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Bootstrapping a New Technology? 360

Posted by kdawson
from the research-in-motion dept.
djk1024 writes "I've just filed for a patent on a new approach to motion capture that is simple, cheap, easy, accurate, and portable. It's RF-based, accurate to 1 mm, and simple enough that a sophisticated hobbyist could build one in a couple weekends from plans and standard electronics. So now what? I quit my job and have been working on this full-time for the past couple of years; now I'm out of money so can't continue development on my own. I'm also not an electrical or RF guy so I can't carry out my own independent development on the electronics. I'm quite frustrated at this point. I've been in the software development field for over 30 years and have gone through a large number of startups, but always just as the head techie, and always as part of a team. This doing it alone sucks. I would love some advice on how best to go forward."
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Bootstrapping a New Technology?

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  • Sell your patent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:05PM (#29346007) Homepage

    The buyer may offer you a job, which seems to be what you want.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by IANAAC (692242)

      The buyer may offer you a job, which seems to be what you want.

      What buyer? I didn't see mention of any buyer. And if he's seeking a buyer, well, that too takes some know how.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kagetsuki (1620613)
      That's a little hasty, I'd offer an employer free use and licensing rights on the patent for the duration of your employment, and give them a contract guaranteeing them use with a marginal license fee after. There's also the issue of exclusivity, but you should figure out what you want to do with that and possibly talk it over with your future employer.

      Now, I have one question and please don't take this the wrong way: if you system is so simple it would take only a few weekends to build yourself, why is
      • Re:Sell your patent (Score:5, Informative)

        by Zordak (123132) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:47PM (#29346345) Homepage Journal
        Okay, I'm going to be a little anal here. Nothing personal, just trying to make sure that only the best and most precise information is showing up on Slashdot.

        Now, I have one question and please don't take this the wrong way: if you system is so simple it would take only a few weekends to build yourself, why is it taking you so long to develop?

        Development usually takes a lot longer than following somebody else's directions.

        .... If you just filed for a patent you should be patent-pending soon

        If he just filed a patent application, then his thing is "patent pending." As soon as you file, you can call it that.

        which means even if you sell kits or samples the users of your kits/samples will not be able to mass produce all they want - patent pending alone is enough to bring up and win a court case.

        Um, no, that is absolutely not true. You cannot sue on a patent until it issues. Before it issues, you don't even know what the claims are going to be when they issue. In most cases, they get amended during prosecution. So until your patent issues, you can't sue anybody, much less win. There is one thing to be aware of. Once your application is published, if you put a potential infringer on notice of your pending application and if it then issues with substantially the same claims as the ones that were publishes, then after it issues and you sue them, you will be able to get a reasonable royalty going back to when you put them on notice. But you still can't actually sue until the patent issues.

        Also, you don't really need a patent to copyright or license your idea, so why not do that now?

        You can't copyright an idea. You can copyright your description of it, but that doesn't prevent somebody from reading that description and implementing the same idea. It just keeps them from copying your description. Copyrights and patents are not interchangeable.

        I'm a patent attorney, but this post is not legal advice. It's for entertainment purposes only. In other words, if you use a post on Slashdot as legal advice and things go badly for you, (1) you deserve whatever you get, and (2) don't try to sue me.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Kagetsuki (1620613)
          I wasn't trying to say the development process was short, and I'm not quite sure what system the author is developing; but it sounds like the author is perhaps way in over his head. There are many companies that exist solely for the purpose of providing technical assistance in developing new technologies for people with ideas. The Xerox machine for example, the inventor only had an idea and he hired a graduate student to develop it. The company I am a part of provides such development services as well, and
          • Re:Sell your patent (Score:4, Informative)

            by Zordak (123132) on Monday September 07, 2009 @11:29PM (#29346669) Homepage Journal

            I could create software, hardware, an image, a document, an audio recording, it doesn't matter as soon as I create it and release it somehow I automatically get my rights to it. If someone were to copy it, regardless of weather or not I held a patent, I could raise legal action against them (unless I had already released it under a particular license which granted them use).

            Yes, absolutely. But that still doesn't get you where you need to be. For example, let's say that I invent a brilliant new circuit, and do up a nice schematic of it. I have a copyright in that schematic. Maybe I'll even register my copyright. And if you copy the schematic, you infringe my copyright. But if you get a copy of my schematic and build the actual circuit, you have not infringed my copyright. The only way I can keep you from building the circuit is by patenting the circuit.

            The company I am a part of provides such development services as well, and I'm fairly confident if the author claims his system is as simple as he states it is we could have developed it for him into a product for less than $5,000US and in less than a few months.

