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Bootstrapping a New Technology?

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the research-in-motion dept.

Input Devices 360

djk1024 writes "I've just filed for a patent on a new approach to motion capture that is simple, cheap, easy, accurate, and portable. It's RF-based, accurate to 1 mm, and simple enough that a sophisticated hobbyist could build one in a couple weekends from plans and standard electronics. So now what? I quit my job and have been working on this full-time for the past couple of years; now I'm out of money so can't continue development on my own. I'm also not an electrical or RF guy so I can't carry out my own independent development on the electronics. I'm quite frustrated at this point. I've been in the software development field for over 30 years and have gone through a large number of startups, but always just as the head techie, and always as part of a team. This doing it alone sucks. I would love some advice on how best to go forward."

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Sell your patent (5, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | about 5 years ago | (#29346007)

The buyer may offer you a job, which seems to be what you want.

Re:Sell your patent (1, Insightful)

IANAAC (692242) | about 5 years ago | (#29346041)

The buyer may offer you a job, which seems to be what you want.

What buyer? I didn't see mention of any buyer. And if he's seeking a buyer, well, that too takes some know how.

Re:Sell your patent (2, Insightful)

ChrisMP1 (1130781) | about 5 years ago | (#29346095)

Read the title.

Re:Sell your patent (0)

IANAAC (692242) | about 5 years ago | (#29346411)

Would that be the poster to whom I responded, or djk1024, the poster of "Bootstrapping a New Technology?"

djk1024 mentioned nothing of a buyer.

Re:Sell your patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346515)

The part where it says "Sell your patent."

Re:Sell your patent (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346723)

Just how retarded/blind are you?

Re:Sell your patent (2, Informative)

erpbridge (64037) | about 5 years ago | (#29346801)

Read the title of the parent's post... he's suggesting to hypothetically sell the patent, and the hypothetical buyer.

Re:Sell your patent (5, Funny)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | about 5 years ago | (#29346891)

...to hypothetically sell the patent, and the hypothetical buyer.

If he'll take hypothetical money, I may be interested...hypothetically.

Re:Sell your patent (3, Interesting)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | about 5 years ago | (#29346131)

That's a little hasty, I'd offer an employer free use and licensing rights on the patent for the duration of your employment, and give them a contract guaranteeing them use with a marginal license fee after. There's also the issue of exclusivity, but you should figure out what you want to do with that and possibly talk it over with your future employer.

Now, I have one question and please don't take this the wrong way: if you system is so simple it would take only a few weekends to build yourself, why is it taking you so long to develop? Many hobby kits have versions, as do essentially all complex electronic components. If you just filed for a patent you should be patent-pending soon, which means even if you sell kits or samples the users of your kits/samples will not be able to mass produce all they want - patent pending alone is enough to bring up and win a court case. Also, you don't really need a patent to copyright or license your idea, so why not do that now?

Re:Sell your patent (5, Informative)

Zordak (123132) | about 5 years ago | (#29346345)

Okay, I'm going to be a little anal here. Nothing personal, just trying to make sure that only the best and most precise information is showing up on Slashdot.

Now, I have one question and please don't take this the wrong way: if you system is so simple it would take only a few weekends to build yourself, why is it taking you so long to develop?

Development usually takes a lot longer than following somebody else's directions.

.... If you just filed for a patent you should be patent-pending soon

If he just filed a patent application, then his thing is "patent pending." As soon as you file, you can call it that.

which means even if you sell kits or samples the users of your kits/samples will not be able to mass produce all they want - patent pending alone is enough to bring up and win a court case.

Um, no, that is absolutely not true. You cannot sue on a patent until it issues. Before it issues, you don't even know what the claims are going to be when they issue. In most cases, they get amended during prosecution. So until your patent issues, you can't sue anybody, much less win. There is one thing to be aware of. Once your application is published, if you put a potential infringer on notice of your pending application and if it then issues with substantially the same claims as the ones that were publishes, then after it issues and you sue them, you will be able to get a reasonable royalty going back to when you put them on notice. But you still can't actually sue until the patent issues.

Also, you don't really need a patent to copyright or license your idea, so why not do that now?

You can't copyright an idea. You can copyright your description of it, but that doesn't prevent somebody from reading that description and implementing the same idea. It just keeps them from copying your description. Copyrights and patents are not interchangeable.

I'm a patent attorney, but this post is not legal advice. It's for entertainment purposes only. In other words, if you use a post on Slashdot as legal advice and things go badly for you, (1) you deserve whatever you get, and (2) don't try to sue me.

Re:Sell your patent (1)

masshuu (1260516) | about 5 years ago | (#29346457)

i just made use of your advice and got sued for $30,000. I demand you pay it cause i followed your advice.

thats right ladies and gentlemen, for the low price of $30,000, i can tell you how to go to court and get sued in under 15 minutes

Re:Sell your patent (4, Funny)

Zordak (123132) | about 5 years ago | (#29346607)

No problem. Your check's in the mail. I postdated it for "the day after the GNU Hurd port of Duke Nukem Forever ships."

Re:Sell your patent (3, Interesting)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | about 5 years ago | (#29346619)

I wasn't trying to say the development process was short, and I'm not quite sure what system the author is developing; but it sounds like the author is perhaps way in over his head. There are many companies that exist solely for the purpose of providing technical assistance in developing new technologies for people with ideas. The Xerox machine for example, the inventor only had an idea and he hired a graduate student to develop it. The company I am a part of provides such development services as well, and I'm fairly confident if the author claims his system is as simple as he states it is we could have developed it for him into a product for less than $5,000US and in less than a few months.

