Web Design for Invention Machine
"When you ask people how they came up with the inspiration behind their ideas, they say things like 'It came to me in the shower,'" says Invention Machine president Tom Lewis. "Our basic principle is that anyone can learn to be more inventive." Of course, when Tom says "anyone," he's mostly talking about teams of engineers and tech professionals at companies like Eastman Kodak, Xerox, and Motorola.
This Boston-based software company produces tools that offer users a more creative approach to problem-solving. Say you want to engineer a better toothbrush. The software will analyze the problem and return possible solutions, drawing on an AI-enhanced physics database (containing such esoterica as the Ranque Effect and the Curie Point Effect) and a compendium of fundamental principles of invention - principles derived from the intensive study of 2.5 million patents in diverse fields. As a result, your next-generation toothbrush might be inspired by concepts from paleontology or art restoration.
By combining its physics database (they call it a "knowledgebase") and its inventive methodology, the software can deliver many more possibilities than an engineer could come up with on her own - more than twice as many, in fact, if a recent study the company conducted with a group of MIT post-grads is any indication.
Tom tells me Invention Machine got its start in the United States in 1991 when founder Dr. Valery Tsourikov came here from his home in Belarus. But the company's roots are in Soviet-era Russia, where - as a graduate student at the Institute for Cybernetics and Informatics - Val began to work out the concepts for the software. It wasn't until the coming of perestroika that the inventor had the chance to start a company. And it was the lure of the American entrepreneurial spirit that brought him to the United States.
The company launched in Val's one-bedroom apartment, moved to a small office across from MIT, and then, at the beginning of this year, relocated to 24,000 square feet of space in an old brick warehouse on the Boston side of the river. They've got the fifth- and sixth-floor loft spaces, with "a high-tech interior" and cubes surrounding centralized open spaces. According to Tom, the office culture is interesting (to say the least), with end-of-the-year company parties that mix Russian folk dancing and American rock and roll.
Now the company employs 125 people, from its Boston headquarters and other US offices in DC, Dallas, and Los Angeles to Stockholm, Tokyo, Munich, and the London burbs. And the company's still growing, with tentative plans to open offices in France and possibly Korea in 1997. "Just to give you an idea, we have 30 job openings right now," says Tom.
One of those job openings is for a Web-design specialist. The company is looking to improve on its current Web site, which is mainly just an information resource for their products. "We aren't particularly proud of the Web site," says Tom. "It could be much better." The short-term goal for the site is to attract talent, promote the products, and reach the engineering community. But the long-term goals are a little more romantic: The team at Invention Machine is currently brainstorming to develop a Web site that would be more of a technical tool than a mere info bank.
However, for the time being, you'd design and update the company's site, creating graphics and putting together new case studies for online deployment. They're looking for someone with a bachelor's degree or equivalent experience and a formal background in graphic design, with anywhere from one to three years' experience designing for the Web.
(get this article from wired.com)
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