Horse Owner and Water Post User
On the 22nd of October, 2016, we spoke to Mrs. Gail Schmidt over Skype, who owns a stable up in Milton. She was having problems with her water post, and we wanted to talk to her about our idea at the time and about specifics about horses. The very first thing that we did was explain our idea to her, and she liked it very much as a horse owner. She brought up to us an interesting point. Some horse owners have problems with letting a horse have its halter out in the field. It helps catch them in a field, but can also get caught and hurt the horse, turning the concept of free ranging halters into a benefit over risk scenario. She said that at her stables, she uses halters, but other stables that don’t would definitely use them with the added bonus of being able to track horse water intake.
She has a variety of problems with her pipes, and explained them to us. She uses the drinking post waterer, and finds that even below the frost line, it will freeze, because of a orefice problem. It uses a french drain, and wastes water.
We asked her to stress to us why it is important to have the horses drink water and know why they are drinking. She responded that dehydration is typically a side effect of other problems that the horse is having. It is important to know how much water they are drinking because they could develop colic and die.
Finally, we asked her about specific measurements of horses. She said that horses are measured in hands, and there are 4” to a hand. She said that for water consumption in terms of weight, her smallest horse is 600 pounds, and her largest horse is 1200 pounds. In terms of height, her largest horse is 17 and ½ hands, and her smallest horse is 10 hands.
Mr. Lim met with our team on three occasions throughout the season. He was an FLL judge a few years and travels the world working on engineering and mechanical problems. He first visited us on the 15th of October, and we pitched our current solution to him and our problem. He liked the concept, but realized as someone who has heard pitches before, that ours needed some work, especially in how we explained our problem. But after he told us that, he started to explain Key Parameters. Key parameters are the variables that will affect our solution and its operation. He asked us to think about these, and how far we had to discriminate variables, which means how precise measurements would have to be in some variables. He told us to keep in mind that in the real world, simpler solutions will always work better.
Mr. Slaney was contacted by us in order to see about patenting our product. We emailed him designs of our prototype. When we emailed him, he told us that he would be more than happy to help us out. We gave him a general synopsis of our idea in our first email to him.
Our team talked for a little bit about whether we should call him in right away, with only the raw drawings and explanations of our idea, but we decided that we would wait until our prototype was finished. That way, he could visually see and interpret our idea to make his job of patenting it easier for him.
After provincials, we did meet with Mr. Slaney. He talked to us about the general process of submitting a patent application. We showed him our prototype and he loved it. We have put together a US patent application with general information of our problem, our solution, and many diagrams and schematics. Under the legal section, you can see the patent application that he helped us draw up, and because of his help, the H2O Post is Patented.
After FIRST World Festival, our team started preparing for the Global Innovation Award. Due to major product updates, our patent needed to be updated. We contacted Brett again, and, for a small fee, he updated the patent again for us.