Also, perhaps I used Copyright incorrectly. Here we have "è'--ä½oeæ©" which is automatically issued at the time of release of any created work. I could create software, hardware, an image, a document, an audio recording, it doesn't matter as soon as I create it and release it somehow I automatically get my rights to it. If someone were to copy it, regardless of weather or not I held a patent, I could raise legal action against them (unless I had already released it under a particular license which granted them use).

Re:Sell your patent (3, Informative)

Zordak (123132) | about 5 years ago | (#29346669)

I could create software, hardware, an image, a document, an audio recording, it doesn't matter as soon as I create it and release it somehow I automatically get my rights to it. If someone were to copy it, regardless of weather or not I held a patent, I could raise legal action against them (unless I had already released it under a particular license which granted them use).

Yes, absolutely. But that still doesn't get you where you need to be. For example, let's say that I invent a brilliant new circuit, and do up a nice schematic of it. I have a copyright in that schematic. Maybe I'll even register my copyright. And if you copy the schematic, you infringe my copyright. But if you get a copy of my schematic and build the actual circuit, you have not infringed my copyright. The only way I can keep you from building the circuit is by patenting the circuit.

The company I am a part of provides such development services as well, and I'm fairly confident if the author claims his system is as simple as he states it is we could have developed it for him into a product for less than $5,000US and in less than a few months.

You ought to send me your contact info. I sometimes have inventors who need that kind of service. It's nice for them to have options. Contact info. [jw.com]

Re:Sell your patent (1)

mrmeval (662166) | about 5 years ago | (#29346335)

Get a job. You've done the classic mistake of abandoning your air supply and now you do not have the resources to make your goal a reality.

Re:Sell your patent (3, Informative)

djk1024 (1209862) | about 5 years ago | (#29346711)

The job I quit was as a software architect for Microsoft, so, no, a job isn't what I'm looking for. I had a pretty good one. I'm afraid that I'm addicted to tech startups. I think I've got a pretty important new thing here and I'm concerned about immediate survival mode until I can get this thing to ignition. And I haven't been looking for a buyer as much as development partners and seed funding.

Know the SCORE (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 5 years ago | (#29346015)

http://www.score.org/index.html [score.org]

Seriously, get some help. Asking "techies" is, as you probably are quickly finding out, the absolute wrong way to get good business advice.

Re:Know the SCORE (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346267)

No, you don't understand. He's looking for a list of things not to do by asking techies, but now you've created a paradox. You fool!

Help will be required (5, Insightful)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | about 5 years ago | (#29346497)

You need help for the business side or else someone is going to rip off your idea, make minor changes patent that and commercialize it right out from under you. Since you don't have any staff your the best option might be licensing to someone, but you'll need help to find the right someone. If you don't license you'll need way more people and a VC or other funding source to get it off the ground at any volume. The more revolutionary the product the more you need money to defend it.

SCORE would be a reasonable place to go. Stay well away from 'invention companies' or at least any that demand up front fees. By filing the patent you've started the clock so you are going to have to move fast. Expect to have two jobs for a while until funding comes through - one job makes money to pay the rent and the other is searching for the right way to harvest this technology.

The other option might be a partner - IF you know anyone you can trust from your other startups who can deliver the right expertise.

A quick technical question, could this provide position monitoring for indoor robots or rovers? There's not much in the market, what is there tends to be hacked together and/or expensive.

OK, you've asked Slashdot... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346017)

Put Linux on it, fire up emacs and send a letter to Microsoft telling them to screw themselves.

Yep, that ought to do it.

Re:OK, you've asked Slashdot... (2, Funny)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 5 years ago | (#29346037)

Step 4: ???

Re:OK, you've asked Slashdot... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346169)

Step 5: Prof^^^^^^^^^H Move back to Mom's Basement

Re:OK, you've asked Slashdot... (2, Funny)

pwizard2 (920421) | about 5 years ago | (#29346195)

Step 4 is coming down with carpal tunnel syndrome from all the meta and control key usage involved in doing Step 2.

Re:OK, you've asked Slashdot... (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 5 years ago | (#29346301)

You forgot:

Step 5: Profit!

Re:OK, you've asked Slashdot... (1)

sukotto (122876) | about 5 years ago | (#29346697)

You forgot "Hot Grits", "Natalie Portman" and the link to goats.ex

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346025)

Show me your blueprints and I'll tell you

Market idea to where the money is... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346029)

pr0n

Patent (5, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 5 years ago | (#29346031)

... and simple enough that a sophisticated hobbyist could build one in a couple weekends from plans and standard electronics.

If you hadn't patented it, that is. Instead, if a hobbyist tried to do that, you could sue him.

Thanks.

Re:Patent (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346373)

I know you're just joking, but...

Patents don't preclude hobbyists from building their own, so long as they don't go selling it. There are a lot of patented technologies out there, that us hobbyists casually build or modify all the time, without a problem. Most of the time it's also OK to sell that stuff, so long as it's just the hobbyist selling personal belongings that they no longer need. (That is, not mass producing for profit.)

The whole point (or it was intended as so) of patents is that the methodologies are out in the public, which allows everyone to know the method and even build on it, while allowing the inventor to be able to be the sole producer of it for profit purposes. If you don't want the public to know about it, you keep it as a trade secret. No one (might) know about the methodology (security through obscurity?) but you have no protection either.

