How do I implement an idea for a new gadget?

I have an idea for a new electronics product that I haven’t yet seen in my local marketplace and after searching around the Internet I can’t find anyone who has developed my product or one close to it yet.

Now here’s my conundrum, I want to develop my product but I don’t know how to go about getting started. I don’t think I can design and build it myself because despite my IT degree, I only have limited knowledge about electrical engineering.

So does anyone have any idea how I might get it started? Should I approach a post-graduate engineering department of the local Universities? Or is that a bad idea? Or should I just scrap the idea entirely and just submit the plans to all the major electronics companies on the off-chance that one might decide to do it and I forfeit any chance of profiting.

Is it patentable? Then you’re protected against someone ripping you off. Well, not if it’s patentable, but if it’s patentable and you secure the patent.

Do you have any friends with the relevant expertise? - it would mean sharing the glory - I wouldn’t go splashing the idea around too much until a) you’re reasonably sure it will work and b) you’ve patented it.

Firstly, try to patent it. If you are successful, you can then * sell * the idea to a manufacturer - you don’t have to build the item yourself.

You won’t make as much money if it really takes off, but you could get a decent enough wad of cash…

Thanks for the advice. I’ll formalise my idea and approach a patent attorny.

I think it is true to say though, that a patent doesn’t automatically protect you from copycats, it just gives you a channel of legal recourse, but if, say, Sony steals your idea and puts it into production, you might find it prohibitively expensive pursuing your rights.

(not that Sony would do such a thing, or even dream of it, I hasten to add)

You might want to read this thread where the cost of filing is estimated from $10K to $20K.

Or this thread where I expressed my view that it is not worth your time or money.

BTW, I have at least a half a dozen ideas right now I’d be happy to give away just for the pleasure of seeing them done. One of them I mentioned in that other thread. My latest idea is a toy encrypting machine based on the German Enigma. I am not even trying to find someone who’ll do it but I may decide to build some prototypes myself just for kicks.

Ignoring the legal issues (not that you’d want to do that) you might try the engineering departments of local Universities. In the States, all accredited undergraduate programs are required to have a “major design experience”, which usually means that students in thier senior year design and build, as a team, relatively complex products. Many Universities supply design projects by soliciting industry for “real-life” ideas. Cost ranges from free to ~$1500. I would guess (although I’m by no means sure) that Australia has some sort of similar system. Professional companies would probably do a better development job, but at a much greater cost. Might be worth looking into, should you decide to do further development.

[IMHO territory]
For the lone, “outsider” inventor working in his garage, the patent system is almost always a rip off. Run – don’t walk – from anything even remotely related to “patents.”
[/IMHO territory]

Here are some threads to keep you busy:

I’m in a similar situation myself. I have a great design but no means of producing it myself. This site has some darn good articles for beginning inventors.

The steps in creating a product from a new idea are:[list=1]
[li]Acquire a lot of money.[/li][li]Spend all the money on patent attorneys, filing fees, prototypes, manufacturing costs, warehousing, marketing & distribution, etc.[/li][li]Cross your fingers, and hope your gadget is popular enough to cover your expenses.[/li][/list=1]

Me too, I just came up with a brainstorm last week. It involves a slight modification to an existing popular product.
Don`t know what to do next though. I was going to call a patent attorney and get some advice.
I found this to be somewhat helpful.
Others I have talked to have said that it is a pain in the ass.

I wonder how so many new products appear on the market if that is the case.

My former roommate works for a little company called Colorado Electronic Product Design (CEPD) and they often made little electronic devices for customers. If you can write up a one or two page description of what the thing is and what it does, you may be able to find a similiar small embedded systems company to make you a prototype of the device. It may not be cheap. I would guess between $500 and $5000 depending on what it does and how complicated it needs to be.

This is essentially the same thing as submitting the project to a college to have college students work on, except it’s more expensive and more likely to actually get a working device into your hands in a reasonable time frame.

In the case of my own engine design I suspect my best option is to try and lease it to one of the manufacturers of model airplane engines or yard equipment since I doubt I could get through all the hassle of getting a a car manufacturer to even look at it.

Even if the car makers looked at it, they still wouldn’t pay you anything for it. The guy invented the intermittant wipers found out the hard way. They told him they weren’t interested, and then proceeded to copy his design (using his patent). He took them to court, and ended up going all the way to the SCOTUS, only to have them award him damages less than his legal bills. To be honest, I doubt if the others would treat you any differently.

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking because years ago in my electrical engineering subjects my team had to design and build (from the ground up) an embedded circuit PC-controlled climtate control system… definitely not as sophisticated as my device but still indicative of what undergrads are capable of.

IMHO but still a valid point, I have read through a bunch of the suggested links and websites and I’m beginning to think a patent is probably not a good investment of my time and money at this point.

I don’t know about the USA but in Australia they won’t grant a permit for a variation - it has to be a truly innovative implementation of new or existing technology/process.

I’ve located an awesome small-scale manufacturing company in my local area who can build pretty much anything (i.e. electrical, industrial, plastics, models, surgical, whatever) but they generally require existing plans either on paper or as computer files… so those would be the guys I would approach… I just need to get the plans done up first. :confused: Maybe I can do something with Uni students and then the manufacturing co.

You’ve all been very helpful, I’ve got lots to think about but that’s good because I was stuck at a brickwall when I first posted my problem. Thanks!

The guy that invented the brickwall appreciates the reference.

Smart man.

You’ve probably heard the following story: There was 16 years old boy who wanted to smoke cigarettes. His father got wind of this. Instead of getting upset, his father said, “Son, I have no problem with you smoking under one condition: you must first find five smokers who were happy that they started smoking.” So the boy set out to find these smokers. He couldn’t find one person. Suffice to say, he decided not to take up smoking.

Same goes for patents. To the lone “inventor” with a good idea, I say this: Before you pursue the patent route, go out and find five similar inventors who filed for a patent and thought it was worthwhile. As with the smoking example, I am confident you’ll have an extremely difficult time finding just one. This should tell you something…

Yeah, that’s why I think model airplane engine makers are my best bet.