American Inventor

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on March 17, 2006

So I watched American Inventor last night and the beginning was so bad I actually switched over to the awful movie Gigli with Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck. The first inventor up had a long rubber coat into which you can relieve yourself without anyone seeing it—just in case you get caught out in public. Of course, you have to carry this long rubber coat with you all the time. And the Space Beetles concept, whatever it was, was nutty. So was the car “suit” that you changed depending on destination (beach, work, party).

But I returned, gave American Inventor another chance, and got caught up in it. True, the four judges never reveal their criteria for successful innovation and they don’t wait to compare one invention with another to determine their choices and this is not good.

The naked exploitation of emotion on the show is not good either. One of the judges’criteria for giving a thumbs-up to an invention was the emotion of the inventor. Whoever had a great story appeared to have better chance of getting the “yeses.” And the judges were often obnoxious in an attempt to generate false conflict and emotion.

And yet, by the end of the program, I was agreeing with most of the choices of the judges. And there were a number of serious inventions that were really good. That big shovel that put sand directly into sandbags was cool. The bike with separate handle bars for kids riding on the handle bars was cool.

In the end, the emotion was good too. The inventors, winners and losers all, were passionate about their inventions. And I liked that.

I think American Inventor is a first step toward public open-source innovation, however icky it may be. I’d like to see all the losers and winners up online as well to make up my own mind.

So despite my misgivings, I give American Inventor a “yes” and hope the judges learn to act as a team instead of a bunch of elbows-out Fox TV show screamers.

Reader Comments

Yawners

March 18, 2006 1:25 AM

"American Inventor" was another example of the nice, long, lubed-up, patriotic hand job that TV execs seem to love giving the American public these days: The family edition of Amazing Race (which ruined the show for me), Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and to a lesser extent, Dancing with the Stars, etc. That red-headed female judge based almost every decision on how teary her eyes got. "You've got such an American spirit and that's what this is all about. Yes!" No, it's not about that at all. Do you have a good product? Great, you're on. No? Thank you, but keep trying. Such a joke. I saw this as a last gasp for a country who's economy is heading in a downward spiral and will be eaten alive by Asia in the innovative/creative industries.

RitaSue Siegel

March 20, 2006 2:42 AM

Am I the only person getting nervous about using the words innovation, invention, design, and creativity as if they are interchangable? They are not.

Jack Yan

March 21, 2006 9:42 AM

It’s a shame that invention now has to be trivialized but on the other hand, I believe shows like this could inspire younger viewers to dig into their imaginations and come up with something neat. What is disturbing here is not so much the judging, but that two countries had Gigli on television around the same time. Yes, we were laboured with it, too. You would think one nation at a time was enough.

anne olson

May 12, 2006 12:22 PM

who won last nite?

janice loughry

May 12, 2006 2:25 PM

can anyone email me and tell me who won on the american inventor last night i think that guy who invented the baby seat was amazing

Laura

May 19, 2006 5:19 PM

The American Inventor Winner
Congratulations to Janusz Liberkowski, inventor of the Spherical Safety Seat! per abc.com

Ann Thurston

May 19, 2006 7:02 PM

The geeza with the baby seat!

This makes me very happy...

ed mckain

May 23, 2006 8:29 PM

keep the invention comeing i tape all the shows i would like to be 0n your next show could you let me know if you will have a show with in 300 miles of cincinnat ohio i thank you much ed mckain i would like to hear from you thanks

Nick Gustavsson

May 26, 2006 8:51 AM

I would agree that there are many "would be" inventors who would benefit from an open source like environment, but how can then protect their ideas?

shawn myers

June 2, 2006 5:26 AM

Awesome show! My kids and I watched it religiously and were brought to tears several times. My 7 year old is trying to come up with ideas for the next show, I wish they had more shows that inspired like this. I loved the shovel, but not the attitude. We all wanted the bike guy to win because he was so gracious for the opportunity he had been given. I personally think the word ace guy had to many forced emotions, with an ungrateful attitude toward the toy company opportunity he was handed. The football guy was awesome. In the end, the car seat was a great choice. Ok, I really loved the bathroom stall idea, imagine it in walmart!

Manufacturing China

June 4, 2006 9:00 PM

If you need your invention made in China. http://www.manufacturingchina.com
We can help!!!!

Deb

July 1, 2006 2:14 AM

I need to talk to the guy that invited the car seat or a car seat maker. Please Please Please Thank You Debbie

JOSHUA E.

August 22, 2006 5:41 AM

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR PEOPLE WITH INVENTIONS ? IF SO REPLY SO I CAN SEND YOU INFO ON ATOOL I INVENTED ,PRETTY INNOVATIVE SAVES TIME MONEY AND SALES ARE STARTING TO TAKE OFF IT'S BEEN ALONG ROAD .AISO I HAVE ABOUT 10 MORE IDEAS ON THE DRAWLING BOARD,SOME READY FOR PROTYPE.I HAVE A GREAT MACHINE SHOP THEY ARE GOOD THIS WOULD PROBABLY MAKE A GOOD STORY AND AN INTERESTING SEGMENT IN YOUR PROGRAM THANKS SIGN JOSHUA EVANS JETOOLSDIRECT.COM

Daniel Eriksson

September 17, 2010 10:05 AM

for any sourcing needs in china. Contact chinese factory sourcing. Manufacture in China

CarolineDominguez28

November 5, 2010 8:57 PM

I would like to propose not to wait until you get enough amount of cash to buy different goods! You should take the home loans or just college loan and feel comfortable

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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