Re:Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346613)

I don't think that he's joking, because the way that I understand it, patents don't prohibit just the commercial exploitation of a patented technology. They prohibit all unauthorized *use*, manufacture, or sale, of the patented technology. The term "use", would include noncommercial, home use. Of course, as a practical matter, if someone is just pursuing a hobby in their home, and happens to infringe on a bunch of patents unintentionally, the patent holders would probably never find out, and wouldn't care even if they did find out, but I still think that he was making a serious and valid observation.

ok (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346045)

1. Get a job (solve cash flow situation first)
2. Preferably somewhere with people you can recruit into your endeavor
3. Recruit people to help you from your job or from anywhere you can find them (meetup?)
4. Find investors if money is needed, or do it organically with money from your own job
5. Finish the prototype/proof of concept
6. Shop around to interested buyers
7. Profit?

Most importantly you need more eyes on what you're doing for the sanity check. People in the business which you will be selling or licensing this to.

Re:ok (4, Insightful)

Zordak (123132) | about 5 years ago | (#29346363)

You forgot Step 0: Read the employment agreement of your prospective employer. It's entirely possible that if you don't do this, and you follow steps 1 -- 6, step 7 will be "Watch your employer profit and get a hearty pat on the back and a 'Job well done!'"

Re:ok (5, Interesting)

mindbrane (1548037) | about 5 years ago | (#29346569)

I managed a +100mil real estate portfolio and my parents made me (paid for) take a lot of courses in economics, business law and accounting, (they had a very straight forward, cogent argument: "if you ever want to see any of our money you'd better know how we got it and how you can hang onto it".) Also I'm in a situation similar to the guy who posted the story.

My education and business experience lends a few additional points to the parent. * Never take on your lawyer or your accountant as business partners. More generally, and this should even apply to your financial backers, but it's not always feasible, never give an interest in your company to another company, or, someone whose job it is to act in your interests, such as a lawyer or accountant. More generally, try not to place your trust in others when the trust you've placed in them creates a conflict of interest. Personally, I believe in "partners" and agents who have conflicting interests and watch one another as potential antagonists. * Try to keep your initial outlays low. It's very realistic to think you'll realize no more than 10% of your outlay if you're forced to sell off a failed business. * Don't trust a handshake, get it in writing, and, make sure it's an enforceable contract.

My own personally gleaned bit of advice is to always pay for professional services, hiring reputable firms whose errors & omissions insurance premiums are paid up, then, if they screw up, sue the bastards for all they're worth. Really, I'm deadly serious on this one. Business is a dog eat dog world. Good luck.

Open source? (2, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | about 5 years ago | (#29346047)

Would you mind just open sourcing this? I've been wanting something like this for a really long time to do an open source movie.

Right now, artists from a lot of different domains can participate in open-source culture. There's open source music, open source art, open source writing, etc. The one 'media' where creators cannot participate in open source is movement -- dance, martial art, acting, miming, etc -- because there's no cheap way to digitize their work. If you open sourced your work you would change things forever. You would be like the guy who invented the computer or the printing press. I know the American dream is to invent something in your basement and become a millionaire, and I'd like that for you, but maybe things are changing in this day and age.

Re:Open source? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346149)

Yea, instead of trying to at a minimum recover his costs, he's just going to open source something that took countless hours of work.

No, this is *precisely* the kind of thing patents are supposed to protect. I'm sure if you paid him a fair amount of money, he'll grant you the license to open source it yourself if you like.

Re:Open source? (1, Insightful)

RichardDeVries (961583) | about 5 years ago | (#29346155)

Open sourcing this is not a bad idea. Why?
First of all: you've made at least a few mistakes. The most important is that you apparently quit your day job before you had your first serious customer. Having a brilliant product doesn't mean you can live off it. You need people who buy it. The second mistake is related: once you decide to earn a living off your invention, you should spend at least half of your time selling it, not developing. Third mistake: you're "not an electrical or RF guy", but you're doing this solo?
The best way of selling this would be to have a working demo. Create something with your invention that isn't possible with other solutions, be it technically or budget-wise. Since you seem to have been working on this for a few years and haven't come up with something, you probably need others to do this (or anything else that might spur sales).
Open sourcing your product might do this for you. You will lose the property of the software and/or mechanisms, but you'll still be recognised as the inventor and the expert. This might get you places.

Re:Open source? (3, Interesting)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 5 years ago | (#29346763)

Well in this case he may be able to start making money immediately.

Camp out as a street performer. Tape RF emitters to your fingertips. Connect your camera or whatever to your laptop. Turn up laptop speakers to 100%. Rest your hands on a table and start playing the piano with your fingertips and no actual piano.

I'd imagine that it would be very easy to go from knowing which fingers look depressed to producing tones.

Extend it to rapidly decelerating drumsticks making thunk noises and you could have a thing going. Drumming on air.

Re:Open source? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 5 years ago | (#29346329)

The one 'media' where creators cannot participate in open source is movement -- dance, martial art, acting, miming, etc -- because there's no cheap way to digitize their work.

It's called rotoscoping and all it costs is time. Plus, if you want to recruit people for it, let them know that the more motion they duplicate, the more practical animation experience they'll have.

Re:Open source? (1)

joocemann (1273720) | about 5 years ago | (#29346353)

I'm an American, and my current plans for working in the basement involve helping all of humanity without pay or profit and taking the losses of making it happen myself.

