You might think that the “selfie stick” was invented a few years ago, but it turns out the original was designed over 30 years ago. Like so many inventors, Hiroshi Ueda from Japan created a product to solve a problem.
While on vacation in Paris, he asked the youth to take a picture of his family at a famous monument, and the youth ran off with his camera instead. Ueda thought it would be great if he had a device he could attach to his camera to take his own pictures.
BBC News explains that his “telescopic extender stick” was an extendable stick with a tripod screw that was built for use with a new, small, camera. He added a mirror to the front of the camera so that photographers could frame the photo properly He was so convinced the selfie stick would be a hit, he applied for a US patent, and 2 years later it was approved.
The extender stick didn’t take off commercially, but Ueda continued to use it. His patent expired in 2003, about 4 years before the launch of the iPhone. Today selfie sticks are so prevalent that they are being banned in some public places for fear their use may result in property damage or injury.
Even still, Ueda has a good attitude about being ahead of the times. “My idea came too early, but that’s just one of those things,” he told the BBC. “We call it a 3 am invention…it arrived too early.”
From Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs, inventors have enhanced and improved our lives immeasurably. The inspiring book The Art of Invention by Steven J. Paley explores the psyche of these innovative individuals and summarizes what sets them apart from the rest of us.
Paley also outlines the three characteristics that define a great invention- simplicity, elegance, and robustness. Great creations typically have a simplistic way of solving a real-world problem. Often these solutions are right in front of us, but it takes an imaginative individual to bring the answer to light. The lowly paperclip comes to Paley’s mind as a case in point.
The process of the invention includes devising an idea for the “next big thing,” designing the product, conceptualizing a marketing plan, and selecting a production mechanism. Many times creative individuals have a great idea but aren’t sure how to proceed.
Paley offers guidance and shares examples on how to take your idea and turn it into a reality.