Inspirational Darrell Mann
Genady L. Filkovsky,
Nomura Securities International Inc.,
New York, USA

I've read and re-read D. Mann's article "IDEALITY AND 'SELF-X' - Part 2: Meals, Wheels, and Carpet Slippers - Technical Case Studies" in the last TRIZ journal issue, trying to find a logical thread in this mess of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions... There is none. It starts with the first sentence, "discussing the importance of systems that incorporate solutions incorporating the word 'self' - ... - in the context of their relationship - in the true TRIZ sense - ..." . Take me out!

But, I got the point. The point is that using the word 'self' can help one to get a patent. To demonstrate this point, Mann brings seven quite bad ideas, which "whether or not we like their specific details" , have been patented or published, probably thanks to using the word 'self'. So, I decided to make a research and went to the US patent database (patents after 1976). Here are the results.

There are 326015 patents using word 'self' somewhere; out of them:
- 19059 use it in title,
- 41303 use it in abstract,
- 54114 use it in claims, and
- 309050 use it in description/specification.

I'm sure there are some good ideas among this amount. Probably, Mann has chosen the bad case studies on purpose, to demonstrate that even the bad solutions benefit from using the word 'self'.

The results above show that any time Mann runs out of subject, he could return to this one: even if he restricts himself to the titles, he has a material for about 2722 articles (19059 / 7). Here is the beginning of the list: self-testing, self-healing, self-supporting, self-sustaining, self-diagnostic, self-calibration, self-scrub, self-aligning, self-lubricating, self-locking, self-crimping, self-sorting, self-washing,...

If Mann were creative, he could use synonyms. The obvious one is, 'auto'. There are 1744 patents with the word 'auto' in the title: auto-correlation, auto-return, auto-focus, auto-correcting, auto-ignition, auto-precharge...

Wait a second! How about the 'pre-'? Bingo! 3442: pre-processing, pre-heating, pre-combustion, pre-paying, pre-perforating,...

Does this tell us something? Why can't we just use the inventive words like 'self', 'auto' and 'pre', for inventive problem solving and technical evolution forecasting? Plus, we immediately have a sound foundation: in the best tradition of bombastic TRIZ claims, we just analyzed more than 300000 patents and discovered that inventive solutions are based on a few fundamental words... ... ...