            You ought to send me your contact info. I sometimes have inventors who need that kind of service. It's nice for them to have options. Contact info. [jw.com]

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              if you get a copy of my schematic and build the actual circuit

              Wouldn't that be a derivative work? I mean it might not be if you followed a carefully monitored clean room reverse engineering process. But if you did literally take the schematic and build the circuit, wouldn't that be derivative?

            • by Anpheus (908711)

              No, if you construct something from copyright, then that is a derivative work as well and infringing.

              If I buy from you a book, and make a copy of said book, that is OK. But if I then sell the copy, then I have infringed on your copyright license to me.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Zordak (123132)

                If you release it and don't tell someone it's patent pending, they can copy it and won't have to pay royalties till the patent comes out. If you put patent-pending on it, you can go to them for retrospective royalties once your patent comes out.

                No, it's not. You can't copyright the functional aspects. In fact, your schematic is just barely copyrightable itself, since its primarily functional. But you put some creativity in how you arrange the pieces and things like that, so you manage to clear the copyright hurdle. While I'm not aware of specific case law, I think it's questionable whether a raw netlist would be copyrightable. That is just the raw facts of which terminals are connected to which nodes. In any case, the functional facts of whi

        • .... If you just filed for a patent you should be patent-pending soon

          If he just filed a patent application, then his thing is "patent pending." As soon as you file, you can call it that.

          Labeling something "patent-pending" does nothing other than make you feel good. It has no legal effect at all.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by rtfa-troll (1340807)

            Labeling something "patent-pending" does nothing other than make you feel good. It has no legal effect at all.

            That's not true. If you release it and don't tell someone it's patent pending, they can copy it and won't have to pay royalties till the patent comes out. If you put patent-pending on it, you can go to them for retrospective royalties once your patent comes out.

            N.B. Exact details a bit fuzzy. I'm not sure if they count as "willful" before the patent issues or not. They certainly will be counted as "willfully" using the patent afterwards.

        • by Khyber (864651)

          "I'm a patent attorney, but this post is not legal advice. It's for entertainment purposes only"

          You have no clue how much you sound like Fox news right now.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Skull_Leader (705927)
          I would agree 100%. As a patent examiner my advice is get an application in, and an application done well the first time through. Once you file, you have a date on record, and that can be a valuable thing. That, and beware who you share your idea with before you get that date. The USPTO has plenty of resources for inventors. Google the web page and read it thoroughly... and hire a reputable IP attorney from an IP focused firm when you are ready... going the pro se route is a recipe for a mess if you've neve
    • by mrmeval (662166)

      Get a job. You've done the classic mistake of abandoning your air supply and now you do not have the resources to make your goal a reality.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by djk1024 (1209862)
      The job I quit was as a software architect for Microsoft, so, no, a job isn't what I'm looking for. I had a pretty good one. I'm afraid that I'm addicted to tech startups. I think I've got a pretty important new thing here and I'm concerned about immediate survival mode until I can get this thing to ignition. And I haven't been looking for a buyer as much as development partners and seed funding.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by alexburke (119254)

        The job I quit was as a software architect for Microsoft, so, no, a job isn't what I'm looking for. I had a pretty good one. I'm afraid that I'm addicted to tech startups. I think I've got a pretty important new thing here and I'm concerned about immediate survival mode until I can get this thing to ignition. And I haven't been looking for a buyer as much as development partners and seed funding.

        Get a job -- any job -- that pays your bills and gives you enough free time to continue working on your project. Convenience store, fast food, call center, whatever. It's inglorious but it'll do until you can rake in the Big Bucks.

  • Know the SCORE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:06PM (#29346015)

    http://www.score.org/index.html [score.org]

    Seriously, get some help. Asking "techies" is, as you probably are quickly finding out, the absolute wrong way to get good business advice.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:34PM (#29346267)

      No, you don't understand. He's looking for a list of things not to do by asking techies, but now you've created a paradox. You fool!

    • by BigSlowTarget (325940) on Monday September 07, 2009 @11:05PM (#29346497) Journal

      You need help for the business side or else someone is going to rip off your idea, make minor changes patent that and commercialize it right out from under you. Since you don't have any staff your the best option might be licensing to someone, but you'll need help to find the right someone. If you don't license you'll need way more people and a VC or other funding source to get it off the ground at any volume. The more revolutionary the product the more you need money to defend it.

      SCORE would be a reasonable place to go. Stay well away from 'invention companies' or at least any that demand up front fees. By filing the patent you've started the clock so you are going to have to move fast. Expect to have two jobs for a while until funding comes through - one job makes money to pay the rent and the other is searching for the right way to harvest this technology.

