How the Display Sheet Came To Be
Or, A Primer Of The Versatile Display Sheet
I had always wanted to bring an invention to market and was finally doing it. Due to circumstances beyond my control, namely being a slow starter, I had waited until my mid-fifties to begin. Six months of time had quickly passed, consumed by my great devotion which was a unique type of barbecue grill. I hired an outside designer to help me do the 3D model of the device and we were really making progress. It had what I thought was a patentable feature and a provisional patent application was filed. I was working on the prototype and then came that fateful day when I needed to find a nut and bolt in my basement. Now I had the standard homeowner’s coffee can but it was always a pain to find anything in there. I would poke around the top of the can looking in hopes that I would find what I need. A process, I suspect, has never rewarded a husband in the history of home ownership. Upon realization that time is a wastin, I decided to begin the process of dread I try to avoid. This involves dumping the can out, rooting around till I find what I need and then picking up the hardware spread all over the deck one by one. Whoa! Today I am in luck, there is an empty cardboard sleeve I can pour the can into and search that way. And, then to return the hardware to the can, I can position a corner of the cardboard sleeve and pour the items resulting in about 85% of the hardware reaching the inside of the can. Wow, this is great, I get to pick up only 15% of the can’s hardware that hit the deck and bounced all over the place. Feeling smug in my problem solving abilities, I proceeded to do just that.
As I was doing my duty, I realized there has to be a better way. I thought, hey!, I’ll design a hardware box that folds open in such a way that it more than doubles in volume. I pictured the box open with one half having all the hardware in it and the other larger half empty so you can use it to sort through the hardware. This is going to be great! Firing up my 3D software, I proceeded to design gizmag product of the year. Well, not quite, looking at the 3D model, it looked like some of the hardware had a good chance of getting stuck right near the hinge where you wouldn’t want it to get stuck, not if you wanted to open the box. Thinking that this isn’t good and that I just wasted another hour driving down another dead end that seems to be my specialty, I thought a little more about it as time allowed.
Regrouping, I pictured my award winning box to be made in two pieces of some type of metal or wood and hinged to open and close. Suppose, I thought, I didn’t really need both pieces to be made of metal, maybe one could be flexible. Maybe I could make it out of a flexible piece of plastic, or, going back to metal again, build it so it is flexible like the metal grate that shop owners close every night so their stuff doesn’t get stolen. But that would be an expensive box and as any designer knows, cheap is good as long as it works. Having been accused of short arms and long pockets in the past, I continued my thought process concentrating on the cheap theme, unfairly described by the narrow minded as my forte. Suddenly, my mind went blank, the room dark and, looking back, I realized my subconscious had melded with my conscious and my path in the universe toward the Eureka micro-second became crystal clear.
Well, that last part didn’t actually happen but it did pop into my head that the flexible part of the box could be made out of fabric or plastic sheet. As soon as I thought that, I knew it would work. The sorting area of my box could be made as large as wanted without much additional cost if made of fabric or plastic sheet. In no time at all, I had emptied the coffee can and Gorilla taped a plastic sheet inside the mouth of the can. The sheet went around about 70% of the circumference of the opening of the can allowing an easy pour from the can of it’s contents without spilling. Dumping the hardware from the can onto the plastic sheet worked well and sliding the content’s back into the can using the sheet was satisfying having used my prior nonsense solutions. After 3 or 4 cycles of dumping out and sliding back in, I knew I had something. The plastic sheet would in time be named by me the Display Sheet.
Shown in the first two images on the right is the actual coffee can that was present during the momentous occasion. The top image shows the can with the Display Sheet inside ready for use and the second image shows the Display Sheet activated with hardware on top. However, this Display can is the more advanced version as the original plastic sheet has been replaced by an exotic silky yellow fabric that was lying around. The Display Sheet in this version is huge and doesn’t confirm to the secret formula later developed defining Display Sheet size derived from the circumference of the opening.
