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Patents and technological progress

I have been following the recent patent battle between Samsung and Apple, which to me has just confirmed how outdated and perverted the patent system is in this day and age.

Patents were meant to stimulate technological progress, by granting the holder of a patent the exclusive rights to their invention in exchange for the public disclosure of said invention. Other people could use the disclosed knowledge to further leverage technological development, but could not monetise on it straight away. This system gave developers the incentive to invest money in technological development, while ensuring maximum progress by sharing the newfound knowledge.

The validity of patents has remained relatively unchanged since the Industrial Revolution; in fact it has gone from 14 to 20 years validity over that time frame. Technological progress however moves at an exponential rate, mainly because we leverage our knowledge standing on the foundations of knowledge uncovered by the generations before us. It doesn’t take a brilliant mind to realise that the term of validity is no longer congruent with the rate at which technology progresses nowadays. In fact, it is so incongruent that patents actually hamper the rate of technological progress.

This issue is compounded by the reality that companies can trade in patents, which has resulted in the existence of companies whose sole purpose is to acquire lone patents and create a big package which they then sell off to the large corporations. Those large corporations will then utilise those sets of patents to try and block off the competition, which brings us back to the first paragraph.

An additional issue with patents is that it is absolutely pointless for an individual to protect their invention with a patent if they will not be able to afford the costs of defending their rights in court. A battle that cannot possibly be won if one has to defend it from the large corporations, as they have a lot of patience and capital and will simply outlast you ā€“ it is not about who is right at all.

As long as patents can be traded (note: Iā€™m not talking about licensing), the period of validity remains unchanged, and the individual isn’t protected from the might of the large corporations, patents are a farce that achieve the exact opposite of why they were created in the first place.

Arduino electronics prototyping platform

Considering how often I dabble with electronics, I figured it would be a good idea to buy an Arduino. For those unfamiliar with the Arduino: it is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. I’m hoping that it will expedite any future initial prototyping and (user) testing I do. Worst case scenario: I found a new hobby. šŸ˜›

Arduino uno
On a related more rambling note: considering the trend to move from through-hole components to surface mounted devices (SMD), I wonder what effect that will have on the hobby and prototyping market. I have come across a few components that were only available in SMD form, which makes testing a bit trickier; after all you cannot use a simple breadboard and are forced to resort to etching techniques.

Youth interested in electronics may encounter a higher entry level to start experimenting with electronics and considering the general aversion towards beta courses, that is something you’d want to avoid no?

Progress report

Benchmark banner design

As promised, here are a few concrete results of the assignment. The banner design featuring elements of the new corporate identity has been photoshopped into the actual surrounding, to give the client a better impression of the final result.

Summer job

Benchmark Electronics‘ lead designer contacted me today with an interesting job offer for this summer. The job consists of graphic design based consultancy regarding the corporate identity and marketing strategies of Benchmark Electronics. Graphic design is an integral part of the multidiscipline that is industrial design engineering, so this job offers a nice playground for my skills.

New graphic elements will be introduced, which will be tested by creating creating several large banners sized 2.5x4m, to be positioned at various places in the company building. It will be the first time for me to create visualisations on such a large scale, which is pretty awesome. I hope to be able to update you on the results soon.

Looking for an internship in the UK

At the moment I’m just finishing up the last subjects, and I’m actively looking for a postgraduate internship in the UK to finish my Master’s degree. I noticed that for some odd reason a lot of sites offering internships in the UK do not have a section for engineering. O_o

In a country with a long list of big design firms such as IDEO, Dyson, Seymourpowell, Tangerine, Native, PDD Group, Arup, Creactive, JKR, Babcock International, Designit, Curventa, ?What If!, etcetera, one does hope for amazing (internship) opportunities and experiences.

I’m open for any leads and/or tips, so if you know someone who knows someone who knows someone, let me know please.

Masterpieces Industrial Design Engineering

Bachelor of Science degree

Today I had my final bachelor presentation including exam and defence, to evaluate the result of my assignment as well as my general performance at Benchmark Electronics. It was about time I finished my bachelor to be honest: I had nearly completed all of my master subjects already. >_>

The presentation went very well; both the university and the company awarded me a 9 out of 10. As a present, the lead designer gave me his copy of “The Art of Innovation” by Tom Kelley – lessons in creativity from IDEO, America’s leading design firm. It’s a book I was planning to buy, and I really appreciated the gesture. If you are not familiar with IDEO or their approach to product development, here is a link to ABC’s Nightline “The Deep Dive” from 1999 documenting an example of IDEO’s creative process.

Working at Benchmark Electronics was a great experience: the people were very nice and helpful, and I am really thankful for the experience I gained there and all the opportunities they offered me. šŸ™‚

AED/CPR refresher course

AED/CPR refresher course

I’m about to head out for the annual AED and CPR refresher course. Living in a rural area where medical aid may take a tad longer than desired, AEDs are placed in strategic locations to use in time of emergency. Even though they come with written or even spoken instructions, it is useful to familiarise yourself with the AED – especially considering how many different types are out there. Of course, AED and CPR go hand in hand, so CPR is covered in the course as well.

An incident in London during my last visit made me aware how important it is to be able to fall back on knowledge and experience in case of emergency. Knowing how to check for signs of heart arrest, how to clear the airways, what information the emergency service’s phone operator is after, etcetera — it is very reassuring to know how to (re)act.

Website address change

Just a small notification: today I moved my portfolio to a different URL. It is merely a cosmetic change to better reflect the fact that this is a portfolio site. Carry on..

Rapid prototyping

Pretty awesome: last week Christian Suurmeijer, the lead designer at Benchmark Electronics, approved my design to be rapid prototyped. After a week of negotiating prices with several companies, today I received a big box with all the components for my model. ^^

SLS was the technique chosen for the model since SLA fell slightly out of the budget, so I will have to spend a bit more time sanding stuff down to achieve the surface quality I’m after. Sadly my time at the company is nearing its end, but this is such a great opportunity that I’ll gladly free up time to do the extra work and hopefully also manage to collect user feedback to include in my report documenting the project. Ah exciting times! šŸ™‚

Volkswagen Beetle

Braaaakess

Don’t get me wrong, I really love my old Volkswagen Beetle, but between you and me: I think it was trying to kill me this morning. >_>

This morning the brakes failed on me, so I need to spend some time this weekend to try and fix that. As with any older car, my Beetle has had its fair share of issues. The beauty of an older car however is that you can fix the vast majority of those issues yourself. There is also something very gratifying about working on your car and seeing your hard labour pay off, though that feeling of satisfaction is even better on days when your car doesn’t try to kill you. :p

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My blog describes events from my life related to design and engineering. Hopefully it will give you more insight into my work processes and personal interests.

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