200 Patents and Counting for Kodak Alaris’ Joe Manico

JoeM_Blog_Color

Joe Manico (Photo Credit: David B. Goldstein)

At the recent Personalized Imaging Global Town Meeting, Dennis Olbrich recognized one of the Kodak Alaris team members for achieving the milestone of acquiring his 200th United States Patent.  Joe Manico was surprised at the attention he received at the start of the meeting and was quoted as saying, “I had no idea, I’m just glad that I got to the meeting on time”.  Joe joined PI in November of 2012 as a Patent Engineer, but he has had a long history of innovation and intellectual property that started back in 1975.  Since then, Joe has come up with creative inventions and has acquired patents in areas of technology including; digital imaging, film and digital cameras, innovative digital displays, printers, and print finishing systems.

I asked Joe a few questions about being a Patent Engineer…

Manico

Very Early Career: Joe a long time ago starting his career – circa 1975

Q: What is your background, your schooling for instance? How does one become a Patent Engineer?

A: “I have taken a very unconventional path and do not recommend it, to quote my High School Guidance Counselor after she learned that I had won a NYS Regents’ Scholarship, “We never thought you were slow or anything but we never expected this?” I didn’t expect it either. I was more interested in making rockets and models than school, except for the chemistry and physics labs.  I got lucky; over the years I’ve had a lot of different jobs in research and development which exposed me to some brilliant mentors, all kinds of new technologies, and engineering and scientific techniques and procedures.  These experiences provided me many opportunities to solve problems and to be creative.  It helped working in environments where there was more interest in the right solution than the right process or credentials.  I’ve always been drawn to work that involves innovation and creativity, and when that work involves technology that leads to intellectual property.”

"final stage" hydro-pneumatic powered video camera rocket

“final stage” hydro-pneumatic powered video camera rocket

Q: You must constantly be writing on the back of napkins or waking up in the middle of the night with ideas. What best practices do you have for maintaining focus, organization and process?

A: “Yes, many scraps of paper.  It’s critical to always write it down.  In whatever your preferred form, paper or digital, make a sketch, write a few sentences, anything to document the idea, even if at the time sounds funny or seems impractical.  The next step is to refine or expand the original scraps of paper or digital note into a more formal format.  For inventions, a simplified ‘Patent Application’ format works well for me; title, date, a brief abstract, and a few annotated sketches.  For product concepts, I like the ‘Print Ad’ format, which gives you one page to communicate the features and benefits of your idea to a potential customer. What’s nice about these forms of documentation is that they can help convey your ideas to a broader audience and by using these slightly more rigid formats it forces you to really think about your idea and solve potential problems with it or think about alternative approaches.  The same thing goes for a simple print ad; it forces you to think about it.  If you do this enough it becomes a habit.  As far as organization my natural way of thinking is to ‘compartmentalize’.  Everything related to an idea goes in the same labeled mental, hardcopy, and/or digital folder.

Kayak Dog: An attachment Joe made so his dog could go on Kayak rides.

Kayak Dog: An attachment Joe made so his dog could go on Kayak rides.

Q: Do you ever get “inventor’s block”, like “writer’s block”? After 200 patents, how do you keep coming up with fresh ideas?

A: “I wouldn’t call it a block, but sometimes you know there is a better solution that you just haven’t thought of yet.  All patents are solutions to problems.  If you like to think about problems you will have ideas.  The more you focus on a specific problem the more ideas you will have on how to solve it.  It’s about picking right problem to focus on.  The real key for me when managing your own ideas, or problem solutions, is to embrace and discard with the same enthusiasm.  If you are working on a problem, dump an idea as soon as you think of a better one.  It’s hard and counter-intuitive, but don’t get emotionally attached to your ideas.  It will help you have more ideas.”

Joe's now 26 year-old daughter Carley!  in "Action Photo" early prototype (Print from Video)

Joe’s now 26 year-old daughter Carley! in “Action Photo” early prototype (Print from Video)

Q: How does your team support one another in what would seem like a competitive environment?

A: “That’s a great question.  A diverse team can analyze a problem from many different perspectives and provides broader set of potential solutions.  If the team has a mutually agreed upon objective and includes many different disciplines and skills then your chances of success really increase.  We are fortunate to work in an environment where people are more than willing to share their ideas and opinions.  I think people realize that the more we work together the more we all will succeed.”

Joe's home work space and desk

Joe’s home work space and desk – with patent awards hanging on the wall

Q: Why are patents important to a company like Kodak Alaris?

A: “Generally speaking, patents are important to any company involved in innovation that leads to new products and services. Companies need to protect their efforts and investments in research and development and patents provide that protection.”

DCP_0888

Rotor Kite: Home made high wind rotor kite

Q: Do you think you will make it to 300 patents?