      The other option might be a partner - IF you know anyone you can trust from your other startups who can deliver the right expertise.

      A quick technical question, could this provide position monitoring for indoor robots or rovers? There's not much in the market, what is there tends to be hacked together and/or expensive.

      • Depending on the application, most robotic tracking devices need sub-millimeter accuracy.

        For example, if the discrimination of the tracking was within 0.001mm for measured position and rotation, there might be application in multi-axis turning or machining centers. Tracking to within 1mm only has robotic applications in large-scale movements such as robotic welders, packaging equipment, etc.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by wvmarle (1070040)

          It depends on what you are tracking.

          If you are tracking the rotation of a wheel or a hinge in the robot itself, then you probably need that high accuracy. The problem of this kind of tracking devices (e.g. measuring rotation of a wheel to get the distance traveled, or a speed difference to try and make out directions or direction changes) is that your robot is basically trying to navigate an environment blindly, guided by a known map.

          However, if you are tracking the movement of the robot relative to it's

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by djk1024 (1209862)
            Most common applications I foresee are for biologic tracking, legs, arms, hoofs, hands and fingers, fins, etc. Because it's wireless RF based most industrial applications would probably introduce too much reflective multipath. And the application has just been submitted and is not yet public, but the title is "Methods, Apparatus and Systems for Wireless Determination of Relative Spatial Relationship between Two Locations."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:07PM (#29346017)

    Put Linux on it, fire up emacs and send a letter to Microsoft telling them to screw themselves.

    Yep, that ought to do it.

  • Patent (Score:5, Funny)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:08PM (#29346031)

    ... and simple enough that a sophisticated hobbyist could build one in a couple weekends from plans and standard electronics.

    If you hadn't patented it, that is. Instead, if a hobbyist tried to do that, you could sue him.

    Thanks.

  • ok (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:10PM (#29346045)

    1. Get a job (solve cash flow situation first)
    2. Preferably somewhere with people you can recruit into your endeavor
    3. Recruit people to help you from your job or from anywhere you can find them (meetup?)
    4. Find investors if money is needed, or do it organically with money from your own job
    5. Finish the prototype/proof of concept
    6. Shop around to interested buyers
    7. Profit?

    Most importantly you need more eyes on what you're doing for the sanity check. People in the business which you will be selling or licensing this to.

    • Re:ok (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zordak (123132) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:50PM (#29346363) Homepage Journal
      You forgot Step 0: Read the employment agreement of your prospective employer. It's entirely possible that if you don't do this, and you follow steps 1 -- 6, step 7 will be "Watch your employer profit and get a hearty pat on the back and a 'Job well done!'"
    • Re:ok (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mindbrane (1548037) on Monday September 07, 2009 @11:14PM (#29346569) Journal

      I managed a +100mil real estate portfolio and my parents made me (paid for) take a lot of courses in economics, business law and accounting, (they had a very straight forward, cogent argument: "if you ever want to see any of our money you'd better know how we got it and how you can hang onto it".) Also I'm in a situation similar to the guy who posted the story.

      My education and business experience lends a few additional points to the parent. * Never take on your lawyer or your accountant as business partners. More generally, and this should even apply to your financial backers, but it's not always feasible, never give an interest in your company to another company, or, someone whose job it is to act in your interests, such as a lawyer or accountant. More generally, try not to place your trust in others when the trust you've placed in them creates a conflict of interest. Personally, I believe in "partners" and agents who have conflicting interests and watch one another as potential antagonists. * Try to keep your initial outlays low. It's very realistic to think you'll realize no more than 10% of your outlay if you're forced to sell off a failed business. * Don't trust a handshake, get it in writing, and, make sure it's an enforceable contract.

      My own personally gleaned bit of advice is to always pay for professional services, hiring reputable firms whose errors & omissions insurance premiums are paid up, then, if they screw up, sue the bastards for all they're worth. Really, I'm deadly serious on this one. Business is a dog eat dog world. Good luck.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arethuza (737069)
        Very sound advice. The only thing I would add is once things start getting complex make sure you have your own personal lawyer who is looking after you not the company. As a founder you tend to regard your own interests and those of the company as being identical - which they are when things are simple. However at a certain point (which may not be that clear at the time) your own interests and those of the company may diverge and at that point the company laywers may turn round and try to screw you. We had
  • Open source? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lawpoop (604919) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:10PM (#29346047) Homepage Journal
    Would you mind just open sourcing this? I've been wanting something like this for a really long time to do an open source movie.

