Kai Staats - collaborative design with Tom Rockwell: interactive water exhibit, Ithaca Science Center Kai Staats - SketchBox: hybrid tablet-clamshell personal computer GP Sketches by Kai Staats

Inventing is bringing life to an idea, taking the amorphous, nebulous stuff of our gray matter and giving it three dimensional form. To invent is to excite the power of a creator in each of us. To experience that moment of Ah-hah! is to hold lightning in one hand and a ball of clay in the other. I have had the fortune of innumerable moments such as this, some of which come to fruition in the form of a drawing, wood, metal, plastic, or computer software.

I present here a snapshot of my inventions and innovations. Most were simple, fun ideas not worthy of mass production, or my attempt to bring them to market was ill timed, underfunded, or both. I look back and see clearly that my highest creative output was during my years at Arizona State University, College of Architecture & Environmental Design where I completed my five year degree in Industrial Design. That was an incredible time for me, every day spent thinking in three dimensions, sketching, and building prototypes. Over the weekends I lived in my parents’ garage, little thought given to the heat of the Phoenix days or chill of the desert nights, for I was designing, building, and tinkering.

From 1999 through 2008 my every waking moment was given to the challenge of running a software development company. I didn’t realize until after I sold Terra Soft how much I had lost my free-flowing creativity. Innovation took a new form, my creativity leveraged to survive, sometimes thrive under the burden of sales, management, and competition in ever shifting markets. Once free, I vowed to regain what once came so naturally to me–creativity expressed in physical form.

In early December of 2008 I loaded a file cabinet drawer and large cardboard box into my car, my life of invention sketches, drawings, and prototypes in transport. An hour later I arrived at my patent attorney’s office in Denver. To Rick’s surprise, I covered the entire conference table with a scattering of ideas. Laughing, he crossed his arms over his chest and said, “Well, I’ve never had a client bring an entire file drawer of inventions to me. Sit down! You want a beer?”

Kai Staats - Split, Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse Kai Staats - RB5X, Jr. for General Robotics Corporation, Golden, Colorado Kai Staats - Powered Parachute for Peggy Thomas Kai Staats - MIDI keyboard played by Deep Creek, Telluride, Colorado Kai Staats - biofeedback in virtual reality Kai Staats - outdoor musical instruments for children's playground, Ithaca Science Center

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