200 Patents and Counting for Kodak Alaris’ Joe Manico

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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.”

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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.”

Sports Party

It’s winter school break in our part of the world and despite the cabin fever, we are stuck at home for the week. I thought a good way to end the kids’ vacation would be to let them have a few friends over on Saturday. Since there just happens to be some major international sporting events taking place, we decided on a sports-themed party.

The first staple of any good party—the food. I know we’ll need lots of it considering the pack of pre-teen and teen boys we expect as guests. In addition to the typical junk food, I plan on preparing the Sporty Party Food, using pictures of the boys’ friends and the US flags. I will probably make the sliders shown here, but these food picks work well for a variety of foods, especially desserts.

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I’m putting the boys in charge of decorations, and they have the rest of the week to work on that part. I wouldn’t be surprised if I see lots of USA flags and pictures of skiers, skaters and snowboarders when I get home from work.

For favors, we’re going to make these Photo Party Favors. Luckily, my nephew is just moving into his first apartment and was going to get rid of his old sports trophies. So I grabbed those up and we are going to spray paint them red, white and blue and add photos of the boys’ friends.

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Now I just have to come up with some ways for the kids to burn off some of the energy and excitement that’s sure to result from watching the televised sports.  I guess I could always send them out in the snow to play…

Lastly, I have to find a way to work the new buzzword of the season into the party. If you have any suggestions for a creative way to incorporate TWIZZLE, please comment below!

You can find more sports themed party and photo project ideas on the Kodak Tips and Projects Center.

Skiing and My Kodak Moment’s app

It has been an epic winter for skiiing.  My family spent last Saturday tearing it up on the slopes; what a bluebird day!  I grabbed a few shots with my iPhone — I love the colors of downhill skiing, especially on a sunny day.

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These shots were so good I made a quick photo book with them, using the KODAK My Kodak Moments app.  It took me 10 minutes to create the book; all you need to do is download and start the app, select “Create and Order from Phone”, select “Simple Picture Books”, pick your size, and make it.  The app lets you use all those smartphone pictures you are taking but never seem to make it in print.  I picked 10 shots, did a simple reorder, picked my nearest Target store, and voila — I will pick up the book on my way home.

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A memorable day, now even more memorable with my simple photo book!

You can download the My Kodak Moment mobile app for your iPhone or Android device here and get started right away?

Kodak Alaris names CEO

Today Steven Ross, Kodak Alaris Holdings Limited’s Interim Chairman, publicly welcomed our first Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ralf Gerbershagen.  It is my pleasure to welcome Ralf.  His appointment adds to our strong team as he possesses a wealth of talent and expertise as well as a perspective that will help to drive our business. This is an exciting announcement for our new company.

Thank you.  Your loyalty drives our success.

- Dennis Olbrich

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Kodak Alaris Holdings Limited business update from Steven Ross:

I am pleased to announce that Ralf Gerbershagen will join Kodak Alaris Holdings Limited as CEO on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. He will report to me in my role as Interim Chairman of Kodak Alaris. He will assist in finalising the new board structure, and continue our transformation required to take the business forward.

Ralf joins us from Motorola Mobility—currently part of Google—where he held several leadership positions including Managing Director Motorola Germany GmbH and VP & General Manager Motorola Mobility Europe. Ralf started his professional career at Siemens where he was in charge of the Passive Components business in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. He holds a degree in general electronics and computer science from Bingen University.

He is on the board of directors at the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany; the board of BITKOM, the IT and telecomm industry association; and is a member of the CeBIT advisory board—the world’s largest IT trade fair.

Ralf’s considerable business knowledge and leadership experience combined with Kodak Alaris’ strong resources and management talent position us well to lead the development of breakthrough products and services that you expect from the diverse Kodak Alaris businesses.

He will be based in the UK at Hemel Hempstead. Gary Fisher, Kodak Alaris Interim Human Resources Director; Phil Gibbons, Kodak Alaris Chief Financial Officer; Dolores Kruchten, President, Kodak Alaris’ Document Imaging division; and Dennis Olbrich, President, Kodak Alaris’ Personalized Imaging division, will report to Ralf.

I hope that you will have an opportunity to meet with Ralf in the near future. He has tremendous enthusiasm for the business and a deep commitment to fostering success for and with our customers.