    Right now, artists from a lot of different domains can participate in open-source culture. There's open source music, open source art, open source writing, etc. The one 'media' where creators cannot participate in open source is movement -- dance, martial art, acting, miming, etc -- because there's no cheap way to digitize their work. If you open sourced your work you would change things forever. You would be like the guy who invented the computer or the printing press. I know the American dream is to invent something in your basement and become a millionaire, and I'd like that for you, but maybe things are changing in this day and age.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yea, instead of trying to at a minimum recover his costs, he's just going to open source something that took countless hours of work.

      No, this is *precisely* the kind of thing patents are supposed to protect. I'm sure if you paid him a fair amount of money, he'll grant you the license to open source it yourself if you like.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Open sourcing this is not a bad idea. Why?
      First of all: you've made at least a few mistakes. The most important is that you apparently quit your day job before you had your first serious customer. Having a brilliant product doesn't mean you can live off it. You need people who buy it. The second mistake is related: once you decide to earn a living off your invention, you should spend at least half of your time selling it, not developing. Third mistake: you're "not an electrical or RF guy", but you're doin
      • Re:Open source? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Brian Gordon (987471) on Monday September 07, 2009 @11:41PM (#29346763)

        Well in this case he may be able to start making money immediately.

        Camp out as a street performer. Tape RF emitters to your fingertips. Connect your camera or whatever to your laptop. Turn up laptop speakers to 100%. Rest your hands on a table and start playing the piano with your fingertips and no actual piano.

        I'd imagine that it would be very easy to go from knowing which fingers look depressed to producing tones.

        Extend it to rapidly decelerating drumsticks making thunk noises and you could have a thing going. Drumming on air.

    • The one 'media' where creators cannot participate in open source is movement -- dance, martial art, acting, miming, etc -- because there's no cheap way to digitize their work.

      It's called rotoscoping and all it costs is time. Plus, if you want to recruit people for it, let them know that the more motion they duplicate, the more practical animation experience they'll have.

    • I'm an American, and my current plans for working in the basement involve helping all of humanity without pay or profit and taking the losses of making it happen myself.

      The American Dream is hardly applicable in 2009. (I'm not trying to nit-pick your post at all, by the way. I just want to set an example.)

  • Contradictory? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:13PM (#29346077)

    "RF-based, accurate to 1mm" .... "I'm not an electrical or RF guy"

    So if you don't know the radio technology, how can you know that it is accurate to 1mm and be able to adequately describe the patent for the application?

    • Re:Contradictory? (Score:4, Informative)

      by djk1024 (1209862) <dennisjkrueger@yahoo.com> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:10AM (#29347609)
      Because I had an expert in RF build my prototype and those were his measurements.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by vlm (69642)

        Because I had an expert in RF build my prototype and those were his measurements.

        Most of the posts are about "MBA business plan" type stuff, I'll try to go another direction. You need to get many hours of engineer time via consultation or hire, a RF EE and a machine designer or line designer ME or industrial engineer.

        Ah, so a prototype was built and it worked. That is only about 1/10 of the EEs job. Actually that sounds like something an EE would delegate to a tech. Now you need an RF guy whom can deal with UL listing, modern FCC regulation (if he says "type acceptance", find anothe

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by markov_chain (202465)

      To be honest 1mm accuracy from RF localization sounds waaaaaay unrealistic. Yes I believe it is possible to get it in a clean setup but I don't see how it could work in practice. I really hope he has a silver bullet because otherwise he is wasting his time.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Andy Dodd (701)

        I am an RF engineer and it is realistic, BUT extremely difficult. Not, IMO, realistic for a hobbyist, even a sophisticated one.

        Note that with proper postprocessing and lots of measurements, the GPS system can achieve accuracy close to this ("close" being a single order of magnitude at around 1 cm), and that's on a global scale. With precisely positioned antennas, you can probably do 1mm accuracy over short ranges.

        BUT:
        1) You're going to need millimeter-precision manufacturing AND positioning of all antenn

  • by lawpoop (604919) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:15PM (#29346083) Homepage Journal
    I always thought this was insightful, but never could test that belief: Top Ten Geek Business Myths [blogspot.com]:

    Myth #1: A brilliant idea will make you rich.
    Myth #2: If you build it they will come.
    Myth #3: Someone will steal your idea if you don't protect it.
    Myth #4: What you think matters.
    Myth #5: Financial models are bogus.
    Myth #6: What you know matters more than who you know.
    Myth #7: A Ph.D. means something.
    Myth #8: I need $5 million to start my business
    Myth #9: The idea is the most important part of my business plan.
    Myth #10: Having no competition is a good thing.
    The actual blog has much more in-depth explanations of the myths. And, it has a special Bonus Myth!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by joocemann (1273720)

      Lol. A Ph.D DOES mean something. Get real.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ghostdoc (1235612)

        Lol. A Ph.D DOES mean something. Get real.

