American Inventor – A Poor Showing

Update: The winner has been anounced. Click here to find out who won!

As I sit here watching the debut of ABCs American Inventor I am completely underwhelmed. The best of these showings are a weak mashup of existing products. E.g. the solar powered cooler. Whoopee. Other inventions do have a limited market, but I see very little here which will change how people live.

The highlight of the program is the fashions of Doug Hall, the only actual inventor on the judge’s panel. He also seems like the only one with any interest in the actual inventions. While the other judges are investors and executives, Doug is the complete package. He has made a career out of inventing not in a limited market space, but working with corporations to advance their innovation. He is an active lecturer and a published author.

Most inspiring is a 14 year old boy who has come up with an air-conditioner for the car window so you can leave your dog in the car on a hot day. He didn’t make it, but his resolution to work harder and come back with more means to me we will hear more from him in the future. He is the American Inventor. Despite rejection he received some great advice from Doug. I failed to catch his name but I do hope he continues on.

From what I’ve gathered about the show, twelve inventors will be given $50,000 each to advance their invention. America will choose a winner (although I’m not exactly sure how, probably phone voting) and that winner will receive one million dollars. A heafty sum, but why should a single invention be the measure of the next great American inventor? The show is “American Inventor”, not “American Invention”. A great inventor should be able to broaden their scope to address new challenges, new needs, and new market spaces.

What if these inventors were forced to compete in different areas? Household items, transportation, electronics, office technology, entertainment, the list could go on. At this point I’m truly afraid that the nut bowl with hidden shell discard and the branch cutter (which seems to be just a branch cutter, yes, both of these moved on to round 2) may just win this competition. I hate to say it but the edible snow globe was the most innovative invention I saw tonight. Hell, it’s better than those stupid chocolate fountains that doned the shelves of every retailer this past holiday season.

So I’ll tune in to American Inventor again, but I’m really hoping for more. In the meantime I’ll stick to Make Magazine and the Makezine Blog for my invention fix.

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12 thoughts on “American Inventor – A Poor Showing”

  1. I too watched this show. However, I cannot believe that you actually expected this show to produce valid and real inventions. Do you honestly think that a real inventor with a good product is going to go on this show? It’s like American Idol – no real talent there either.

    Regarding the kid who made a small window fan for the hot car scenario, I have to agree with 3/4 of the judges that this is a horrible idea. You just know people will leave their babies in the car with one of these devices, and roast them and the dog. There is no way this device could safely cool down the interior of a car on a day that is 80 degrees outside – it’s just a fan!

    If you want real inventiveness, stick with Make Magazine – definitely the crown jewel of American inventors there.

  2. Well, I guess the main thing I expected was a freak show. In that respect I wasn’t disappointed.

    I guess the difference between American Idol and American Inventor is that American Idol is an accurate portrayal of the popular music industry. It’s not about talent; it’s about appealing to the least common denominator.

    American Inventor had the potential to show what it means to be an idea person, working within the constraints of production budgets and schedules.

    The most unfortunate part of American Inventor, and the reason I will not watch more than the auditions, is that we will not see any more inventions from these folks. It looks like the rest of the season will be refinements on their current inventions, many of which are fully prototyped.

    You’re right. I’ll stick with Make. Don’t know how I lived without it.

  3. I enjoyed it although it was a bit redundant at times. I really wasn’t interested in seeing the judges meet their families

  4. Well I agree with most of the things that you have said. And I do agree about the $50,000 thing. But I dont agree with the whole judge thing. True that he was the only inventor but the other judges had more to say and he did poor judging on some of them. Also the kid was a good idea to make him go home but I agree with the advice thing. Also I think they named it American Inventor because that sounds better then American Invention. Plus it wouldent be an invention without the inventor so you have to give them props for that.


  6. I am a 56 year old grandmother who has been babysitting my 4yr. old grandson since he was 4 months old. I am very active with play group and day school and can tell you without a doubt you missed the boat when you turned away the young inventor who came up with the idea of putting wipes on the outside of disposable diapers. Your judges are not in tune with young moms and grandmothers who take care of children. I cannot tell you how many times I could of used that wipe when changing my grandson. I asked the moms in our play group what they thought of that idea and they all agreed it is a great idea and wished they had thought of it. You really need to reconsider this young mans idea, better yet ask some young mothers what they think of that idea you just might be surprised!!

  7. Well, last night I saw the lady with the “pillow” for “the girls”… a place to rest her augmented breasts while sleeping… only to be shut out. Okay, I admit it could have been better.. the holes could have been round instead of square ( are implants square? I’m not sure haha) Another way she could have been guaranteed 3 votes was to have a smaller version for “the boys”… none of those three male judges would have wanted to admit on national television that they didn’t need one! HAHAHA

  8. I watched the show last night Wed. July 25th 2007. One of the inventions that was let go was called the claw. It was my favorite. I would have bought one or more if they put it on the market. The judges couldn’t see past the idea of it being only for holding a bike(which is brilliant in itself), but I imagined many uses for it just while watching them demonstrate it and thought it was very marketable. They felt there were not enough people who rode a bike and would use it. I would have possibly used it for a porch swing, step ladder, my kids sleds, hose, clothes drying rack(to hang it out of the way), folding chairs/lawn chair/beach chairs, and of course all four of our bikes. I liked the easyness of being able to get the items down and how a child can use it too. Well I guess we’ll never know now. It is too bad the show doesn’t have an email or comment line. Thanks!

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