Thank you for your ongoing support. We are honored to work with you now and for many years to come.

Yours Sincerely,

Steven Ross

Chairman, Kodak Alaris Holdings Limited

Bringing then to the now with iMemories

I think we can all agree that the vintage look, feel and sound of film and VHS can conjure up nostalgic memories but it can prove difficult for some of us to figure out how to share those precious moments. People want to keep a connection with their memories and a company called iMemories has made it possible to turn your original film into digitally restored masterpieces and VHS into custom DVDs.

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Whether you are celebrating more than a decade of marriage, revisiting your child’s younger years, or just ready to update to digital, iMemories will preserve your originals in a digitized format with brilliant color enhancement and at the highest resolution possible.

iMemories makes updating, accessing and sharing old family videos and photos easier than ever before. A simple sign up process that only requires an email and a password gets you well on your way to creating, storing, and backing up custom photos and movies that you can endlessly share with friends and family.

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Without a doubt, your precious memories are priceless right? I know mine are. iMemories’ services start as low as $5 a month for cloud storage so investing in memories has never looked forward to such a clear future.

Photo Projects for a Memorable Valentine’s Day

When it comes to crafting and holidays, Valentine’s Day is right up there for me. It’s all hearts and pink and glitter! I got pretty excited when we started working on some photo projects to share this season on the Kodak Tips and Projects Center. We love adding photos to Valentine’s decorations, cards and gifts because it adds a personal touch. Here are some of the fun ideas we came up with…

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My co-worker, Patricia made this adorable frame with an inexpensive frame, a hot glue gun, and real candy hearts. Bonus? It smells delicious!

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This is the world’s tiniest Valentine’s photo project! Mini-prints at Kodak Picture Kiosk are perfect for making this secret message clothespin.

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You can make this cute heart garland with photos and patterned paper for hanging in your house or even embellishing a gift.

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Hand out treats in these photo tubes. Super easy to make.

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This is where the glitter comes in. After you make a card at Kodak Picture Kiosk, make it extra fancy with glue, glitter, sequins or anything else cute you find in the crafting aisle. Right now all cards at Kodak Picture Kiosk are 33% off.

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We have had this project around for awhile but it’s a favorite. After you eat all the chocolate from your heart shaped candy box, turn it into a picture frame!

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Here is something for the photo adventurous. We have instructions for making heart shaped bokeh.

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Do you have kids that are exchanging Valentines at school? You can make photo cards at Kodak Picture Kiosk with their pictures on them. Get creative with the photo to personalize the cards even more. It helps that all cards are now 33% off for Valentine’s Day.

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This is an idea that really pops. Make prints and add a lollipop for a really cute card/gift.

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We have lots of ideas for taking photos that are perfect for making fun cards and photo books in the Tips and Projects Center. I hope these have inspired you to make this Valentine’s Day a memorable one! We had fun coming up with them for you. Any day you get to use a hot glue gun in the office is a good one!

Find a Kodak Picture Kiosk near you.

Film Friday: Film Box: A Lab for Photographers by Photographers

By: Brittany Price

 What defines a successful photographer? Raw talent, experience and an eye for beauty are among the obvious answers, as these skills are essential in the photographic arts. Ryan Bernal and Austin Gros, two Nashville photographers, entrepreneurs and the founders of Film Box, are of the opinion that it takes more than just skill and experience to make it in the photo industry. It takes a family.

The  Film Box Team - shot using Kodak Professional Portra 800 Film

The Film Box Team – shot using Kodak Professional Portra 800 Film

Film Box, a Nashville-based film lab, welcomes photographers and visitors in as part of that family. Situated within a charming, historic blue and white home, this film studio embodies something completely other than your run-of-the-mill, one-hour photo lab. At Film Box, there exists a striking balance between professionalism and comfort. This team provides the highest caliber of photo film processing, while inviting photographers to sit down, have a cup of coffee and engage with a warm community of fellow creatives. The Film Box experience feels like coming home.

Film Box from Film Box on Vimeo.