A: “Well, if I do I’ll make it to Wikipedia, that’s their prolific inventor threshold.  I don’t really have numeric goals like that; I get satisfaction out of the process.  I like to invent things, file patents, and see inventions in products.  But, just like with cats; they chase things, they kill things, and they eat things but each of these activities provides its own rewards or there would be no multi-billion dollar cat toy industry.  You have to learn that every idea will not become a patent or make it to the market, but you can’t win if you don’t play.”

Homemade "Sea Crocks"

Homemade “Sea Crocks”

Q: If you weren’t a Patent Engineer at Kodak Alaris what do you think you would be doing?

A: “I’m not sure but I think it would involve working on inventions in some form.  I’ve always liked making things, drawing, and writing but my current role provides the resources and opportunities that are very rare to come by so I really appreciate the work and do my best to make the most of it.”

Transformed by Our Response to Racism

I have witnessed racism first hand, both personally and in my professional life.  We know that racism happens throughout the world, but I need neither be a business leader nor a parent of children of color to have been touched and transformed by our response to racism.

Everyone experiences racism in one form or another.  How it impacts us may differ, but to eliminate racism, we must all take a stand – and it starts with awareness.

Kodak’s stand against racism takes place every day.  As our company’s Global Diversity Director, I and Kodak’s senior executives lead our efforts to ensure that our workplaces are free of harassment, and that our employees are treated with dignity, fairness and respect.

The key is that we act to prevent discrimination and harassment in our workplaces.  We do this in several ways:

  • The first of our Kodak Values sets forth an expectation that we treat others with respect for the dignity of the individual.
  • Our senior executives set diversity and inclusion goals for themselves and their operations, and are accountable for meeting those goals.
  • We offer the employee networks representing diverse constituencies at Kodak the opportunity to engage with our senior leaders, and to lead education and awareness-building sessions open to all employees.
  • We require employees to complete an annual review of Kodak’s policies that help enable an engaged, inclusive workforce free of discrimination and harassment.
  • We actively work to develop and sponsor diversity within our global workforce.
  • We reach out and partner with members of our community who share a commitment to ending racism and to build a thriving and diverse environment.

We know that our continued engagement in diversity and inclusion, and against racism, is essential.

eps_logo

Kodak is one of hundreds of organizations that have raised their hands in support of the YWCA’s mission and vision statement, “The YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all”.  This statement embodies Kodak values.  In what has become a movement that we observe annually, the

April 26 “Stand Against Racism” observance asks companies, universities, schools, and other organizations to hold an event, private or public, where participants gather to take a pledge to work against racism.  You can learn more about this endeavor at www.standagainstracism.org.

It’s true that we are a society touched and transformed by our response to racism, but racism doesn’t own us.  What it does is challenge us to take a stand and transform our workplaces and communities.  “Be the change you want to see in the world” is a famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi.  So when we encounter racism, confront it, decry it, and take action to prevent its spread.  And, just as importantly, let’s positively promote equality and fairness for all.  Let’s recognize and celebrate our uniqueness and differences and harness this in a way that is beneficial to our employees, customers, organizations and our children.  Let’s foster hope in the hearts of our young and encourage their vision of a world of equality and peace.  They can see it, feel it, and live it.

Celebrate Earth Day with Kodak Adaptive Picture Exchange (APEX)

As Earth Day approaches each year, I like to reflect on things that I have done to improve our environment and make a difference. Did you know that many Kodak products have features and benefits with reduced environmental impact? This year I have been reflecting on the environmental benefits of the KODAK Adaptive Picture Exchange (APEX) and would like to share those benefits with you. The APEX dry lab system uses digital print technology.  This technology eliminates the need to print pictures with water and processing chemicals, which also reduces chemical storage and disposal costs.KODAK_APEX70

In addition, the APEX reduces energy consumption when printing a picture.  By now you are thinking “show me the data”.

The APEX doesn’t need energy to maintain chemistry and paper drying processes.

Energy use was compared to the following representative systems in a retail setting: the KODAK Adaptive Picture Exchange (APEX), NORITSU QSS-2711DLS, FRONTIER 340 Digital Mini Lab, FUJI FRONTIER 570 Digital Mini Lab, and GRETAG Master Lab+ 742.

The electricity required by each system to deliver a standard print volume, 1000 prints per 24-hr period, was measured and used to calculate total energy consumption per a 4 x 6 print. This energy analysis suggested that Kodak’s APEX System consumes 70-90% less energy when compared to traditional photoprocessing minilabs.

The APEX has earned the Kodak Cares logo because of this energy savings comparison.

Greener prints Kodak Cares Logo

The environmental benefits of the APEX do not end with energy savings. Photo paper used to create a print is sourced from PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes) certified sources.  This means that each print is created with paper from a sustainably managed forest.

And, one more benefit, the packaging used in the media to create a print is suitable for local recycling and plastic parts are labeled to facilitate proper sorting.

Celebrate Earth Day by printing your pictures, enlargements, collages, and other photo gifts at a retailer that uses the Kodak APEX dry lab. Happy Earth Day!