        And the awesome response from the article, which I completely agree with...

        Myth #7: A Ph.D. means something.

        Reality: The only thing a Ph.D. means is that you're not a moron, and you're willing to put up with the bullshit it takes to slog your way through a Ph.D. program somewhere. Empirically, having a Ph.D. is negatively correlated with business success. This is because the reward structure in academia is almost the exact opposite of what it is in business. In academia, what your peers think matters. In business, it's what your customers think that matters, and your customers are (almost certainly) not your peers.

        [UPDATE: this is not to say that getting a Ph.D. is useless. You can learn a lot of useful stuff by getting a Ph.D. But it's the knowledge and experience that you gain by going through the process that is potentially valuable (for business endeavors), not the degree itself.]

        Regarding the original poster...the most important component of any startup is not the technology but the business plan. You fail to mention if you've even got a business plan, which tends to suggest you don't. So stop, go back to work, find a business angel or someone who knows how to run a business, and then convince them to give your idea a try.

        • I guess in the context of business it means very little... could get you hired in better positions maybe...

          I forgot the context when I posted. A phd means a lot in reality; one being that the more higher educated people become the less they are interested in money. It also means you know what you're talking about in your field.

          • by Vellmont (569020)


            one being that the more higher educated people become the less they are interested in money.

            Or maybe it means the more interested in money you are, the less likely you are to become highly educated.

            It also means you know what you're talking about in your field.

            Wow, that'd be nice. Anytime we want to know something with certainty all we have to do is just ask a Phd. in that field what the right answer is! I don't doubt there's a correlation between education in a field and knowledge in it. But you have to

        • An old professor of mine used to say that an AA/AS was probably the wisest degree to go for. In his opinion, a BA/BS just meant that you'd learned to jump through hoops, a MA/MS meant that you'd learned to like jumping through hoops and a PhD meant that you got to hold the hoops for other people to jump through.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          [UPDATE: this is not to say that getting a Ph.D. is useless. You can learn a lot of useful stuff by getting a Ph.D. But it's the knowledge and experience that you gain by going through the process that is potentially valuable (for business endeavors), not the degree itself.]

          In the same way that banknotes are worthless, it's the ability to swap them for stuff that's important. -1, blindingly obvious.
    • Funny, the Ph.D.s at my mom's work constantly send her email hoaxes, chain letters, and worms.
    • by CrazyJim1 (809850) *
      Myth #3 is correct. Even if you protect your idea, other people will figure it out anyway. There are only so many good ideas out there. Many ideas I had for multimillion dollar markets became correct and people are making millions of dollars in ideas I came up with. At least I know a high percentage of the ideas I come up with are good.
    • by mikael (484)

      One of our professors said that your company always needed to have six months of development time before releasing the first version of any product, and you should already be designing the next version. By the time any competitor has been able to put together a rival team and made their product, you will already have market share and have the next generation version available as an upgrade.

    • Myth #3: Someone will steal your idea if you don't protect it.

      Is that a myth because no one will steal your idea even if you don't protect it, or is it a myth because people will find a way to steal your idea anyway?

  • SVASE (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Read "The Art of the Start", and look at www.svase.org.

  • One question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:22PM (#29346153)

    How did you manage to invent this if you're not an electrical or RF guy?

    • Trial and error?

    • Re:One question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timmarhy (659436) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:31PM (#29346233)
      i'm guessing he is struggling with the part where he has to actually produce something. comming up with the idea and lodging a patent is the easy part, it's when you try to make your idea work is where all flaws in your idea come out, which is why i believe patents without working or mathamaticly proven prototypes should be rejected.
      • Re:One question (Score:5, Interesting)

        by pipedwho (1174327) on Monday September 07, 2009 @11:00PM (#29346449)

        Mod parent up.

        Our company is a contract electronics design house. We see all sorts of people come to us to implement their patents - most of which are usually about things that they barely understand. In most cases those patents aren't worth the paper that they're printed on.

        It never ceases to amaze me when a client comes through the door with a 'valid' patent that contains a description of something that is standard practice within the industry. Then they get all upset when we show them another product from 10 years earlier that does what their 'invention' does, but better, cheaper and more reliably.

        This is the scariest thing about the kind of software patents that are getting granted these days. The 'novelty' that they contain is hardly novel within the practicing industry. Fair enough that the truly clever inventions are granted, but the vast majority are just not novel, and in many cases are so close to prior art that they should never have been granted. And that's not even going down the 'obviousness' path.

