Invention trends are constantly changing, and the smart inventors frequently research where the opportunities and needs are.
Products associated with smartphone apps and eco-friendly goods are especially in demand. Many invention services companies advertise the types of product inventions they see as having great possibilities.
Lambert & Lambert (lambertinvent.com/inventions), a Minneapolis-based company, is looking for inventions in categories that include: ATV, motorcycle and power sports; automotive accessories, aftermarket and motor equipment; consumer electronics; hardware and tools; household goods and housewares; juvenile and baby products; lawn and garden products; medical and dental products; pet products; plumbing and HVAC products; safety products; sports, golf, recreation, camping, and fishing and hunting products. Edison Nation (edisonnation.com) is looking for kitchen gadgets, products for infants, fitness products and As Seen On TV products. Clearly, the invention opportunities are there.
So, who’s going to invent all of this stuff?
The process of inventing and launching products has changed due to the increased innovation associated with digital technologies, along with the fact that demographic characteristics of the inventor community are changing. For example, as a time reference point, in 2006 Tamara Monosoff wrote an Entrepreneur magazine piece that discussed evolving trends involving inventors. Her conclusions:
- Inventors are becoming more diverse, including more kids, moms and seniors.
- Inventors are becoming more visible, as evidenced by the many TV shows and other forms of media dealing with the subject of inventing.
- Inventors’ mind-sets are changing in terms of pursuing more aggressively the commercialization of their invention.
- Companies are realizing the possibilities of working with inventors.
So are these observations from 12 years ago still valid, or have they changed?
Let’s start by looking at the demographics of population trends. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and other projections, the Millennial Generation, referred to as the “Millennials” or Generation Y (born in the 1980s to mid-1990s), will soon be the largest living adult generation in the U.S., surpassing baby boomers (1946-64). Of the four generations in the workforce today, they are the largest: about 40 million people employed.
According to Time magazine, by 2025, 3 of 4 workers globally will be millennials. They most likely represent the “face” of a significant population of current inventors and will be the dominant source of inventors for many years.
Given these evolving demographics, who among these people are potential inventors?
Much has been written about the characteristics and demographics of this group. Their views and general approach to life are radically different from that of previous generations. From an inventor’s perspective, their numerous attributes:
- They are optimistic.
- They are notorious for multi-tasking.
- They understand the digital communications world, having been brought up in it.
- They are the most inclusive generation, preferring to work in a diverse group with different opinions.
- They are action oriented.
- They are a natural at networking and figuring out ways they can make a difference.
- They have a strong desire for achievement and promotion.
- They are entrepreneurial. According to the Kauffman Foundation, 54 percent either want to start a business or have started one.
- They are the most educated generation in American history; more than 63 percent have a Bachelor’s degree, according to Yahoo! Small Business.
The typical consumer benefits from one or more of the digital communities that have been created by Millennials. These include the social networking service Facebook; Instagram, the photo and video-sharing social networking service; and Tumblr, a microblogging and social networking website that allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog.
What’s next is coming fast
In her 2016 article “Millennial Inventions: What Will They Think of Next?” (sheboom.com), Bridget Brindley cites other invention areas in which Millennials have been involved: wearable devices to reduce the risk and improve safety of workers; a power-generating shoe insole for charging portable electronics such as cell phones, music players or GPS devices; an anti-cavity gum that can be used in austere environments to reduce plaque and tooth decay; a cellular relay station for use in rural areas to set up a local communications network system.
These developments all coincide with Tamara Monosoff’s observations 12 years ago relative to trends involving inventors. We are seeing a “new breed of cat” in the inventor world—the Millennials. They should heed the sage advice of Abraham Lincoln: “Whatever you are, be a good one.”