Inside IT
IT and Invention Changing the World Together

More people are paying attention to the issue of intellectual property rights these days, since there have been countless patent infringement court cases around the world. Intellectual property is a concept created to protect the rights of the originator of an idea. There are various kinds of rights one can have, including the well-known patent, as well as the utility model and copyright.

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Among these, patents are especially open to anyone with new ideas for an invention. Invention in this sense basically means an activity creating new products which will resolve inconveniences we face in our daily lives.

New products created through invention also play huge roles in the IT industry. Smart phones, tablets, 3D printers, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) are examples that were produced to remedy inconvenience, and they are now considered inseparable from our lives.

Methods of Invention

There are methods in invention just like in scholarship. The invention process is as follows.

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The second step, suggesting a solution, is the hardest part of the entire process. Let’s have a look at some methods that can be used to find a solution.

① Brainstorming

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Brainstorming is a group learning technique for creative ideas proposed by Alex Faickney Osborn. It is a technique to produce new ideas in a casual setting using four basic rules. These rules are as follows.

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Brainstorming is one of the most commonly used techniques for coming up with new ideas. What’s important here is to think of every possible idea as suggested in the first three rules rather than looking for a perfect solution.

Combining two or more ideas can also lead to a better idea, as mentioned in the last rule.

② The Gordon Technique

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The Gordon Technique is an idea generating method created by William J. J. Gordon, and is a kind of abstract thinking skill for groups. Unlike brainstorming which presents a specific theme, The Gordon Technique only provides keywords. This technique starts from facts unrelated to the actual topic then moves onto questions that will solve the problem. The process includes the following steps.

  1. Create a group of people including experts and others from various fields.
  2. The leader encourages good ideas without interpreting the question or mentioning the core problem.
  3. The leader helps the group communicate freely while suggesting the general direction.
  4. The group keeps going until something comes up.
  5. Once there are ideas related to the solution of the problem, the leader lets the group know what the problem is, then the group forms more useful ideas leading toward a final solution which can be implemented.

The most important part of The Gordon Technique is the role of the leader. The leader needs to create conditions in which the group can suggest ideas and find the solution to the core problem.

③ Lotus Blossom

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Lotus Blossom, also known as MY technique, is an idea structuring technique created by Masmura Yasuo from Clover Management Research in Japan. This technique uses the following method and utilizes the image above.

  1. Draw eight squares around a central 3×3 square.
  2. Write down the problem in the square marked with a ★.
  3. Write down the direction or point of view needed to solve the problem next to the central box.
  4. Ideas from the central 3×3 square become the core topic for the eight surrounding squares.
  5. Combine ideas from the eight sub-topics and discuss them to draw solutions for the problem.

The key feature of Lotus Blossom is that it helps find the solution systematically and gradationally while using visual images to create ideas.

④ TRIZ

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TRIZ stands for the Russian term ”Teoriya Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadach (creative problem solving theory)”, and looks for a method to solve a problem by seeking the fundamental contradiction which caused the problem in the first place. This method was created by Genrich Altchuller who applied forty principles deduced from analysis of over 200,000 created patents around the world.

As you see from the image above, it presents a systematic method to solve problems through forty principles found from great inventions. With TRIZ, you can define the best solution to resolve exiting inconveniences, find contradiction emerging by the solution, and the solution to overcome this contradiction.

The Inseparable Relationship between IT and Invention

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The key factor in the IT industry is to find what’s causing inconvenience and to create new products that will solve them. Analyzing the features of the product desired by consumers and presenting the most suitable solution basically form the heart of the developers and designers’ jobs.

Laptops, which are a good example of Lotus Blossom technique, made it possible for people to carry a PC. To develop a portable laptop, components like the monitor, mainboard, hard disk, ODD, RAM, and fan can be put into the surrounding squares for improvement.

Smart phones and tablets show how brain storming works. They were developed through the idea that laptops should be even lighter so they can be held in one hand.

The modular smart phone launched by LG Electronics was developed to modularize certain functions (camera, audio performance, battery operation time, etc.), so that users can customize each function to their liking. This is a good example of The Gordon Technique. What made it possible to develop this modular smart phone was the core question they reached “is it possible to customize functions according to each user’s preference?”, and it all started with the keyword “function”.

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3D printers, which are gaining popularity as a new industry, are a great example of TRIZ. 3D printers were developed to create three dimensional objects including artificial organs, by complementing 2D printers using various filaments. The key principle applied to these 3D printers was “another dimension”.

Lastly VR, through which we can have three-dimensional experiences through images when two-dimensional images are simply not enough, also applied the “another dimension” principle from TRIZ.

The great inventor Edison once said, “There are no rules here—we’re trying to accomplish something”. Many inventors today still try to keep this in mind. Invention, which is to improve what we already have, can also be considered an effort to make the world a better place.

Systematic inventions coming from these methods above continue to help make a more convenient world. I look forward to seeing what kind of new technologies will brighten the world through the collaboration between IT and invention.

Written by Woonje Sung, LG CNS Student Reporter

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