As we say goodbye to the year 2020 (before hastily slamming the door in its face and changing the locks, in the hope that its kind may never return again), we enter a brand-new year. Despite the multiple challenges that faced us during the unprecedented past 12 months, there is still a strong sense of opportunity and optimism as we cross the threshold into the next. Indeed, perhaps that sense is even more heightened than usual, given its contrast to recent events.
Now is the chance to reset and have a fresh start as the hope of vaccines give us encouragement to dream of a future where the simplest of activities are once again available, without threat of death or disease.
Maybe soon, we will be able to catch a bus. Drink at a pub. Visit the cinema. Balk at the price of popcorn. Hug a loved one. Apologise to the stranger that we mistook for a loved one because we spent slightly too long at the pub. All of this without the spectre of Covid-19 and the smell of hand sanitiser lingering over proceedings. Face masks can finally go back to being used by the professionals who truly need them, such as surgeons and bank robbers.
A blank page
The blank page of a new year lies open before us, ready to be filled with new and exciting adventure stories. And for the more inventive amongst us, now is the perfect time to take the blank page analogy more literally by starting an inventor’s notebook!
Some of you will already be well familiar with this concept, but just in case you’ve not come across these before, an inventor’s notebook is where an inventor will endeavour to record their ideas and project progress. Many of the most well-known creative minds from across the ages have utilised them, including Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Galileo Galilei, and Leonardo Da Vinci.
They really are as simple as they sound, so much so that it can be easy to dismiss them as crude or unsophisticated. But in a world that can become clogged with confused complexities, it can be refreshing to embrace something as simple as a notebook and pen or pencil. However, before doing so, it might be worth remembering that these simple devices that we so take for granted today are actually relatively modern inventions themselves.
A not so ancient history
In the early days of humanity, the only way to record your thoughts, experiences, and Amazon wishlists, was to scratch them onto the side of a cave wall. As we evolved, these scratched marks were replaced by basic pigments from various sources of flora and fauna, and cave walls became stone tablets and later, animal hides. Even when equipment that more resembles what we have in the modern day was available, such as parchment, ink and quills, the availability and use of these was limited to a select few. Scribes, accountants, and early legislators had access to tools and skills that the common man might think of as magic.
Compare that to today where you can pop into a shop and buy a notepad and pen for literally a few pence. So simple they are almost completely overlooked and disregarded, yet they are the fruit of millennia of development as mankind sought self-expression and the ability to draw funny little doodles whilst on a Zoom call. And let us not forget that the disposable rollerball-style of pen was only developed in the 1960’s and 70’s.
Anyway, back to the inventor’s notebook specifically. These can be invaluable in collating your collection of ideas and thoughts relating to potential new product ideas. Thoughts can bubble up from seemingly nowhere, with ‘lightbulb’ moments occurring at the most unexpected times. Being able to quickly jot these down can be vital in preserving them before they disappear back into the ether like a dream.
To finish up, here are a few tips on how best to optimise the use of your inventor’s notebook:
- Keep it accessible at all times. The best ideas can crop up in the middle of the night or on the toilet, so be prepared!
- Regularly update and review your journal. Set aside some time each day or week and you may be surprised how this discipline will get your creative juices flowing. Like anything else, regular practice will improve outcomes.
- Don’t discount anything! Be as off the wall as you like. Filtering of ideas and concepts can come later. Although it could not be produced for another 450 years, Da Vinci effectively invented the helicopter in the 15th century.
- Don’t worry if sketching is not your thing. Even the roughest drawing can help capture and develop a concept. Your notebook is for you and your ideas. Keep it private. So long as it communicates its ideas back to you, it’s working.
- Create a list of products you would love to have – things to make life easier, more enjoyable, safer etc. Similarly, a list of problems you would like to see solved can spawn new product ideas.
- If the idea of a physical notebook really does seem too old fashioned, there are some excellent electronic alternatives. Most smartphones or tablets have a notetaking app, many with speech-to-text conversion. And with Apple Pencil or Samsung’s Note range of products, you can even take notes in the traditional way, with a very modern twist.
You’ve got it!
Eventually, some diamonds in the rough may start to appear. These ideas can be further developed and refined. Thought can then be given to commercial viability and market research. But then what? You have what feels like a really good idea for a new product but you’re not sure how to turn it into a reality. Well, that’s where Innovate can help of course! We can help with patent research, patent protection, design work and prototyping, giving you a guiding hand to get your product to market. Get in touch for a free and without obligation assessment of your idea.