The American Dream is hardly applicable in 2009. (I'm not trying to nit-pick your post at all, by the way. I just want to set an example.)

Re:Open source? (1)

djk1024 (1209862) | about 5 years ago | (#29346743)

I would love to open source this for any non-profit uses. I just don't know how to go about it and still protect for-profit licensing agreements and products.

Contradictory? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346077)

"RF-based, accurate to 1mm" .... "I'm not an electrical or RF guy"

So if you don't know the radio technology, how can you know that it is accurate to 1mm and be able to adequately describe the patent for the application?

Rondam's top ten Geek Business Myths (5, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | about 5 years ago | (#29346083)

I always thought this was insightful, but never could test that belief: Top Ten Geek Business Myths [blogspot.com] :

Myth #1: A brilliant idea will make you rich.
Myth #2: If you build it they will come.
Myth #3: Someone will steal your idea if you don't protect it.
Myth #4: What you think matters.
Myth #5: Financial models are bogus.
Myth #6: What you know matters more than who you know.
Myth #7: A Ph.D. means something.
Myth #8: I need $5 million to start my business
Myth #9: The idea is the most important part of my business plan.
Myth #10: Having no competition is a good thing.
The actual blog has much more in-depth explanations of the myths. And, it has a special Bonus Myth!

Re:Rondam's top ten Geek Business Myths (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346249)

And I stopped reading after #1's justification.

Microsoft has never had a brilliant idea? I know there is a lot of Microsoft bashing around here, but this seems a bit much.

Re:Rondam's top ten Geek Business Myths (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 years ago | (#29346501)

Microsoft has never had a brilliant idea? I know there is a lot of Microsoft bashing around here, but this seems a bit much.

Yet you weren't able to come up with one counter-example, were you?

Re:Rondam's top ten Geek Business Myths (2, Funny)

joocemann (1273720) | about 5 years ago | (#29346371)

Lol. A Ph.D DOES mean something. Get real.

Re:Rondam's top ten Geek Business Myths (2, Interesting)

ghostdoc (1235612) | about 5 years ago | (#29346529)

Lol. A Ph.D DOES mean something. Get real.

And the awesome response from the article, which I completely agree with...

Myth #7: A Ph.D. means something.

Reality: The only thing a Ph.D. means is that you're not a moron, and you're willing to put up with the bullshit it takes to slog your way through a Ph.D. program somewhere. Empirically, having a Ph.D. is negatively correlated with business success. This is because the reward structure in academia is almost the exact opposite of what it is in business. In academia, what your peers think matters. In business, it's what your customers think that matters, and your customers are (almost certainly) not your peers.

[UPDATE: this is not to say that getting a Ph.D. is useless. You can learn a lot of useful stuff by getting a Ph.D. But it's the knowledge and experience that you gain by going through the process that is potentially valuable (for business endeavors), not the degree itself.]

Regarding the original poster...the most important component of any startup is not the technology but the business plan. You fail to mention if you've even got a business plan, which tends to suggest you don't. So stop, go back to work, find a business angel or someone who knows how to run a business, and then convince them to give your idea a try.

Re:Rondam's top ten Geek Business Myths (1)

joocemann (1273720) | about 5 years ago | (#29346675)

I guess in the context of business it means very little... could get you hired in better positions maybe...

I forgot the context when I posted. A phd means a lot in reality; one being that the more higher educated people become the less they are interested in money. It also means you know what you're talking about in your field.

Re:Rondam's top ten Geek Business Myths (1)

Vellmont (569020) | about 5 years ago | (#29346881)


one being that the more higher educated people become the less they are interested in money.

Or maybe it means the more interested in money you are, the less likely you are to become highly educated.

It also means you know what you're talking about in your field.

Wow, that'd be nice. Anytime we want to know something with certainty all we have to do is just ask a Phd. in that field what the right answer is! I don't doubt there's a correlation between education in a field and knowledge in it. But you have to admit there's a lot of people with Phd's speaking about their field who really shouldn't be.

Re:Rondam's top ten Geek Business Myths (1)

Flere Imsaho (786612) | about 5 years ago | (#29346625)

It means he's got a huge student loan to pay off.

Re:Rondam's top ten Geek Business Myths (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29346657)

Outside Academia, it means very little.

And when running your own business, it means very little: in most cases, your customers won't ask "Does he have a Ph.d.?" before buying your product.

Re:Rondam's top ten Geek Business Myths (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 5 years ago | (#29346539)

Funny, the Ph.D.s at my mom's work constantly send her email hoaxes, chain letters, and worms.

Re:Rondam's top ten Geek Business Myths (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | about 5 years ago | (#29346583)

Myth #3 is correct. Even if you protect your idea, other people will figure it out anyway. There are only so many good ideas out there. Many ideas I had for multimillion dollar markets became correct and people are making millions of dollars in ideas I came up with. At least I know a high percentage of the ideas I come up with are good.

Re:Rondam's top ten Geek Business Myths (1)

cmdotter (1274534) | about 5 years ago | (#29346751)

The correct road to business success lies in collecting underpants first.

Re:Rondam's top ten Geek Business Myths (1)

mikael (484) | about 5 years ago | (#29346785)

One of our professors said that your company always needed to have six months of development time before releasing the first version of any product, and you should already be designing the next version. By the time any competitor has been able to put together a rival team and made their product, you will already have market share and have the next generation version available as an upgrade.

