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Website Pitches Scientific Solutions In Search of Problems 39

ananyo writes "In this age of social media, innovators eager to develop high-tech products are tapping into the wisdom of crowds to solve problems, with crowdsourcing sites such as Innocentive and Kaggle offering cash prizes for answers to science or data questions. The launch this week of a site called Marblar is turning this model on its head. Marblar gives scientists a space to tout solutions that have yet to find their problem (it's not in beta, despite the redirect). Members, who can come from any background, are invited to publicly discuss potential uses for patented discoveries made in research laboratories that as yet may not have led to real-world applications. Every suggestion at Marblar is posted on a public forum alongside video interviews with the scientists and explanations of their work. Website visitors suggest applications and vote them up and down, and the scientists behind the discovery are encouraged to take part in the discussion. Popular suggestions are recognized with a points system (denoted by marbles — hence the name) and, in some cases, small cash prizes. A trial run seems to have been pretty successful."
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Website Pitches Scientific Solutions In Search of Problems

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  • Is this just a giveaway to the patent owners?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Which would you rather see: patents being licensed to the benefit of the licensor and licensee, or unlicensed patents falling into the hands of patent trolls to be used for litigation at a later date?

      The former is probably more viable to the economy, even if the patents are flimsy, because it offers greater predictability. It may also serve to drive royalties down since alternative solutions to problems will gain better recognition. There is also a potential to expose patents based upon trivial ideas or p

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The problem with that is that every one becomes a patent troll when buisness is bad.

      • Which would you rather see: patents being licensed to the benefit of the licensor and licensee, or unlicensed patents falling into the hands of patent trolls to be used for litigation at a later date?

        What makes you think that the patents in question won't fall into the hands of patent trolls at a later date?

        Take this scenario for example -

        I have 3 patents under my name, and I am earning some royalties out of the patents that I owned.

        I feel that my patents can do more but unfortunately I can't think of anything else right now.

        So ... I tout my patents on Marblar and I, the patent holders, got free suggestions from visitors to the site.

        I shift through all those suggestions and found some gems. I immediatel

  • Somebody may finally find a use for my peanut-butter-powered horse launcher!

  • Wisdom is the last thing I think of when I think of crowds.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by nnnnnnn ( 1611817 )

      Right, because 1 person is better than a 1000 at problem solving and arriving at the correct solution. Are you that 1 person by any chance?

      ----At a 1906 country fair in Plymouth, eight hundred people participated in a contest to estimate the weight of a slaughtered and dressed ox. Statistician Francis Galton observed that the mean of all eight hundred guesses, at 1197 pounds, was closer than any of the individual guesses to the true weight of 1198 pounds.[4] This has contributed to the insight in cognitive

  • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @09:11PM (#41747141)
    How did they file a patent for an invention if they don't know what they're inventing?
    • Re:wait... what? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nnnnnnn ( 1611817 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @09:40PM (#41747369)

      See Gorilla Glass

      ----Corning experimented with chemically strengthened glass in 1960, as part of an initiative called "Project Muscle". Within a few years it had developed what it named "Chemcor" glass. Corning could find no practical use for the glass at the time and the predecessor of "Gorilla Glass" was never put into mass production, excepting its use in approximately one hundred 1968 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda race cars, where the reduced weight was key.[5]

      In 2006, while developing the first iPhone, Apple discovered that keys placed in a pocket with the prototype could scratch its hard plastic surface – and resolved to find a glass sufficiently scratch-resistant to eliminate the problem.[6][7] When Steve Jobs subsequently contacted Wendell Weeks, the CEO of Corning told him of the material the company had developed in the 1960s and subsequently mothballed. Despite the CEO's initial concern over whether the company could manufacture sufficient quantities for the product debut, Jobs convinced Weeks to produce the glass, and Corning's factory in Harrodsburg, Kentucky supplied the screens for the product's release in June 2007.[5] Corning further developed the material for a variety of smartphones and other consumer electronics devices for a range of companies.[8][3][9]

      • Mod parent up!
      • I find it hard to believe that highly scratch-resistant glass didn't find any other uses between 1960 and 2006. Presumably it was very expensive or something?
        • Chicken before the egg, as with many things. It is expensive to produce because not much is made, there is low demand because it is expensive to produce. The CEO seemed to lack vision, and never made the leap to find uses for it and reduce cost.
    • by relikx ( 1266746 )
      They specifically point out patents made in research labs so I'm hoping these are cases in materials sciences, biochemistry, etc.

      Since we're talking about the internet here, I'm reminded of an article where the physics of how a cat licks water when observed in ultra slow-motion cameras. Although I have fears of patent trolls muddying this website, hopefully it can work effectively.
    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      Easy, you just be as broad as possible and hope that some day you can apply it to some infringement claim by making up a load of nonsense as to why it's the same.

      This is why I'm going to patent "A thing to do stuff" and win the patent wars.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What problems does it solve? Anything? (sound of crickets).

    • by Richy_T ( 111409 )

      csv for starters.

    • Having recently worked on a project where I had to produce fixed-length fields in ascii files, XML doesn't sound so bad any more.
      • Having worked on a project done in XML (XML-in-SOAP actually, for double the XML, without specifying where and how to switch to quoted-xml-in-xml input), sort-of, by people who obviously had no fscking clue about specifying anything, much less interop standards, I'm pretty sure that fixed-field ascii would've been a massive improvement over that steaming pile of crap.

        There are very definite requirements to specifying interop formats, and the things XML imposes are almost completely orthogonal, making it not

  • ... are there any protections for the "crowd" in case one of the scientists loses their marbles?

    • Ugh. You know that trope where someone is taking a drink when they hear something funny and shoot said beverage out of their nose? I have a cold.
  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @04:34AM (#41749593) Homepage
    Marblar sounds like a great marblar. I was just talking to Marblar the other marblar, who has always wanted a marblar for his marblar.
    • “Marblar, these marblars want to change your marblar. They don't want Marblar or any of these marblars to live here because it's bad for their marblar. They use Marblar to try and force marblars to believe they're marblar. If you let them stay here, they will build marblars and marblars. They will take all your marblars and replace them with Marblar. These marblar have no good marblar to live on Marblar, so they must come here to Marblar. Please, let these marblars stay where they can grow and prosper
    • "Marblar sounds like a great marblar."

      It's a dumb name. Sure, "" was already taken. But they could have come up with something better than just a bad mis-spelling.

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