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Audience gifted, dowsed, delighted by Inventables

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  • Audience gifted, dowsed, delighted by Inventables

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    Audience gifted, dowsed, delighted by Inventables
    Company finds offbeat inventions and puts them to use
    Thursday, July 28, 2005

    By Janis Mara
    Inman News
    Keith Schacht, Inventables
    SAN FRANCISCO – Sand that can't get wet, intelligent rope and ink with a sense of smell were a few of the innovative products at a hands-on demonstration of new inventions at Real Estate Connect 2005 on Wednesday.
    Keith Schacht, CEO of Inventables, and his partner Zach Kaplan, the company's president, used video, slides and hands-on demonstrations – plus some performance art with an audience member – in their "Innovation in Action" session at the conference.
    The presentation was designed to help audience members think outside the box, Schacht said. The Connect convention focuses on innovation, as well as trends in the real estate industry.
    Inventables publishes DesignAid, a one-of-a-kind magazine that contains samples of 20 new materials and technologies. The magazine is shipped to subscribers every three months. The idea is to exhibit new materials and technologies to companies that might have a way to use them.
    A volunteer from the audience took a few blasts from an industrial-strength squirt gun to help demonstrate the properties of a liquid developed by technology company 3M that evaporates 25 times faster than water.
    "This is a dry liquid developed by 3M," said Schacht. "It has been used to cool computers that ran hot by submerging them in the liquid. Now, its most common use is fire sprinklers in an office." The liquid is also tasteless, colorless and odorless.
    The Inventables came up with a new proposed use for the liquid: to spray basketball players on the court and cool them off. "Since it dries so quickly, it wouldn't leave puddles or create other problems," Kaplan said.
    Instructed to reach under their chairs, audience members found another unexpected product – soft magnets. Resembling small, round conventional magnets, the freebies are "gel magnets from GelTek," explained Kaplan. "It's a jelly with magnetic material infused into it."
    The pair has several proposed uses for the magnets, including keeping cabinet doors closed, holding shoes together and in a proposed waterslide.
    The two showed a fast-moving concept film for the "Aqua Rocket," the pair's name for their proposed waterslide, made with Roman Coppola.
    Another new product, intelligent rope, has connective strands that sense when the rope is being pulled. "One use for this would be to tie cargo down on a semi. The rope would sense if cargo was breaking loose," and programming could be added to notify the driver, Schacht said.
    Other products include sand that doesn't get wet even when dropped into water, thanks to protective coating, and sensing ink that can discern odors.
    "We call this the 'paper nose,'" Schacht said. "Isn't it strange to think that a piece of paper can smell better than a human nose?" The comment drew good-natured laughter from the audience.
    "We asked the fire department how they check the quality of the air when they arrive at a fire. They told us, 'We rush to the scene and check for dead policemen,'" deadpanned Kaplan, sparking more laughter. "This product could give them a better way to check air quality." Other proposed uses include food packaging that would change color when the contents went bad.
    Bidding the group goodbye, the duo had one last suggestion. "Don't put the gel magnets in your pocket with your room key. The last time we handed them out at a convention, they demagnetized everyone's keys," Schacht said.
    "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx