ANTTI KILJUNEN’S CHRISTMAS CALENDAR

Antti Kiljunen reinvented the Christmas calendar.

Antti Kiljunen reinvented the Christmas calendar.

Christmas, or Advent calendars have been around as long as anyone can remember. Antti’s digital Christmas Calendar especially customized for Finntimes readers can be found at the end of this story.

An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. Many take the form of a large rectangular card with “windows” of which there are usually 24: one for each day of December leading up to Christmas Day. The doors are opened starting with the first one. Consecutive doors are opened every day leading up to Christmas. The calendar windows open to reveal an image, poem, a portion of a story or a small gift, such as a toy or a chocolate item. Some calendars are strictly religious, whereas others are secular in content.

An Advent calendar.

An Advent calendar.

Now Antti Kiljunen has come up with an updated version of this timeless classic. Finntimes is proud  to announce that our readers have been chosen as test subjects for Antti’s Christmas Calendar of the 21st century. And here is the man behind the invention:

-I’m 33 year-old guy, originally from Paimio, southwest Finland. I graduated from Turku University, earning a B.S. in Business Administration. I now live in Espoo and work in Helsinki in the Financial/IT sector. My current job title is “Solutions Specialist”. I live with my fiancée and two crazy dogs. Right now I am anxiously waiting for our child to be born. That should take place in about two weeks from now.

Antti Kiljunen brought the Advent Calendar to the 21st century.

Antti Kiljunen brought the Advent Calendar to the 21st century.

For the past three years Antti has been fine tuning his invention.

-In the beginning there was no software component in the concept. It was all about the physical calendar. Then I realized you can use either the physical or digital version of the calendar, or both. The idea was to create the ultimate Christmas calendar. It would be something different from the ones on the market – educational and as customized as possible. So, I ordered luggage locks from China and bought hinges and lots of wood from a local hardware store and built the first prototype.

Antti the inventor.

Antti the inventor.

 

Antti has already had some publicity for his invention in Finland.

-I contacted a radio reporter from the Finnish Broadcasting Company, the channel that I listen on my way to work. Why him? Because by coincidence one morning he was talking about his tradition of making a Christmas calendar “box” for his kids every year – a big locked box that has a new surprise in it every morning. That’s sweet, I thought. This guy will like my idea for sure. And he did. We met and I gave him a prototype for testing. It was a huge hit with his three boys. This Christmas the reporter will pilot the current version of calendar.

A nativity scene.

A nativity scene.

Antti is currently testing his calendar.

-Last Christmas I got nine more pilot families to test the physical calendar. Now that I have the software too, they will use that with the physical calendar. A few companies, families and communities will pilot the digital only version, since it can be used as “stand alone”, without the physical calendar. Companies can insert digital sales coupons, company info, or season’s greetings for their customers. Families can insert texts like “Good Mike! That is the right answer. Now look in to the upper left closet in kitchen.”

A lock box.

A lock box.

Parents have hidden candies, coins, or small items to be found by kids who know the right answers. The questions are adaptable to the children’s skill level, so the calendar can be used with kids of all ages. Questions can be educational or social, like: “What is the register number of Granddad’s car?” Seldom do kids remember that kind of things, but they must either visit Grandpa, or call him. Either way, Grandpa will be very happy that his grandchildren contact him. Using the combo of physical and digital calendar, when a kid has the correct answer to the day’s question in the digital calendar, he or she gets the right lock combination number : “Way to go Paul! Good job. Open the day’s lock with code 344.”

Antti Kiljunen in New York.

Antti Kiljunen in New York.

The inventor got some help from friends and colleagues in creating the software and drawings. He hopes his invention will catch on and be found in stores – both brick and mortar and the internet kind in the future. And how is Mr. Christmas Calendar himself going to spend the holidays?

-We are probably going to stay home with our newborn and ask our relatives to visit us at Christmas.

This is the front page of Antti's calendar. DON'T CLICK ON THIS BUT THE LINK BELOW!

This is the front page of Antti’s calendar. DON’T CLICK ON THIS BUT THE LINK BELOW!

 

HERE’S ANTTI’S CHRISTMAS CALENDAR WITH CONTENT FROM FINNTIMES. HAVE FUN!

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW AND ANSWER THE QUESTION EACH DAY UNTIL CHRISTMAS EVE. THE PASSWORD IS FINNTIMES.  www.virikekalenteri.fi

WACKY, WONDERFUL INVENTIONS

REPORTER : TOMI HINKKANEN – SAN DIEGO

Last week 73 inventors from around the world  – including Finland – gathered at the annual Response Expo trade fair held at the Bayfront Hilton in San Diego to present their products to the marketing people. They hoped to get their innovations to the consumer market. Only one out of ten ideas succeeds.

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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office receives over half a million patent applications a year. Approximately 300,000 are accepted.

Dephillia McClenon invented the toothbrush holder.

Dephillia McClenon invented the toothbrush holder.

Larry Moad invented the T-Bone Luggage Handle Extension – a suitcase handle extender.

-Many of the handles for carry-on luggage are short enough to cause lower back pain. Also, you have to turn your wrist around, so that your wrist is facing forward, which is not an ergonomic position. It can create muscle fatigue, carpal tunnel, arthritis, etc.

Inventer Larry Moad and his Larry Moad and his T-Bone Luggage Handle Extension

Inventor Larry Moad and his Larry Moad and his T-Bone Luggage Handle Extension

With his handle the bag is pulled like a garden hose. The idea came to him at an airport cafe.

-I was between flights. I had lower back pain, because I had walked this long concourse with my bag. I was in a café and watching all the people walk by. One guy who stood as tall as I, had a bag similar to mine with wheels. He was carrying it under his arm like a briefcase. I thought he is having the same problem as I. They just don’t make those handles long enough, I thought. Then I looked over to the cash line. There was an older woman who was waiting for her sandwich. Her handle was extended, but she was rubbing her forearm like she has discomfort from pulling her bag, the inventor recalls.

There and then Larry outlined the first draft of his invention on a napkin, then chopped it into pieces and put the cutting in two trash cans –  just in case.

-I got home, went to the closet, took out a wire hanger, pliers, tin foil, McGuyvered up my first T-Bone. I still have it.

Then the real work began. Over time he designed and finessed the handle, applied for a U.S. patent and hired an engineer to do a three-dimensional CAD drawing of it. That was used to make the mold and out of the mold the actual handles were produced at a workshop in Mission Viejo, California. The process took eight long years and tens of thousands of dollars.

-I have 950 T-Bones in the garage ready to go. Last year I sold 80 and this year 30 handles at a price of $16.95 a piece, Larry says.

He rented a table at the fair with $300 in hopes of finding a niche on the handle. He got lots of media publicity – like an appearance of the local Fox affiliate morning show.

Telebrands founder and CEO AJ Khubami invented the slogan " " as seen on TV."

Telebrands founder and CEO A.J. Khubami invented the slogan ” As seen on TV.”

Over the last 30 years Telebrands has sold hundreds of millions worth of products in a hundred countries around the world. They are impulse purchases, goods which the consumer does not even know they needed, such as the collapsing garden hoses and a three-legged walking canes. At the end of each Telebrands commercial the consumer is asked to call a phone number or to order the item online. This selling method is called direct response advertising.

A.J. Khubani founded Telebrands right after college in 1983. The company finds innovative products, manufactures, markets and distributes them in 100 countries world wide. Some of the recent Telebrands successes include the Trusty Cane and the Pocket Hose.

-People who have an invention can submit to . We have a staff of people who go through all the ideas, A.J. Khubani tells.

He is a dark-haired man with an air of a high-powered CEO.

-If we like anything, we offer them a license agreement. It’s like a book deal for an author. The inventor is like the author and we are the publisher. We never ask the inventor any money at all. We invest all the money. If the product is successful, we pay them a royalty. A.J. explains.

Only a few of the ideas will sell.

– I would say that 10 per cent of them have a chance, AJ knows.

Mercury Media CEO Dan Danielson examines Larry Moad's T-Bone Luggage Extension Handle.

Mercury Media CEO Dan Danielson examines Larry Moad’s T-Bone Luggage Extension Handle.

At any given time one can see 30 to 40 marketing company Mercury Media’s infomercials play on TV channels across America. The company is based in Santa Monica, CA with offices in Philadelphia, Chicago, New York and Boston

-We do media placement with direct response commercials and infomercials on TV. We get a lot of inventors knocking on our door – we probably talk to an inventor once a week, Mercury Media CEO Dan Danielson says.

His company builds an advertising campaign around the product.

-Some inventors have money, some don’t. So, we help them either to find money or with the resources we have, use their money wisely, create an infomercial, figure out what TV station to put it on, work with the telemarketers, credit card processing, creating a website and all the digital marketing that goes on as well.

Danielson’s main job is to decide whether an invention has commercial potential.

-That’s the biggest decision we have to make. It’s a very expensive business to get into. So, if it’s not a product that is suited for TV, we tell them to go do print, radio, internet, multi-level marketing. We direct them to another channel of marketing, if it doesn’t meet the basic criteria of TV.

In order to meet the demands of TV, the product must answer “yes” to the following questions:

-Does the product appeal to a mass audience?

-Does it have a good enough cost –selling margin?

-Has there been success in that genre?

If a product retails for $30 or less, Danielson will sell it with a 1-2 minute TV commercial. If  it’s more expensive than that, a half an hour infomercial is required. A commercial costs $100,000 and an infomercial $200,000 to make.

 

The Multi-Function Glove is for people, such as open market vendors, who want to be able to write down anything quickly. It combines a glove, a pen and a notepad.

The Multi-Function Glove is for people, such as open market vendors, who want to be able to write down anything quickly. It combines a glove, a pen and a notepad.

Director Jessica Delich from the United Inventors Association advises inventors to do their homework before investing their life savings to the invention.

– Make a Google Patents search to find out if someone else has already come up with the same product. Patent the invention. Do not fall in love with your idea, but ask people what would you change to make it even better. And do not ask for it from your mother, who thinks that everything you touch is as good as sliced ​​bread.

-A good invention has to solve a problem that a lot of people have – a common problem. So, that when you are running media on it, people relate to it immediately.

Inventors should check the United Inventors Association website www.uiausa.org for useful tips.

The Fly Swoop - captures flies without killing them. Once you vae caught them, you can release them back to the great outdoors.

The Fly Swoop – captures flies without killing them. Once you have caught them, you can release them back to the great outdoors.

And now to those other  inventions.

Raymond Thomas’ Trunk Savior enables you to hang grocery bags neatly in your car trunk.

Raymond Thomas’ Trunk Savior enables you to hang grocery bags neatly in your car trunk.

Raymond Thomas from New Jersey was trying to sell his invention, the Trunk Savior – a rack to hang your shopping bags in the car trunk. The idea came to him from his own life.

-My wife and I do fresh juicing – vegetables, fruits. They come in a lot of shopping bags. I have a sedan. When we put it in the trunk, by the time we get home, the potatoes and watermelons are all over the place, so you have to dive in the trunk to get them, Raymond explains.

The Trunk Savior installs in the ceiling of your trunk. The hooks bend behind as not to obstruct the trunk space.

Kathryne Walker's ComfyTape helps women with high heels.

Kathryne Walker’s ComfyTape helps women with high heels.

Kathryne Walker invented ComfyTape – an adhesive plastic strip that gets rid of the rubbing shoe pain.

-With my product you can wear your shoes and be comfortable all day. Bandaid is our worst competitor but it only works on the friction part and doesn’t take away the pain. Comfytape is clear and reusable – you get 4-8 uses out of it. It also works on different parts of the foot, Kathryne tells.

Hanger Station promises to keep your clothes on the door and off the floor.

-It’s for or wet, just ironed clothes, or when you are staging an outfit or packing or don’t have a closet. The product is a strip of plastic. Each strip holds 8 articles of clothing. You take off the adhesive tape and stick the strip over your door and you can hang hangers, inventor Mike Owens clarifies.

Wine maker Stephen Sublett from the British Columbia came up with the Ultimate Box Clip. The little plastic clips easily seal and subsequently open any cardboard box.

-One day I was bottling my wine at home and wanted to close the cardboard flaps. I got frustrated tugging the corners in and thought there’s gotta be a better solution. I pondered it for 15 minutes and came up with a simple design.

Christine Charpentier from the bayous of Louisiana became an inventor out of necessity.

-I have a daughter who got poison in her baby milk when she was five months old. She is 35 now. I still have a 160,000 dollar hospital bill left. I’ve been paying it off 100 dollars a month for all these years, Christine reveals.

She invented Microwave Pot Holders – cotton mittens that you can heat your microwave food without burning them. The secret is the material in between the layers, which Christine won’t reveal. She sells them for $20. That gets you a assortment of three pot holders in different sizes.

Andrew Yaros of Solana Beach, CA pitches Trio, his all-in-one toilet paper and personal hygiene wipes system.

Andrew Yaros of Solana Beach, CA pitches Trio, his all-in-one toilet paper and personal hygiene wipes system.

Andrew Yaros’ Trio is a combination of two bathroom fixtures. He is looking to get a retail licensing deal for his brainchild.

-It’s a toilet paper and disposable wipe dispenser. You put it in a regular toilet paper mount, Andrew explains.

However, you can’t just use any old wipes – only three companies make biodegradable wipes that you can flush down the toilet, one of them being the Finnish Suominen Company, whose wipes Yaros uses in his dispenser.

Ryo Masukawa presents CordRite - different size sleeves to organize cords.

Ryo Masukawa presents CordRite – different size sleeves to organize cords.

Ryo Masukawa introduced the CordRite – a sleeve to keep all your electric cords in order.

-I was looking at the mess of my cords. I wanted to make it safer for people so that they don’t trip over cords.

CordRite offers different size sleeves for different size cords. They proved to be useful and easy to install in test use. The product is available at Amazon.

Lunch Sense neatly packs your lunch in a small bag.

Lunch Sense neatly packs your lunch in a small bag.

Many inventors have tinkered with kitchen items. Lunch Sense organizes food items in plastic boxes that fit neatly in a cube-shaped box. Lid Gripper is a tool to open tight lids.

Handle It - provides a quick to install handle to any bottle.

Handle It – provides a quick to install handle to any bottle.

Handle It provides an easy-to-pour handle to any plastic bottle. Calendar Sponge relies on the idea that the sponge is the dirtiest thing in your kitchen and nobody knows when to change it. Experts agree it should be changed every month, so  the way to know when to change it is to write the name of each month to the side of the sponge. Thus a 12-pack covers your full year.

Norman Strohdach and the Cats of Thrones

Norman Strohdach and the Cats of Thrones

Norman Strohdach’s eureka moment was to invent Cats of Thrones – a $75 system to train your can to use a human toilet.

-It teaches a cat how to use a toilet in an average of 3-5 weeks. You start with a full litter box and gradually train the cat in the six step system. In the final stage you only have a seat for the cat – a small platform without sand, you don’t share the seat with the cat. We tested this on 1300 cats and we have 100% success rate, Norman beams.

Antti Leppäkorpi introduced his Stem Maid weed guard. You place it around a newly planted tree to prevent weeds from growing around it.

Antti Leppäkorpi introduced his StemMate weed guard. You place it around a newly planted tree to prevent weeds from growing around it.

Antti Leppäkorpi from Jyväskylä, Finland traveled all the way to San Diego to try to distribute his invention, the StemMate weed guard to the American market.

-StemMate prevents the growth of weeds or grass on the base of the tree. When you plant a tree, you put StemMate around the tree. When the tree grows, it will grow along with it and finally breaks down. It does not kill the tree, Antti says.

The product has been tested in cold and snowy Finnish winters. Antti is selling the StemMate for $20 a piece. You can order yours by writing to: