Invention Idea

My oldest son had a great idea for an invention today. He even found a web site that takes invention ideas and typed it in. Trouble was that the web site required users to be 18 and he’s just 11, so they wouldn’t take it. I think it’s a fine idea, so I’m going to publish it on the web for him.

This is how he answered the web site questions.

My idea for a new product is…

a mix between a nintendow controler and a gameboy. It has an “A” and a “B” button on the back and the control stick on the front of the handle. It kind of looks like one of those handheld fishing toys but it plays gameboy games. It will be very comfortable unlike treo or a regular gameboy. You can play it in one hand so it can be more confortable, easier, and relaxing.

I came up with my idea when I was…

in the bathroom. I was plaing my gameboy when my hand started aching. so I turned it off and started thinking about other gaming divices. I thouht of a nintendow thing and still had my mind on the gameboy. so I thought “What if I combined these two things two make one.” I put them together in my mind and came up with a one handle gameboy.

I don’t know enough about these controllers to know if his idea has real merit or not. I do know I can’t afford to bankroll research on these game devices, or invest in a decent patent lawyer. But I’m still proud of the inventive spirit he has. What makes me swell with hope for him is that he has the honesty not to indicate that he’s 18.

I took him to the University of Missouri this morning forĀ Saturday Morning Sciencea talk they had invited kids to. This Saturday the talk was on Radiopharmaceuticals. I expected him to enjoy the bagels, but he listened in and even doodled several technical terms.

The middle child, 7, came as well. He tired of the language and subject matter, but was content to simply snuggle with his old man. They both enjoy parking at the top of the 6 floor parking garage so they can run up the stairs and leave me wheezing far behind. It is good exercise, for all of us.

They wanted to hurry home to play with the Vex Robot kit we have borrowed from 4-H. In my haste to play with them, I forgot to take one kid to his 4-H Citizenship project and arrived hopelessly late.

I am trying to assist in the development of a Robotics project. We assembled the simplest unit today which is basically a skid steer, radio controlled car. It’s fun for starters, but I’m looking forward to having it perform more logic.

It is the logic of processing input and responding to it that makes it a robot. I was taught that a mouse trap is a robot; it senses that the quarry is in the vulnerable position and snaps the trap. A thermostat also is a robot that senses the temperature of the room and reponds accordingly, turning the furnace on or off. The valve that senses the level of water in the toilet tank and automatically turns it off is another example. In modern computing, a robot is a program that seeks information on the web to store it in a search engine database.

All of those jobs would be boring or impossible without these devices: imagine waiting for the mouse to come along so you could spring the trap on him. How successful are you likely to be when the mouse can sense that you are near? Expanding the participants view of robotics to include these simple devices would be a key goal of a successful Robotics project.

We can only hope that the kids who take a 6-hour Robotics project will be a little more prepared to use, adapt or invent technology to improve their world.