Saturday, 19 November 2011

Smoke detectors

many things were invented by accidental discoveries...

Duane Pearsall did not intend to create a smoke detector in 1965 - instead he was trying to measure static electricity in a dark room.

The smoke detector was invented from an experiment that appeared to have gone wrong He became irritated when the device, which was measuring the concentration of ions, went off every time his assistant lit a cigarette. For Pearsall, it meant he had to start his experiment all over again.

That is, until he realised he had a useful tool on his hands - one that eventually led to the creation of the first battery-powered home smoke detector.

It is claimed the device has saved about 50,000 lives.

The "a-ha moment" between creation and innovation is a "brilliant process", says Jeff Woolf, two-time British inventor of the year.

Many inventors and researchers will have created a solution for a long-researched problem. But there has to be a leap from creating something for one reason, only to realise it can be used for another.

"That has happened many times in the past," says Woolf.

That's where real creativity comes from, he says. To leap from noticing that cigarette setting off a static electricity monitor - to realising it could be used to help save people.

"He could have just left it. The real innovation is taking that thought and using it.

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