Help is easy to get. (1)

wonderboss (952111) | about 5 years ago | (#29346087)

Good, honest help is a little more challenging. SCORE might be ok, but you need someone with some knowledge of technology. If you are in Silicon Valley, I can recommend people that can provide advice, contacts, possibly money. If you are not there, indicate where you are and perhaps friends of friends can help.

SVASE (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346111)

Read "The Art of the Start", and look at www.svase.org.

One question (4, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | about 5 years ago | (#29346153)

How did you manage to invent this if you're not an electrical or RF guy?

Re:One question (1)

broken_chaos (1188549) | about 5 years ago | (#29346187)

Trial and error?

Re:One question (4, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | about 5 years ago | (#29346233)

i'm guessing he is struggling with the part where he has to actually produce something. comming up with the idea and lodging a patent is the easy part, it's when you try to make your idea work is where all flaws in your idea come out, which is why i believe patents without working or mathamaticly proven prototypes should be rejected.

Re:One question (-1, Redundant)

corbettw (214229) | about 5 years ago | (#29346375)

All of which is an excellent argument for requiring a working prototype prior to getting a patent.

Re:One question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346739)

I think that you should have to produce a working prototype, or your patent should be rejected. (Me too! AOL!)

Re:One question (5, Interesting)

pipedwho (1174327) | about 5 years ago | (#29346449)

Mod parent up.

Our company is a contract electronics design house. We see all sorts of people come to us to implement their patents - most of which are usually about things that they barely understand. In most cases those patents aren't worth the paper that they're printed on.

It never ceases to amaze me when a client comes through the door with a 'valid' patent that contains a description of something that is standard practice within the industry. Then they get all upset when we show them another product from 10 years earlier that does what their 'invention' does, but better, cheaper and more reliably.

This is the scariest thing about the kind of software patents that are getting granted these days. The 'novelty' that they contain is hardly novel within the practicing industry. Fair enough that the truly clever inventions are granted, but the vast majority are just not novel, and in many cases are so close to prior art that they should never have been granted. And that's not even going down the 'obviousness' path.

Re:One question (5, Informative)

djk1024 (1209862) | about 5 years ago | (#29346895)

I have a proof-of-theory prototype i.e. move the antennas relative to one another and get predictable readings and have already developed the math libraries in support of combining readings into Cartesian coordinates. . This is a far cry from a product however, and a substanstial amount of development needs to take place to make a working product. RF design houses that I've talked with figure about $100K for me to get to a working development kit. I'm aiming for a dev kit that would support about 20 targets and have a form factor in the neightborhood of a cigar box. I would want to price it at less than $1K.

Re:One question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346841)

i think he's more of the 'conceptualizer' kind of guy ..

Not only could he not have built it, he could not have tested it... and the fact that he gave up his job to pursue this says much ..

As for patenting it .. id love to see the 'working model'

Re:One question (5, Interesting)

djk1024 (1209862) | about 5 years ago | (#29346877)

I love this question! I'm a big fan of virtual and augmented reality. One day I was noodling around with the concept of virtual gloves, when it struck me that all that was needed for a good representation of hand movement was to track the tip of the fingers and then interpolate the joints. This isn't a wholly new idea, but it got me thinking about how you'd track the tip of the finger. Conventional RF measures like flight time are not really feasible for such a short distance. But it occurred to me that if I had a transmitter on the wrist and a receiver on the finger tip, then after achieving a base phase, I could accurately track movement by movement within the phase of the wave form. And simple interferometry delivers accuracy to almost any level. And all of those conjectures just came out my my thinking about electronics in naive wave forms. I then went to experts in the field that confirmed my speculation. I then did a couple months of due diligence: Was it really a fiable solution, what's the catch. Why hasn't anyone else done this. When I finally satisfied myself that it was viable, unique. I then was able to round up a professional acquaintance who does RF design for a living work me up a simple proof-of-theory prototype. I've then spent the rest of my time doing competitive analysis and refining the patent.

mod d0wN (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346177)

lubrica7ion. You [goat.cx]

Great idea (4, Insightful)

FrankSchwab (675585) | about 5 years ago | (#29346221)

Great idea.

With RF, you also eliminate issues with hiding the normal lights/reflectors with clothing/costumes, etc. As I understand at the moment, motion capture is done with an actor in a leotard to avoid these problems. With RF, you open up new possibilities of filming a real actor in real costume, and being able to motion detect them in real time. I'm not quite sure what you'd do with it, but that's why I'm an engineer and not a "creative" type.

Frankly, you need help. You're not going to successfully develop a product from this on your own. Give up on the "lone wolf" approach - you're not gonna make it.

Find a VC who understands the motion picture industry, and has contacts there. Sell out, keeping whatever percentage you can. Let the VC help you find the managers and developers necessary to take this to the next level - either as a standalone product or a technology for sale.

Alternatively, take what you have to ILM or Pixar or Disney or whoever. You'll have to find someone who knows someone who knows someone to do this; once again, a VC could help you with that.

JMHO.

/frank

Re:Great idea (2, Interesting)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 5 years ago | (#29346381)

Great idea.

With RF, you also eliminate issues with hiding the normal lights/reflectors with clothing/costumes, etc. As I understand at the moment, motion capture is done with an actor in a leotard to avoid these problems. With RF, you open up new possibilities of filming a real actor in real costume, and being able to motion detect them in real time.

Using RF for mo-cap is not a new idea. Generally speaking, previous forms of mocap that used RF (in a variety of ways) has had problems with reliability, working with multiple actors in a volume, interference, and an already very mature toolset for performing optical capture. With optical, trackers are dirt cheap and scaling up to support more actors is mainly a matter of more processing power and sometimes adding more cameras.

I hope for his sake that his capture system is thoroughly tested in real world situations (like the fifty or so stage crew all using walkie talkies and everybody having cell phones running) and accounted for all the variables. If he hasn't, he'll easily be looked over.

Re:Great idea (4, Informative)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 5 years ago | (#29346399)

Sorry to reply to my own post, but I may have been too quick on the draw to reply. I'm sitting here thinking he wants to take over Hollywood when maybe all he's after is an inexpensive personal one-on-one mocap system that small companies could use to capture one or two people. In that case, he can throw what I said above out the window.

I apologize for my knee-jerk reaction.

Re:Great idea (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | about 5 years ago | (#29346761)

New biometrics? Fingerprint, iris, movement patterns?

Re:Great idea (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | about 5 years ago | (#29346397)

I would think that security companies would be more appropriate candidates than Pixar/Disney.

That point aside, I agree with one of the posts toward the beginning: sell the patent and jump on-board as an employee. Odds are that as head-techie, you've had managerial experience, but it's questionable how much experience you have guiding the sales and marketing folk.

Re:Great idea (1)

Zordak (123132) | about 5 years ago | (#29346513)

If you go to ILM or Pixar or Disney, remember that they probably won't sign your NDA. They may have their own NDA that they'll sign, but it won't be very friendly to you. It will quite possibly say, "We have every right to rip off your idea and use it without the smallest compensation unless you actually get a patent on it." This protects them because they may already have a guy in the back room working on the same technology before you ever show up. If your patent doesn't work out, they don't want to deal with you if they end up using this technology (and if it does, you don't need the NDA).

Find a VC if you can, and then with the money, you can hire a management team and bring in the lawyers. But bottom line is you need capital for your primary business of living, and that may mean doing something more mundane in the meantime. I'm sure your idea is brilliant, but you've still got to eat. The smartest guy I've ever had in my office was completely broke because he'd spent 10 years of his life developing a brilliant technology that is way ahead of its time. He has an issued patent now, but as far as I know, most creditors don't accept patents as a form of remuneration. Maybe someday he'll be rich. If brilliance matters, he certainly deserves to be. But as far as I know, he still isn't.

Customers as your funding (4, Insightful)

dixon1e (620788) | about 5 years ago | (#29346223)

Techies starting companies tend to only focus on the technology as a game changer, without capturing the essence of being an entrepreneur. It sounds trite, but you really have to remember all you are trying to do is sell something to someone that really needs it. So have said that: 1) You've got to know who you are selling to and what you are selling 2) There must be an innovation at the core (you seem to have this) 3) You have to be able to mind everything else, which is why you need at least one trusted partner, and no, that doesn't mean a friend or work colleague - often a huge mistake of choices. Read a lot of what Union Square Ventures have to say: http://unionsquareventures.com/ [unionsquareventures.com] Now, with the tiny slice of information you've offered, you may have customers in a wide variety of industries, not just entertainment. What about Health Care? How about Sports (teaching golf swings for example). By working up a sales plan (not a technology plan) several times over (there are many processes for doing this, you'll find out) you will get a much better idea of who will really pay as customers to help fund your venture. Customer money is very good money for a start up.

partner (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346229)

Sounds like you need a business partner. I would suggest that you (a) first get a job so that you don't feel like you are strained and that this project is draining the life out of you and (b) need to find someone who is more "business focused" so that they can complement your strengths. No reason that you have to do everything alone. You bring certain strengths to the table and so will someone else. Find someone who is passionate about your idea, share some equity with them, and this can continue as a great project on the weekends until you start making money at it and can afford to have it support you while you work on it full time.

Make a strategic decision to put yourself in a stronger position to succeed. Then working on it won't feel as burdensome and you will have more fun and energy to put back into the project.

Good luck!

Business Plan (1)

mocat15 (1612487) | about 5 years ago | (#29346247)

I would recommend reading a book that I am currently trying to finish myself:

The Portable MBA in Entrepreneurship by Bygrave and Zacharakis

Some advise to provide:

1. You'll need to get funding. If not Angel investors, then find a way to get cash (part-time job?)

2. In order to get funding, you WILL need a business plan. There are tons of books and resources that can help you draft a great concise business plan to help convince the Angels or VC to invest in your invention.

Also, the business plan will help you plan out if the product will be profitable and also plans for growth.

Because you seem to articulate that you are "up against a brick wall", unsure what to do next, I would advise you to invest your time now into writing this plan.

Best of luck to you, pal!

Re:Business Plan (1)

mocat15 (1612487) | about 5 years ago | (#29346291)

I wasn't trying to sound nasty, btw.

Just trying to wish luck.

Re:Business Plan (1)

Billy the Mountain (225541) | about 5 years ago | (#29346819)

Yep, I agree with the folks that have mentioned business plans. One of the neat things about a business plan is you get to look at all of the possibilities of how your idea, as a product or service, will earn you money. Part of this process is an attempt at assessing exactly how big the market is, which would lead in to a guess at how many units you will sell. Then when you get to decide what the price will be, you can start to get a ballpark for what the idea is worth. Now granted, these are all rough guesses and, but it gets you started. (Ideally, these would be things you'd start thinking about before you embark on a project of this magnitude. and if you have, already then great, write it down in your business plan.)

BTM

Pretty much... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346251)

bullcrap!