      • Re:One question (Score:5, Informative)

        by djk1024 (1209862) <dennisjkrueger@yahoo.com> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @12:02AM (#29346895)
        I have a proof-of-theory prototype i.e. move the antennas relative to one another and get predictable readings and have already developed the math libraries in support of combining readings into Cartesian coordinates. . This is a far cry from a product however, and a substanstial amount of development needs to take place to make a working product. RF design houses that I've talked with figure about $100K for me to get to a working development kit. I'm aiming for a dev kit that would support about 20 targets and have a form factor in the neightborhood of a cigar box. I would want to price it at less than $1K.
    • Re:One question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by djk1024 (1209862) <dennisjkrueger@yahoo.com> on Monday September 07, 2009 @11:58PM (#29346877)
      I love this question! I'm a big fan of virtual and augmented reality. One day I was noodling around with the concept of virtual gloves, when it struck me that all that was needed for a good representation of hand movement was to track the tip of the fingers and then interpolate the joints. This isn't a wholly new idea, but it got me thinking about how you'd track the tip of the finger. Conventional RF measures like flight time are not really feasible for such a short distance. But it occurred to me that if I had a transmitter on the wrist and a receiver on the finger tip, then after achieving a base phase, I could accurately track movement by movement within the phase of the wave form. And simple interferometry delivers accuracy to almost any level. And all of those conjectures just came out my my thinking about electronics in naive wave forms. I then went to experts in the field that confirmed my speculation. I then did a couple months of due diligence: Was it really a fiable solution, what's the catch. Why hasn't anyone else done this. When I finally satisfied myself that it was viable, unique. I then was able to round up a professional acquaintance who does RF design for a living work me up a simple proof-of-theory prototype. I've then spent the rest of my time doing competitive analysis and refining the patent.
  • Great idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FrankSchwab (675585) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:30PM (#29346221) Journal

    Great idea.

    With RF, you also eliminate issues with hiding the normal lights/reflectors with clothing/costumes, etc. As I understand at the moment, motion capture is done with an actor in a leotard to avoid these problems. With RF, you open up new possibilities of filming a real actor in real costume, and being able to motion detect them in real time. I'm not quite sure what you'd do with it, but that's why I'm an engineer and not a "creative" type.

    Frankly, you need help. You're not going to successfully develop a product from this on your own. Give up on the "lone wolf" approach - you're not gonna make it.

    Find a VC who understands the motion picture industry, and has contacts there. Sell out, keeping whatever percentage you can. Let the VC help you find the managers and developers necessary to take this to the next level - either as a standalone product or a technology for sale.

    Alternatively, take what you have to ILM or Pixar or Disney or whoever. You'll have to find someone who knows someone who knows someone to do this; once again, a VC could help you with that.

    JMHO.

    /frank

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Great idea.

      With RF, you also eliminate issues with hiding the normal lights/reflectors with clothing/costumes, etc. As I understand at the moment, motion capture is done with an actor in a leotard to avoid these problems. With RF, you open up new possibilities of filming a real actor in real costume, and being able to motion detect them in real time.

      Using RF for mo-cap is not a new idea. Generally speaking, previous forms of mocap that used RF (in a variety of ways) has had problems with reliability, working with multiple actors in a volume, interference, and an already very mature toolset for performing optical capture. With optical, trackers are dirt cheap and scaling up to support more actors is mainly a matter of more processing power and sometimes adding more cameras.

      I hope for his sake that his capture system is thoroughly tested in real world

      • Re:Great idea (Score:5, Informative)

        by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:55PM (#29346399)

        Sorry to reply to my own post, but I may have been too quick on the draw to reply. I'm sitting here thinking he wants to take over Hollywood when maybe all he's after is an inexpensive personal one-on-one mocap system that small companies could use to capture one or two people. In that case, he can throw what I said above out the window.

        I apologize for my knee-jerk reaction.

    • I would think that security companies would be more appropriate candidates than Pixar/Disney.

      That point aside, I agree with one of the posts toward the beginning: sell the patent and jump on-board as an employee. Odds are that as head-techie, you've had managerial experience, but it's questionable how much experience you have guiding the sales and marketing folk.

