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Nikola Tesla has said, “I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success.” It’s also been said that each of us will have a million dollar idea in our lifetime, but only a fraction will see that idea through. Clearly, the difference between being an idea person and being an inventor is the perseverance to turn that idea into reality.

When an inventor applies for a patent, he or she is saying to the world, “This is my idea.”As you may imagine, over the years patents have run the gamut from sheer brilliance to the totally absurd. For fun, here are some patent ideas that are really out there:

  • Computer mind control: A new Microsoft patent explains the company’s plans for technology that taps EEG readings to let users operate apps with their mind. Users would wear a headset that measures neurological activity and train the device to correlate brain signal information to corresponding app functions.
  • High-five machine: For those times when you need to celebrate and there’s no one around. This 1993 patent mounts to the wall or sits on your desk, ready and waiting for that special moment.
  • Wind-harnessing bike: Imagine that you like to bike, but you also like to sail. Then this 2004 patent is for you. It has a massive sail on the back to give you a little extra energy going forward.
  • Life-sized interactive bowl of soup: From the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up-department, someone not only thought of this, but patented it in 1999. Perfect for carnivals, this device includes a fog layer at the top of the bowl.
  • Vibrating tattoo: Nokia really wants to make sure you don’t miss any of your phone calls. In 2011, the company filed a patent for a tattoo that would vibrate when a call or text came in.

How to get a patent for your mechanical device

The reasons are clear why you would like to patent your device—it’s the only way to make money from your invention and help make sure the idea isn’t stolen—but how do you take that amazing idea and turn it into a reality? Entrepreneur.com lists the five steps needed:

  1. Document your idea: The first step to patenting your idea is to document it. Inventor’s journals were created for this purpose.
  2. Research your idea: You’ll want to perform a patent search to make sure the idea isn’t already out there. You’ll also want to research the market for your invention. Is this something that people will buy? Have you seen the giant bowl of soup anywhere?
  3. Make a prototype of your idea. This brings your idea into reality and answers the question will it actually work?
  4. File the patent: When you’re convinced the idea will work in reality and that people will line up to buy your device, file a patent. An experienced intellectual property attorney can not only help you with the patent search, but help you navigate the patent process to protect your idea from unfair use.
  5. Go to market: This is the time to create that business plan and answer a few questions in the process. Where will your funding come from? Where will you manufacture the product? How will it be sold?

Leonardo da Vinci wisely said, “It had long come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” Let your imagination soar and go turn your ideas into reality, but don’t forget to protect them with a patent.