American Inventor...British Style!

We have the British to thank for exporting some of our favorite shows of the last five years...Trading Spaces, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, and even American Idol started out as UK TV fare. Looks like we've returned the favor, as Sky (a British broadcasting network) is doing a version of American Inventor entitled "The Big Idea".

Basic premise is this: Three judges each choose 12 contestants from all of the entrants using criteria like market viability and the sheer determination of the inventor. Each week, each judge gets to pick two of their contestants to go head-to-head in presenting their product to the studio audience, who votes a winner from the six. This happens for six weeks, after which the six winners, plus one wild card, then compete in a live show this Saturday, November 25, to see who gets to walk home with 100,000 GBP to fund their invention.

Without further are your finalists:


Big Idea #1: The Bandi
(electrical plug removal assistance)

Frustrated by weakness in his own hands after a long-term illness, inventor Ian Davies developed these very simple plastic loops that fit around electrical plugs and give the elderly or those with arthritis something to grab and pull. They're even color-coded and can be written on, so you know which plug goes with what. Of course, you have to remember that plugs in the UK are about 4 times as big as ours in the US and are generally made with smooth sides...not like ours that have the grip built in.



Big Idea #2: The Katnapper
(get your cat into the carrying case)

Ever tried to get your cat into a travel basket to take to the vet or on a trip? Still have the scars to prove it? Inventor John Watling came up with a remarkably simple solution with the Katnapper. Think of it like catching a put the bowl over the spider and slide a piece of paper under...the Katnapper works the same way. Put the cage over kitty, and slide the tray under. The description says it has a way to prevent the tail from getting caught, but I'd like to see that in action.



Big Idea #3: The Skirider
(combo ski/scooter for people with joint problems)

Only in Britain will a product description include the phrase "it's a doddle to use" (I'm assuming that's good!). The Skirider was designed by inventor Andrew Hubert von Staufer (who also wins the award for best inventor's name) as a skiing option for people with joint pain. It's a scooter that skis, and unlike traditional ski gear, it doesn't restrain your feet.



Big Idea #4: The Cyclaire
(pull-cord pump system for bike tires, inflatables, etc.)

Inventor Julian Peck has come up with an alternative inflation technology, using a pull-cord system vs the traditional piston pump (or the good old-fashioned mouth). The pull-cord gives you a stroke length as long as you can pull the cord, vs the 12-15 inches of traditional pumps, so it fills whatever you're filling a lot faster, and with a lot less effort.









Big Idea #5: The Flexi Rest
(flexible cue mount for pool)

Talk about a targeted market. Did you know that there are 4 million snooker players in the UK...really?...snooker? I suppose they say the same thing about Cornhole. Anywho...Des Morley developed the Flexi Rest as a flexible support for your pool cue that lets you get out of all sorts of tricky situations on the green felt. His inspiration? A flexible IKEA lamp.



Big Idea #6: The Plaster Socket Template
(marker for drywall cutting)

Despite being the clear loser in the clever name department, the Plaster Socket Template, designed by Phil Green, seems to be the most universally useful of the bunch. The tool mounts to an electrical socket or switch and makes indents in the drywall so you know exactly where to cut the drywall to mount the socket. If you've ever tried to do this yourself, you know what a hassle it can be with a tape measure.


The videos of the inventors are definitely worth watching, because they're just average people who saw a need and went for it.

What's the next Big Idea? What other finalist makes the final show as the wild card? Who takes home the 100,000 GBP prize? We'll tell you next week. It will be a doddle, no doubt!

Tim Whitney
Featured Blogger

Nov 22, 2006
by Craig Cockburn (not verified)

The Big Idea

That's funny. Earlier this year, I had a programme proposal for a programme called The Big Idea which had regional awards and a national TV competition and which went to a few TV companies and I even posted details about it on my blog. You would have thought they could have thought up a different name.

Nov 28, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

American inventor also had

American inventor also had few real choices. Maybe A.I., being latter (maybe not until 2007) they won't get the leftovers from the other contests in 2006.

Nov 30, 2006
by Chris Brindle

Cyclaire and Sea Hammock Come To Las Vegas


I'm at the Pool & Spa Expo in Las Vegas Nov 28 to Dec 1
I'm here to promote my own British award winning product, the Sea Hammock. It won its prize for Best New Product at the massive European swimming pool show Piscine 2006, just 2 weeks ago. Sea Hammock is a portable lounger you can use in your swimming pool or take to the sea. You can lie out front or back or sit up and read a book. It works completely differently to the floating swimming pool chairs on the market, and is entered in the New Product competition. It's been filmed at the show and will be on HGTV shortly.

Anyway I met Julian at The Big Idea in London and he's given me a box of his inflators and cycle pumps to show off here in Vegas on Stand 4114.

My other innovations are the continuously extruded polyurethane tubes developed for me by BASF in the UK and Germany that make possible Pleasure-Dome, a simple pack-away enclosure for small pools and Spas. Also the Clip-It-On insulation clips that allow you to insulate your above ground pool. With a bit of help from a heater and a Pleasure Dome swim in it all year round (even in England).

I intend taking out US Patents based on my 4 GB Patents, and I'm looking for Manufacturers and Distributors worldwide.

Chris Brindle

Dec 7, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

WOW- Another intertube!

What's different (inflatable pool chair) than the one seen in the Aflack Commercial? Now a Britain person is seeking to market a hand pump also in the U.S.A.? Why not an automatic pump (Battery)? Oh, it already exists! Why don't we go back to hand cranking machines instead of electric powered ones in manufacturing, and patent them again? Inventions are suppose to "improve" on the existing ones, not just be different and do the same "old" thing!