    • by Zordak (123132)

      If you go to ILM or Pixar or Disney, remember that they probably won't sign your NDA. They may have their own NDA that they'll sign, but it won't be very friendly to you. It will quite possibly say, "We have every right to rip off your idea and use it without the smallest compensation unless you actually get a patent on it." This protects them because they may already have a guy in the back room working on the same technology before you ever show up. If your patent doesn't work out, they don't want to d

  • by dixon1e (620788) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:30PM (#29346223)
    Techies starting companies tend to only focus on the technology as a game changer, without capturing the essence of being an entrepreneur. It sounds trite, but you really have to remember all you are trying to do is sell something to someone that really needs it. So have said that: 1) You've got to know who you are selling to and what you are selling 2) There must be an innovation at the core (you seem to have this) 3) You have to be able to mind everything else, which is why you need at least one trusted partner, and no, that doesn't mean a friend or work colleague - often a huge mistake of choices. Read a lot of what Union Square Ventures have to say: http://unionsquareventures.com/ [unionsquareventures.com] Now, with the tiny slice of information you've offered, you may have customers in a wide variety of industries, not just entertainment. What about Health Care? How about Sports (teaching golf swings for example). By working up a sales plan (not a technology plan) several times over (there are many processes for doing this, you'll find out) you will get a much better idea of who will really pay as customers to help fund your venture. Customer money is very good money for a start up.
  • It should be still available. And assuming poster is from the US, plentiful available. If the invention is really innovative, useful and simple, then it sounds like a no-brainer to me to commercialise it. And that's where the VC firms come in play: they have the capital and expertise to build an actual business around your invention. They will also be able to help you with patent applications and the like.

    I wouldn't be too afraid to disclose the idea to them: just don't tell all the details. Just the basic

  • Use your job to fund your private efforts. This is what I do. Now, you've filed your patent but you'll probably wait up to 7 years to see it granted. Several friends of mine have filed over 30 last year. They still work their day jobs. Make sure you are ok and funded to be able to work towards what you want. I don't understand why you quit your job when this was your money source. Everything takes longer and costs more than you plan it will. Plan accordingly and then realize your plan is not enough.

  • Filed way too late. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Solder Fumes (797270) on Monday September 07, 2009 @10:51PM (#29346383)

    You've spent two years on this, and only now getting into the patent? You should be prepared for disappointment. The odds are very high that someone has already patented your exact idea, especially if it's something that you could figure out with no prior RF electronics experience. It's difficult to let go of something that you've put your heart into for so long, but you need to be prepared to do that if you run into problems. Otherwise it could drag you even further down.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by djk1024 (1209862)
      I've just filed my utility patent. As soon as I got the idea, over a year ago, I filed my provisional. I got my stake in the ground some time ago.
  • So, the idea is "simple enough that a sophisticated hobbyist could build one in a couple weekends from plans and standard electronics" and yet you are "not an electrical or RF guy so I can't carry out my own independent development on the electronics".

    This does not jive. If it is quite so simple, being a "software guy" is not much of an impediment. You should be able to learn as much as a "sophisticated hobbyist", in particular in 2 years - that electronics stuff isn't all that hard, in particular at hobby

  • What a douche (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So you've got a "great idea" about how to do this but you're "not an RF guy". $50 says your "great idea" is one of the following:

    • not been tried, because it ignores the fundamental laws of electromagentism (your specs point this way - 1mm resolution typically implies a similar RF wavelength; are you planning to microwave your users?)
    • not been tried, because it requires things that are unrealistic (a totally shielded room, no interference/reflections, etc.)
    • already been tried, and doesn't work
    • already been tried
  • Start learning and planning, even if rough on "the money". Call SCORE from the phone book. They have an inexpensive CD on preparing a business plan. Taylor it to your field.

    Start talking to people. People in tech companies, VCs, management groups, banks, attorneys who handle mergers and aquisitions, professional groups that meet on tech subjects. Find people who are interested, knowledgable and willing to offer advice or a reference to another person or company. A month of serious contacts will turn u

  • Paul Graham (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sukotto (122876) on Monday September 07, 2009 @11:43PM (#29346773)

    If I had something like this, I would call up Paul Graham at Y Combinator [ycombinator.com]... This is the sort of thing he (angel) invests in.

    Disclaimer: I don't have a business relationship with those guys. I just find his articles really insightful and interesting. You might too. Start with this one The 18 mistakes that kill startups [paulgraham.com] ... Being a "Single Founder", like yourself, is his first point.

    Good luck! I hope you find a lot of success in this

  • by 4D6963 (933028)

    Wait a second, are you saying that you quit your day job to work on this for two years, without any plan as to how you're going to make money out of this, and only now that you're out of money you're worrying about this?

    Might be obvious, but all that matters is that you find a new techie job right now. THEN look for someone to buy/pick up what you've done (and good luck with that).

    • by shentino (1139071)

      At least by being unemployed he dodged having his ex-boss claim his invention under the work for hire doctrine.

      I think that was a smart move in the long run.

  • An incubator company is setup to deal with your situation. I am currently working at one. Please contact me and I will put you in contact with the president of our company.

  • Since you are a software engineer, I'm guessing you don't have deep contacts into the movie or games industries, the biggest potential users of this technology. The reason I bring it up is that unless you understand your customer really well, even if your technology is pretty good you will have slim chances of giving your customers a full solution they can use. If you know someone who knows mocap inside and out, and can interest them, then perhaps you can persuade them to be a partner.

    If you're a relative

  • You've 30 years experience, been in several start-ups, and remain clueless about what's next. So you are clearly not the one to drive a new company. Make a "short list" of people you know who were principals of the previous start-ups - people you respect for their business knowledge and accomplishments. Ask them for advice. Do have a working prototype of the invention? Have you done a patent search to see if your invention is novel? If I were you, while I was doing this, I would get a day job, unrelated
  • ...so you can't do your own RF development work...

    So how do you know this even works? And you have already filed for a patent. No wonder you use to work for Microsoft.... you are really going about this arse about face!

    Understand the market (who will buy it, what are you competing with, how much money will it save them, what are the laws)

    Make it.

    Make it testable.

    Make it work.

    Make it manufacturable.

    Take out unit cost.

    Start producing it....

    Start marketing it, and if you have time patent it.
  • You shouldn't have quit your job over a "sure thing" until it was actually sure and knew how you'd go about this.
  • Out of left field (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Ancients (626689) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @01:31AM (#29347411) Homepage
    I gave up on reading all the comments. A lot of cynics, and a lot of people knocking the guy. Yet it is people like this who have historically driven so much innovation. So he's focused on product, and not on all the structure around it, which may or may not be his downfall. Is this such a bad thing? It is not a product driven by marketing, but by engineering, and these types of product are becoming harder and harder to come by. To the AC who said "You are at the blunt end of failure and you want help from slashdot." - having a functioning example is far from the blunt end, which is populated by those who can't quite make their products work. Sure, the guy has limited business nous, but at least he knows enough to know he needs help to go further. If one was to take the majority of comments here on slashdot seriously, almost everyone has startling intellect and experience in all fields pertaining to the world.
  • You need partner (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcrbids (148650) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @01:33AM (#29347423) Journal

    This is late in the thread, this post will probably not be modded up. I hope you read it nonetheless.

    You need PARTNERS! There are four planks to a well-run business, and they are: 1) Technical, 2) Operations/support, 3) Legal, 4) Finance.

    You need to 1) Produce the product, 2) Support the product and the staff who do 3) CYA, 4) Count the money made.

    It really is as simple as that. Since you provide #1, you either need to provide 2, 3, and 4 yourself, or find others who can provide them. I was in a position like you some 8 years ago. I had some interesting technology for application development that I thought was useful. I tried to go it alone for a year or two, and had only limited success.

    But then I took a community business training class called "V3", run through my local college, that taught me the basics of running a startup business. They actually had a worksheet that you could use to evaluate the likelihood of success of your business. It was hard to swallow to realize that my odds of success were somewhere around 8%.

    So I realized that I needed partners. And partners I found. Good partners, that, between the 4 partners, actually covered all four bases very nicely. And it's been a very well balanced company - not a single down quarter in 6+ years, and 40% to 70% annual growth.

    We chose to grow organically rather than go the sudden rush/VC route, and we've done well with it.

    Find partners who are decent, who you can trust, who are motivated and professional. If you do, you'll never regret it.

    I wish you the best of luck.

  • "Bunny" Huang (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rrwood (27261) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @10:05AM (#29350681) Homepage

    Talk to Bunny:

    http://www.bunniestudios.com/

    Bunny is the guy who did the incredible XBox reverse engineering way back when. Since then, he's gone on to work for the Chumby guys. He loves open source, is brilliant, has huge experience getting hardware built, and is a pretty cool guy.

    Take a look at his blog and read about his experience in China, lining up manufacturers for the Chumby. Also, his discussion of the Shenzhen hardware/software wizards is mind-bending....

  • by chord.wav (599850) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @10:11AM (#29350761) Journal
    You people should encourage entrepreneurship. Not only he had a great idea, he has actually made it real and had the balls to quit his job in pursue of his dream. Way much more that many of the rest here has ever done with their lives.

    You have to relax and take a step back. Get yourself out of the day-to-day in order to reevaluate your position.
    I would recommend you this book:

    Little Black Book of Entrepreneurship [amazon.com]

    BTW I'm not affiliated or anything. It's just is the best book about the matter I've ever read.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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