Image by Austin Grosl© shot using Kodak Professional Portra 400 Film

Image by Austin Gros© shot using Kodak Professional Portra 400 Film

The vision for Film Box and an innovative, photographic community came from Bernal and Gros’ recognition that they were a part of an artistic circle with no place to go. Bernal explains, “We dreamed up the idea of a place, in Nashville, that brings photographers to one spot. There are a lot of photographers, but there’s no place that brings them together. We want to have this cornerstone of our community where, if you’re a photographer, you know about Film Box and you’re part of something, of what we’re doing.” This studio was created to support and expand the talents of photographers, to act as a backbone and hub for an artistic community.

Image by Ryan Bernal© shot using Kodak Professional Portra 400 Film

Image by Ryan Bernal© shot using Kodak Professional Portra 400 Film

Film Box not only develops film, but photographers as well. This begins with their comprehensive ‘Custom Style Profile.’ When a new client walks into Film Box, he or she is asked to provide extensive information about who they are as a photographer: from style and personal taste, to cameras and stocks of film, down to metering and countless other small details. This ‘Custom Style Profile’ enables the Film Box team to begin an ongoing conversation with each individual photographer about his or her body of work, abilities and aspirations. It creates a ‘snapshot’ of the photographer’s professional and personal goals, allowing the knowledgeable Film Box staff to provide feedback and assist the photographer in working towards their dreams.

Image by Austin Grosl© shot using Kodak Professional Portra 400 Film

Image by Austin Gros© shot using Kodak Professional Portra 400 Film

When a photographer hands a roll of film to the staff at Film Box, those photos are placed in the care of some of Nashville’s most talented, exceptional film specialists. As Bernal and Gros dreamt up Film Box, they spent countless months preparing, processing film, perfecting their abilities and knack for photo developing. Both of the Film Box founders understand film photography because both shoot almost exclusively with film. Bernal has shot and developed film since he was a teenager, rambling about Phoenix with a camera. Gros got a taste of film while shooting weddings and never looked back. Bernal, Gros and their staff are uniquely qualified to provide exactly the type of professional assistance and mentorship that was, prior to Film Box, far too difficult to come by in the photographic community.

Image by Ryan Bernal© shot using Kodak Professional Portra 400 Film

Image by Ryan Bernal© shot using Kodak Professional Portra 400 Film

Though Bernal and Gros currently work with a large number of well-established professional photographers, their dream is two-fold: to not only cultivate a thriving photographic community amongst existing photographers, but to also educate and inspire new photographers and the creative community at large to keep the medium of film alive. The Film Box team cannot help but get excited about those who want to make the transition to film. Gros was one of those photographers, as he recounts, “When I first started shooting weddings, I was shooting digital. Film seemed like this big, scary thing. My advice to people who are interested is to just try it. You’ll be surprised how quickly you will be able to make the jump.”

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The Film Box staff believes that film is here to stay. Bernal insists, “People are turning back to film. Not only does opinion support that it often looks better, but photographers are better off training themselves to be film photographers because it trains us to be better.” He believes that all artists are looking to grow and improve. He sees film photography as that next step. Photo printing, educational ‘photo walks’, workshops, maybe even a community darkroom are in the works for Film Lab. This team will do anything to make sure film sticks around.

Image by Ryan Bernal© shot using Kodak Professional Portra 160 Film

Image by Ryan Bernal© shot using Kodak Professional Portra 160 Film

Like any good support system, the Film Box team is there to assist and guide those new to the world of film. They even recommend the essentials, to help new photographers move in the right direction. Both Bernal and Gros are fond of KODAK’s PORTRA 400 film. Gros explains, “The exposure latitude of PORTRA 400 is better than anything else that’s out there right now. For someone who hasn’t shot film before, it gives them the ability to miss a little and still get great results.” He recommends pairing this with the cheapest camera body that works with a photographer’s preexisting digital lens, something along the lines of a Canon EOS 3 or Nikon F100.

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Image by Austin Grosl© shot using Kodak Professional Portra 400 Film

Film Box opened its door to the public in February of 2013 and within a period of a few, short months, word spread across the country about this innovative new venture. Bernal and Gros have created a business “by photographers, for photographers” and the artistic community has leapt to its feet in support. Bernal recognizes that people want to join the film box community because it provides exactly that: a community, “We don’t just process and scan people’s film, we become a part of their team, their photography family, I suppose. They can’t do it without us, and we can’t do it without them.” After all, it takes a family to raise a photographer.

- Brittany Price