If the idea was that good:
1. you certainly wouldn't be asking /. for help
2. You wouldn't cry about being neither an electrical nor an RF guy (HTF did you develop it?)
3. cry about doing it alone. Sounds like you really ain't done nothin' yet!

uh ... (-1, Troll)

Helen_waite (1057252) | about 5 years ago | (#29346263)

1. beg, borrow, or steal.
2. sell your soul to the devil.
3. go to Niger and scam stupid people.
4. let me write you a check.
5. feed the trolls.

Helen

start-up help (1)

kryptonym (895823) | about 5 years ago | (#29346265)

Read "The Art of the Start". Check out SVASE (google them). If it's really a good idea, you will be able to get help.

Venture Capital, anyone? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 5 years ago | (#29346271)

It should be still available. And assuming poster is from the US, plentiful available. If the invention is really innovative, useful and simple, then it sounds like a no-brainer to me to commercialise it. And that's where the VC firms come in play: they have the capital and expertise to build an actual business around your invention. They will also be able to help you with patent applications and the like.

I wouldn't be too afraid to disclose the idea to them: just don't tell all the details. Just the basics. VC people are businessmen, not techies in general, so they won't understand the technical finesses anyway.

The fact that you spent years of your own time and money on it is quite impressive, though I would also call it naive. It is too long. It does show your commitment but you should have gotten a prototype of the invention working long time ago (otherwise you're doing something wrong from the start), and that is the time when you will want to go out to attract the capital you need to actual hire some specialists to further develop your invention.

Patent cost (1)

shadowblaster (1565487) | about 5 years ago | (#29346315)

As someone who is doing it alone, patent costs can be quite significant. Not only for the filing fee but for the annual "maintenance fee".

Failing to maintain your patent means it will lapse and becomes public domain.

Why did you quit? (1)

azav (469988) | about 5 years ago | (#29346327)

Use your job to fund your private efforts. This is what I do. Now, you've filed your patent but you'll probably wait up to 7 years to see it granted. Several friends of mine have filed over 30 last year. They still work their day jobs. Make sure you are ok and funded to be able to work towards what you want. I don't understand why you quit your job when this was your money source. Everything takes longer and costs more than you plan it will. Plan accordingly and then realize your plan is not enough.

check GrokLaw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346339)

goto www.groklaw.net

on the right is an article
# Open Invention Network's Distinguished Inventors Patent Acquisition Program

link:
http://www.openinventionnetwork.com/press_release08_03_09.php

Where's the Patent #? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346347)

The patent filing should be public knowledge. Where's the patent #...? You should at least let the /. crowd examine your patent... Unless, of course, you're afraid of it being ripped to shreds...

Filed way too late. (2, Informative)

Solder Fumes (797270) | about 5 years ago | (#29346383)

You've spent two years on this, and only now getting into the patent? You should be prepared for disappointment. The odds are very high that someone has already patented your exact idea, especially if it's something that you could figure out with no prior RF electronics experience. It's difficult to let go of something that you've put your heart into for so long, but you need to be prepared to do that if you run into problems. Otherwise it could drag you even further down.

Re:Filed way too late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346505)

Yes, working alone sucks! And that will drag you down too, sapping productivity and blinding you to obvious errors. Find an RF person and offer them a nice chunk of it to work out the details or have the honesty to tell you to pull the plug.

Great ideas are easy to come by. Implementation is the hard part: Reliable and complete design with parametric proof, certification, manufacturability, reliability, opening a market, quality control, timely production, and customer service are where the real work will show up.

Unlike software, complicated hardware is hard to revise once it is in the hands of consumers, so your beta tests are all the more important. You will need a cadre of trusted associates to help with this.
Then you will need accounting, and the like, so get used to the idea that this will cost you a lot out of pocket before you see any result.
Chances are you can't sell it until you have a dependable prototype, so that RF person would seem to be your first priority. Or who knows--maybe it is precisely the thing ILM is waiting for.

I didn't quite get it (1)

ugen (93902) | about 5 years ago | (#29346435)

So, the idea is "simple enough that a sophisticated hobbyist could build one in a couple weekends from plans and standard electronics" and yet you are "not an electrical or RF guy so I can't carry out my own independent development on the electronics".

This does not jive. If it is quite so simple, being a "software guy" is not much of an impediment. You should be able to learn as much as a "sophisticated hobbyist", in particular in 2 years - that electronics stuff isn't all that hard, in particular at hobby level.

Either your idea is not quite so simple, or there are problems with it that prevent it from being actually implemented. Either way - if you can't do it - no one else will do it for you, unless you pay them.

Re:I didn't quite get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346781)

It's possible that he's built a simple prototype (hence the 1mm accuracy claim) with off-the-shelf parts, but wants to develop it into something smaller and simpler.

Scour nearby Amateur Radio clubs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346441)

You may be surprised by the number of Radio Amateurs (a.k.a.: "Hams"),
who were or - in some cities - are Electronics Engineers.

You might find someone between jobs or just interested in your project.

PS Didn't you have to have a -working- model to demonstrate to the
Patent Office, ie, before a patent could be issued on your invention?

Money and RF knowledge (1)

nethenson (1093205) | about 5 years ago | (#29346471)

So, from what you say, you need two things: more money and someone who has RF knowledge.

Money
* Day-job: get one and work on your project on your free time (or wait until you have saved enough money, and work on your project full time)
* Rich guys: Investors, VCs, a patent-buyer.

