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I’ve wondered why, with our HCEI goal to convert from 90% foreign oil dependency to 70% renewable energy use by 2030, there have not been more Hawaii companies working on innovations in renewable energy. As my own innovation stimulus, I am offering this INVENTION CONTEST for anyone to come up with new, useful and nonobvious solutions to the following 3 invention starter ideas. The winner in each category will be announced on my blog site and receive my coveted “GOLDEN BAGEL AWARD” for best Hawaii intellectual property achievement of the year. The award is well-recognized by those in the intellectual property field in Hawaii and will serve as a credential that can attract funding from investors and support from business and professional service providers in Hawaii. As an added bonus I will perform a FREE patent search on your invention and provide you with my opinion on its patentability (a $1500 value).

So here are the 3 invention starter ideas:

1. MASHUP OF WEATHER RADAR IMAGES AND GOOGLE EARTH TO CONTROL SMART PV POWER GENERATION SYSTEM: The National Weather Service of NOAA provides real-time radar images of weather and cloud patterns over the U.S. ( If weather radar images of clouds can be mashed up with Google Earth maps of specific locations, then one can predict when clouds will pass over a PV facility location so that the output of the PV facility can be conditioned (with energy put in and out of storage) to avoid sharp output swings to the grid or any connected power network.

2. ON-SITE MODULAR APPLIANCE CONTROLLERS USING POWER LINE SIGNALLING: Prior developments have shown how to send data signals over a 60-cycle power supply line to connected terminals. If a smart controller for a home PV array could turn down appliance usages when clouds are expected to pass over the site (see Item #1 above), then backup power would not need to be purchased from the grid at full retail price. Why not create a standardized module that plugs in-line between an appliance cord and a wall socket and can be programmed to mimic remote control signals to turn up or down the energy usage of the appliance? For example, a signal can be sent to turn up or down the thermostat for an A/C unit, light dimmer switches, electric appliances, etc., depending on the expected direction of PV array output.

3. WIND TURBINES FOR UTILIZING HIGHWAY WIND TUNNELS: Zooming cars on highways generate high wind tunneling along the directions of traffic. Why not put up aesthetically pleasing arrays of axial wind turbines on highway fencing that can turn the wind tunneling into electrical energy for storage in on-site batteries to power roadside emergency devices, signs and street lights?

Contest Rules

This contest is being offered on May 5th (Cinco de Mayo) to celebrate our hope for freedom from having our local economy colonized by foreign oil producers. Submissions must be submitted by email dated by noon July 4th, Independence Day. This contest offer is limited to participants residing in the State of Hawaii as of the date of submission.

Submissions must be in the form of a pdf file sent to my email address below containing: (1) a printout of this contest offer with acceptance of its terms and conditions signed and dated by the actual inventor/participant, and listing their residence address; and (2) an overview description of their new, useful and nonobvious solution for any of the above invention starter ideas (text on no more than 2 letter size pages accompanied by no more than two drawing figures).

I will review the submissions and determine (in my sole judgment and discretion) a winning entry of the best invention solution for each invention starter idea, as well as all runners-up who send in qualifying submissions. Submissions will be kept confidential by me unless publicized by the inventor or otherwise published. Winners and runners-up will be announced by September 7th, Labor Day. The presentation of the Golden Bagel Awards to the winners will be scheduled later in the year.

I recommend that those participants who believe they have come up with unique inventions that may be commercially valuable seek to protect them by filing for patents if warranted. As the contest judge for all submissions, I will not handle patent applications for any contest participants, but I refer those seeking to patent to any of the other qualified patent practitioners we have in Hawaii. I invite those qualified patent practitioners in Hawaii to identify themselves to the contest participants by sending a comment to this blog entry.

Those seeking to patent should file their patent applications before May 5, 2010, in order to avoid any prior art effect in the U.S. that might arise from publication of this contest. I am dedicating the 3 invention starter ideas to the public domain and waive any claim to co-inventorship with contest participants. Those who file for patents should claim as their inventions only their own new, useful, and nonobvious invention solutions, and not the starter ideas themselves.

To promote my proposal for a “patent-free zone” for renewable energy technology in Hawaii (see my February 1 blog), any participant submitting a qualifying entry in this contest shall agree to share a non-exclusive, royalty–free license under any U.S. patent they may obtain with all other qualifying participants in this contest, of the right to make, use, or sell, in the State of Hawaii only, the invention solution they submitted in this contest. In this way, inventors responding to an invention starter idea cannot sue each other over patent rights on their invention solutions in Hawaii. Participants who obtain patent rights are free to license and/or enforce such patent rights outside of the State of Hawaii if they so choose.


Contest Participant:

Dated: ____________________

Submission Accepted as Qualifying for Contest:

Leighton K. Chong, Contest Master

Dated: ____________________

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Comment by Leighton K. Chong on May 17, 2009 at 8:23am
Thanks, Dan. Yes, #1 is just a starter idea, as to which an inventor can create a most practical and nonobvious solution with real-time cloud data from any source mashed up with accurate location data from any source. As to #3, there are tubular wind turbines which turn on fixed longitudinal axes (easier to maintain than airborne) that might double nicely as visual and sound fence barriers for highways. Another difficult problem might be highway vandalism. A good inventor will need to these types of practical issues into account.
Comment by Daniel Leuck on May 17, 2009 at 7:25am
Hi Leighton. I think this contest and the patent-free zone are great ideas. I assume the actual cloud data can come from anywhere, including a non-web source, correct?

#3 is interesting. I've been following some very interesting developments in airborne wind turbines. They have the potential to generate enormous amounts of electricity, far more than tower wind turbines. The obvious challenge is maintenance costs.
Comment by Leighton K. Chong on May 15, 2009 at 6:28am
Glad to have you enter the contest, Cameron. As for the GOLDEN BAGEL AWARD, it has a long and venerable history. I lived and worked in New York City as a patent attorney for 22 years before moving back to Hawaii in 1997. While in New York, I was part of a community service group that undertook charitable projects with other groups in NYC neighborhoods. My group created the GOLDEN BAGEL AWARD To acknowledge the best community project undertaken each year. Upon moving back to Hawaii, I revived the award for the Intellectual Property & Technology Law Section of the Hawaii State Bar Association which I chaired in 2006-2007 to recognize the best achievement in the intellectual property field in Hawaii each year. The award is now being extended to recognize the best achievements in the Invention Contest in 2009.
Comment by Cameron Souza on May 14, 2009 at 10:33pm
I might take a stab at #1. How did you come up with the name "GOLDEN BAGEL AWARD"?
Comment by Leighton K. Chong on May 14, 2009 at 2:21pm
Hi John:

Thanks for your comment. I was trying to find out the refresh rate from the site myself. But this is what makes it an invention contest. Someone will need to apply some inventiveness to figure out a solution! (1) Use an interpolation algorithm? (2) Get a live data feed from NWS?
Comment by John on May 14, 2009 at 1:57pm
For the cloud map, see: and

Two potential problems may exist: (1) the cloud data seems to be updated only every 3 hours and (2) the online map did not provide the clouds at very detailed resolutions.


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