Improvides Blog and Articles2022-01-21T15:26:24+01:00

I now write all my articles on our community blog Idea to

Go there to get all of my latest insights on innovation, creativity and making ideas happen. However, links to the latest articles should still appear below here:

Archive: Previous Improvides blog articles

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September 2016

10 Famous inventions that were the culmination of other people’s work

A dirty (yet open) secret about innovation is that most great breakthroughs don’t happen thanks to a single lone genius. While history is full of stories of famous inventors, who are often national heroes, in almost every case they were just the first people to improve an existing system to the final stage where it […]

How tattoos (and laser tattoo removal) work in super-slow motion

One of the most ancient and personal forms of art is the tattoo: getting a permanent piece of attached to your own body. But as someone who has never had a tattoo before, I was fascinated to learn exactly how you can get something permanent into your skin that doesn’t fall off as you grow […]

August 2016

The story of Kelvin Doe: The poor Sierra Leone teen who wowed M.I.T.’s engineers

This 15 year old taught himself engineering and managed to use scrap to build working generators, batteries and even an FM Radio Transmitter. The video above shows the fascinating story of Kelvin Doe. He is a child from a very poor district of Sierra Leone’s capital city Freetown. The area is in such rough shape, with electricity […]

When Castro blocked Cubans from the internet, they created their own

Some of the world’s greatest innovations cannot be stopped once people find out about them, even when the government tries. This is the story of the people of Cuba, who created their own informal internet and content distribution system when the communist government wouldn’t allow them access to the world wide web. Check out the […]

Could this crazy new Elevated Bus solve China’s crippling traffic?

This is an incredible example of how quickly innovations can be turned from ideas into real-world experiments. A few months ago in May 2016, I saw some internet articles about a new public transport design from China: a “Transit Elevated Bus” (TEB) system which would drive above cars and be a frankenstein mix between a […]

Who is on the opposite side of the earth to you? Probably nobody

Have you ever wondered who exactly is standing on the opposite side of the world to you? The answer is probably no one. When I was young there was a story that if you dug a hole deep enough for you to come out on the other side of the Earth and that you would […]

Evidence that children become less creative over time (and how to fix it)

Professor George Land gives an inspiring TED talk into his research of creativity in children and adults, with some shocking findings about how creativity levels change throughout a child’s life. Watch the video above, and then see the discussion below. The nature vs nurture debate is one that is ongoing and many studies have been […]

How do free games and apps make money?

With the recent blockbuster success of Pokemon Go, people are asking how a free game has managed to pull in more than $160 million in its first month. Welcome to the “freemium” business model, which over the past decade has quietly completely changed entire industries. In the video above, Vox outlines the simple mechanics of […]

Warren Buffet’s powerful “Two List” productivity tip for creative people

Warren Buffet is known as one of the most successful and generous investors of all time. And he recently shared one tip for how to spend less time procrastinating and more time actually executing your ideas. My colleague James Taylor brought it to my attention in his recent video, which you can see above (you […]

July 2016

Watch Steamboat Willie for free: The original Disney Mickey Mouse cartoon

One of the most important videos in the history of cinema, Walt Disney has just made their original hit Steamboat Willie available for free. Check it out in the video above. The cartoon was released in November 1928, and was the first appearance by Mickey Mouse. What makes this such a seminal and important moment […]

Too lazy to do the gardening? This free robot does it for you

This open-source robotic innovation aims to make everyone a backyard farmer, letting you grow a variety of vegetables without ever having to look after them. If you think that sounds too good to be true, you’re probably not alone. Check out the video above to see how it works. But a young startup community called […]

Will an intelligent computer ever be able to create art?

We are already seeing how Artificial Intelligence can begin to make creative projects, acting as a form of artificial creativity. But will it ever be able to truly create a piece of art? In the interesting video above, host Mike Rugnetta from the PBS Idea Channel discusses his interpretation of whether a computer is able […]

How tennis balls are made

Small, green, fuzzy and a favorite of pets everywhere, tennis balls are one of the most popular pieces of sports equipment in the world. But how are they made? Vimeo user Benedict Redgrove uploaded a video he made documenting the whole process from start to finish at the Wilson factory for balls destined for the […]

NYC Buses prove innovation must start with the customer

When asked about what was most important to them, people using the buses in New York City just gave the public transport department a big surprise. In an interesting new report just published by research group Transitcenter, people who ride the buses overwhelming voted that the fancy new innovations being installed on buses (like Wifi […]

Inside the mind of a creative genius: Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog is regarded as one of our greatest living film directors, and recently gave an intimate insight into his thought processes when creating some of his masterpieces. Although many people will know only his distinctive German accent from his many narration sequences, he is widely recognised as a visionary filmmaker, writer, author and actor, […]

Join me for an evening of cocktails and creativity on August 2nd

People often say that the best ideas should be discussed over a drink, so this is an opportunity not to be missed 🙂 I’m going to be holding a very special insight evening in early August in as part of event firm Funzing’s Inspiring Lectures series. In it, I’ll be talking about some of the most interesting insights […]

My interview on the Creative Life Podcast with James Taylor

I was recently interviewed for another podcast series, this time hosted by James Taylor. You can listen to the podcast in the embedded video above or on his website. James is another creativity consultant from the UK, who focuses on helping predominantly people working in the Creative Industries, especially music. In addition to discussing the […]

Should a car be able to decide who to kill and who to spare?

Inevitably, and unfortunately, sometimes when there are big innovations which work with both humans and machinery, there will be fatalities. This week, the first known fatality happened with something that will be affecting millions of us in a few years time: Automated driving by cars. Yesterday, the driver of a Tesla S (which are known […]

The amazing CGI behind that unforgettable Games of Thrones battle

I love Game of Thrones. It’s almost a perfect TV show, with a wonderful blend of story, visuals, fantasy and characters. [Ed: And don’t forget the sex] And messy, visceral violence. Few episodes have showed quite how violent and yet realistic war can be as the wonderful penultimate episode of Season 6, called the “Battle of […]

This is the new blackest material in the world, absorbing over 99.965% of light

You know that little black dress you’ve had your eye on, because black hides imperfections? Well, it’s about to get significantly blacker. Surrey Nanosystems has just released details on their newest product, called Vantablack. It is a carbon nanotube-based system (where each tube is just one atom thick), and the special way that these nanotubes […]

June 2016

Are you one of 2.5% of people who can multitask?

There is an old joke that women are better multi taskers than men. My girlfriend tried to tell me this joke while we were out walking once, but I didn’t understand it until I stood still 🙂 On a more serious note though, is it actually possible to multi task? The research seems to suggest […]

What pisses off creative people more than anything else

Everyone who has a naturally creative spark knows the dreaded feeling. The moment you realise that you’re actually being discouraged from having ideas because other people think they’re a waste of time. Have you ever experienced this: Your boss, manager or CEO decides that they need to come up with some new ideas for something. […]