And about the RF knowledge
* A partner: you both will work for free and you will share the future benefits
* A hired RF guy: you pay him, and you get all the future benefits.
* If you opt by the rich guys, they may help you under their own terms.

But also remember that you already have a very valuable thing: you have been in several startups, so you have experienced that there is a boring part -paying bills, marketing,...- that has to be done, and more important, you also know the people behind that startups, who will be able to help you and provide with you good advice (much better than mine) and contacts.

In fact, forget this comment and call them.

What a douche (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346629)

So you've got a "great idea" about how to do this but you're "not an RF guy". $50 says your "great idea" is one of the following:

  • not been tried, because it ignores the fundamental laws of electromagentism (your specs point this way - 1mm resolution typically implies a similar RF wavelength; are you planning to microwave your users?)
  • not been tried, because it requires things that are unrealistic (a totally shielded room, no interference/reflections, etc.)
  • already been tried, and doesn't work
  • already been tried and patented - people have been working with RF for almost 100 years. If you're not nuking your users with microwaves, you're probably re-inventing the Theremin.

Note that even trying to find your application turns up a number of older apps (2007 and 2004) that seem to have the same idea.

Simple Clear Steps. (1)

BlackBloq (702158) | about 5 years ago | (#29346671)

Watch dragons den. 1. You need to build a working prototype if you can't build one you are a dreamer , not an inventor. 2.Get patented (get a lawyer) 3. Establish a small test market. 4. Sell/Expand

Biz World (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 5 years ago | (#29346703)

Start learning and planning, even if rough on "the money". Call SCORE from the phone book. They have an inexpensive CD on preparing a business plan. Taylor it to your field.

Start talking to people. People in tech companies, VCs, management groups, banks, attorneys who handle mergers and aquisitions, professional groups that meet on tech subjects. Find people who are interested, knowledgable and willing to offer advice or a reference to another person or company. A month of serious contacts will turn up amazing people, and links to other people.

The numbers part of any plan are where investors and managers are most interested to judge whether a "product" can return income to pay for their involvement. VC's generally know that they have to fund 6-10 companies to get one that returns enough to pay for the other 5-9 that don't make it. In spite of their years in the "business" they will likely admit they can predict which of the 10 will be a big deal, and thus they can't really tell if yours will be "BIG" or "not".

It takes a lot of connections. Move on them with data, diagrams, and an analysis of the existing products both commercial and freeware.

Paul Graham (2, Interesting)

sukotto (122876) | about 5 years ago | (#29346773)

If I had something like this, I would call up Paul Graham at Y Combinator [ycombinator.com] ... This is the sort of thing he (angel) invests in.

Disclaimer: I don't have a business relationship with those guys. I just find his articles really insightful and interesting. You might too. Start with this one The 18 mistakes that kill startups [paulgraham.com] ... Being a "Single Founder", like yourself, is his first point.

Good luck! I hope you find a lot of success in this

Don't go it alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346779)

I am of the opinion that it will take a second person. Often there seems to many companies where the sum of the pieces are
greater than the pieces alone.

If we look at SUN, Microsoft, Google and Apple. There seems two founders. One person to for the "money" side and one person to do tech work. I don't think it is possible to stay focused on both of these issues at the same time.

        Apple had both Jobs and Wozniak.

        Microsoft had Paul Allen and Bill Gates.

        Sun had Bill Joy and Scott McNealy.

        Google had Brin and Page.

"Technology" is a red-herring (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29346811)

You are attempting to develop a product, and therefore a business to sell the product. That's really the only thing that is important.

It doesn't matter whether that product is a piece of gear, a software program, a movie, a book, a web site, etc, the basic considerations are the same.

You need resources to develop the product. In the case of a physical good, you need raw materials to built test units with, you need people to build the units, you need electricity to power the units, you need time to build the units, and you may need additional people to assist you to meet realistic timeframes.

Once you've built them, you need even more resources to be able to build a business selling them.

There are many ways to obtain the resources you need...

  • Go back and get another job. Use the income to survive, and set some of it aside to use for developing your product in your spare time.
  • Borrow money to buy the resources you need to finish building the product. This includes trying to borrow from a rich friend, or from a bank.
  • Expand your team (add people), and ask for them to help you find ways of getting access to the resources the team needs, if they are better at that.
  • Engage in litigation to obtain resources. E.g. if you have obtained a patent, look for other people who might be practicing your patent. However, you require lawyers and may need significant cash reserves to do this.
  • Sell other excessive resources you have acquired or generated that are not essential in reaching your goal.
  • Let investors take a stake in your business. Use their capital to acquire needed resources.
  • Start another line of business that requires fewer resources, if the other line of business is successful, revisit the original line of business at a later date (a company can use profits from one activity to assist in financing the other potentially more-profitable but harder-to-develop product).

You're going to patent something . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29346821)

And you asked Slashdot for advice?

. . .

I'm surprised no one's just flat-out said "Fuck off, traitor."

Wait.. (1)

4D6963 (933028) | about 5 years ago | (#29346825)

Wait a second, are you saying that you quit your day job to work on this for two years, without any plan as to how you're going to make money out of this, and only now that you're out of money you're worrying about this?

Might be obvious, but all that matters is that you find a new techie job right now. THEN look for someone to buy/pick up what you've done (and good luck with that).

Find an incubator company (1)

Ixitar (153040) | about 5 years ago | (#29346849)

An incubator company is setup to deal with your situation. I am currently working at one. Please contact me and I will put you in contact with the president of our company.

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