1968

As I mentioned earlier my parents first acquired a domestic telephone in 1968 – more than 90 years after its invention.

Before then other ways of communicating seemed good enough. In the early 1950s in our street of around 100 houses only one family had a private telephone. My family used public call boxes occasionally but we didn't know many people with their own phone so not many calls needed to be made. When we needed to communicate with people at a
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4.7 Has telephone design changed over time?

As you can see from Figure 5 the design of the telephone has changed considerably over its lifetime, reflecting the improvements in technology, materials, components and manufacturing processes. Figures 1(a) to (f) show some of the early progress. Author(s): The Open University

4.2 When and where was the telephone invented?

I'd read in the past that the telephone was invented in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell. However when I looked more closely at the history it turns out that the idea had been ‘in the air’ for almost half a century.

The distance communication technology of the time, the telegraph, was based on sending pulses of electricity along a wire to control an electromagnet at the receiving end. The sender completed an electric circuit by pressing a key and the receiver's electromagnet controlled
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4.1 An explanation

I will now elaborate on my answer from Exercise 1. I'm doing this because my internet search revealed more than I've written in the above answer, and to show that the invention of the telephone and its use by consumers is not as plain and simple as you may think. You we
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2.2 The inventive drive

What events and ideas spurred people to come up with thousands of inventions in the last 100 years?

Ron Hickman was a do-it-yourself enthusiast who damaged a chair being used to support a piece of wood he was sawing. Instead of merely being annoyed at the accident he set about designing and building a prototype of a combined workbench and sawhorse to prevent further damage to his furniture. This became the Workmate (Author(s): The Open University

Module team

The T552 course team

Andy Lane, course team chair and author (1999) Karen Shipp, course team chair (2002)

Rosalind Armson, author and critical reader

Jake Chapman, author

Eion Farmer, author and critical reader

John Hamwee, author

John Martin, author

Laurence Newman, course manager

Wendy Fisher, author

John Hudson, author

Graham Paton, author

Roberts, author

Christine Bla
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1.3.4 Diagrams for connectivity

Relationship diagrams offer one way of putting more order into your understanding of a situation. Each element of a situation is named in an oval and lines between ovals indicate that there are relationships between the particular elements – but no more than this!

Systems maps are another way of developing one's understanding of a situation. Systems maps are essentially ‘structure’ diagrams. Each element or sub-system is contained in a circle or oval and a line is d
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1.1.4 Structure and process

Diagrams are normally intended to describe either structure or process and not both. Table 1 gives a classification of diagram types by structure or process. Another way to view this is to note that there are diagram types that represent largely static relationships and those that represent situ
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References

Bailey, R.W. (1982) Human Performance Engineering:A guide for systems designers, New Jersey, Prentice Hall.
Blackler, A., Popovic, V. and Mahar, D. (2003) ‘Intuitive use of products’, Design Studies.
Jordan, P. (2000) Designing Pleasurable Products, London, Taylor and Francis.
Norman, D. A. (1998) The Design
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4 Who are the users?

This section reveals that ‘users’ can include a wide variety of people – not just the final purchasers or consumers of a product. The section also makes the case for strong user representation in the design process.

Of course, it is not only me who uses the various products in my home; other people use them as well, both members of the family and visitors. Sometimes the range of users of a product, and their different needs, can be diverse. And in addition to the obvious or intend
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5.10 Fluoridation

The addition of fluoride to water has caused much controversy and public debate. The problem seems to be that some see it as the addition of a poison, and others see it as the use of mass medication whether the individual wishes it or not.

Many waters do, however, have a natural fluoride content (Figure 33) and it has been suggested that the presence of fluoride in a concentration of 1.0 mg l−1 is beneficial in preventing dental decay. Above this concentration there is the
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Module team

Andy Lane, author Mary Thorpe, author

John Martin, course chair, Amber Eves, course manager

Mandy Anton, graphic designer

Susan Carr, critical reader

Tony Duggan, project controller (Technology)

Eion Farmer, critical reader

Clive Fetter, editor

Jim Frederickson, critical reader

Pip Harris, compositor

Caryl Hunter-Brown, subject information specialist

John Naughton, critical reader

Pat Shah, course secretary

Ro
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