Inventive ideating

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Jem Stansfield trawls through archives to search the best inventions, never been made, and see them on a journey of completion with his co-host, in Make me a millionaire inventor

Successes and failuresGreat engineers, incredible inventions
Successes and failuresGreat engineers, incredible inventions

We know of the world’s greatest inventions, such as Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone, Thomas Alva Edison’s inventions of the electric light-bulb and phonograph, among others. But what about some of the best inventions, never made?

Mechanical engineers Jem Stansfield and Dr. Shini Somara endeavour to dig up inventions that have never seen the light of day, due to some problem or the other, and complete them in their show Make Me a Millionaire Inventor . They trawl through the archives of Great Britain, to select inventions. They next track down the inventors and pay them a surprise visit.

In a telephonic conversation, Jem speaks of the specific inventions he was looking at. “I was trying to keep an open mind. I wondered if I were to make this invention, what would it be like?”

What was the most common reason for the inventions falling through? “More often than not, life got in the way. Once they got older they didn’t have the time and resources to see their inventions through. Some had an engineering idea missing; others had children and so couldn’t devote much time,” explains Jem.

Speaking of some of the inventors, Jem says: “Stephen invented electric pedals for bicycles, which help you to push the bicycle on. He had done everything. He did an incredible job. He is a great engineer, but not a great artist. He only needed a little help from a designer to make the pedals look nicer. Another man, who suffers from travel sickness, invented a pair of sunglasses that helps prevent travel sickness. When he tested the glasses, he found they work and today he travels all over the world.”

An inventor these days, says Jem, has to be adept at a number of skills. “He has to be a thinker, a salesman, an artist, a showman.” Jem has a degree in aeronautics and is an inventor. He developed the world’s first air-powered motorcycle. He also drove a modified 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco from London to Manchester using coffee granules for fuel.

In 2010, Jem invented “Spiderman style” climbing gloves, using which he climbed a 30-feet brick wall. But he never made the gloves into a product. “The gloves are only as good as the building. I was very worried that somebody would be seriously injured!”

Jem says he comes up with ingenious ideas because he never stops thinking. “It could be anything, even a conversation with somebody. The thought stays in my head and I mull over it. The more you know, the more ideas you get,” he signs off.

Make me a Millionaire Inventor is aired from Monday to Thursday at 9 p.m. on Discovery Science.

He has to be a thinker, a salesman, an artist, a showman




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