Once the concept of the Display Sheet was understood, it wasn’t hard to come up with some possible products that could use it as I have outlined below.
The patent covers a use of the Display Sheet with a paper bag such as you would find in a fast food hamburger joint. The idea is that instead of ripping the bag when you sit down at a table, you can activate the Display Sheet that is conveniently tucked into the bag. If you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t even see it and the additional cost to add the Display Sheet is minimal.
As you can see in the video at the right, the Display Sheet would keep your food from contacting the tabletop. The scissors in the video represent french fries so you are going to have to use your imagination a bit. James Cameron doesn’t have anything to worry about with my special effects – for now. I should have shown the bag vertically as this is how it would be held with food in the bottom. Any items in the bag shouldn’t prevent the user from reaching into the vertical bag along the side and pulling out the Display Sheet for use.
Below the videos, I have added a couple of screen shots from the patent illustrating how the Display Sheet works with the bag. Click on the images if you want a larger view.
I contacted about a dozen paper bag manufacturers and couldn’t get them interested. I tried to contact Burger King and McDonalds directly but they seemed to make a point of not wanting to speak to outside inventors. A recurring theme I will become very familiar with. It seems most large companies don’t want to become involved in any type of litigation in the event they are working on an idea that just so happens to have a similar idea be submitted from an outside inventor. What are the chances of that happening, you say? A perfect question an attorney would be asking in court of the defendant manufacturing company. And, plus, the manufacturing company doesn’t want to look like the bad guy in the event they do wind up in court. So, most companies decide to just turn the facet off in regards to accepting outside inventions so they sleep better at night. I can’t really blame them but this isn’t going to stop me from trying to get my invention profitable. In other words, the hunt goes on.
Based on a suggestion from a bystander at the Venture Cafe in Cambridge, MA, I altered my concept of the future product so it could be used with a drawstring bag instead of a rigid container like my original coffee can prototype. The argument went that a bag conformed to the space provided and compressed to practically nothing when empty plus it was inexpensive to manufacture. Sounds good to me.
As a brief sidebar to this exciting tale, in the event you have developed a powerful thirst doing all this inventing and/or reading, the Venture Cafe will donate two free alcoholic libations to the cause. You get this and a room full of entrepreneurial types ready to give their opinion, drinking for fun and networking. I went three times and thought each trip was worthwhile plus it helped my invention along.
One trip to the Venture Cafe resulted in meeting a different guy that convinced me that Lego was the company to sell a variation on the Display Sheet using a play sheet. The play sheet was an area that a kid could play on with their toys all spread out. It was really big and connected to a drawstring bag, The idea was that a kid could pour out all their Legos onto the play sheet and then when it was time to clean up the overworked mother could easily return the Legos to the bag. See informative video to the right that my teen-age daughter describes as sketchy.
Another sketchy video to the right shows a variation of the original idea, a rigid container with a Display Sheet. This video and the one above was sent to Lego to see if they were interested in the idea but their response was “that we are not looking for packaging solutions at this time”. Unbelievable, eh? Of course, in my unbiased opinion, the Display Sheet is a natural fit for Legos or any other toys. You can lead a horse to water and all that. Maybe they will come to their senses someday. If you are reading this Lego, all is forgiven, please come home.
Show to the right is another couple of applications using a Display Sheet I prototyped. One picture shows the box closed and the other the same box open. The Display Sheet works best when there is a large number of small items that are different since the Display Sheet spreads them out so you can make a selection. I don’t think the Jolly Roger product would be that great for a Display Sheet as there are not too many items in the box but on the other hand, it does present to the user the contents of the box easily.
The Good & Plenty box has a lot of items but only two types so again, maybe this is not a great application but again, on the other hand, it does present to the eater the contents of the box and gives them the option of eating only the white candy first.
If I am able to sell the Display Sheet to the food industry, I picture the Display Sheet being used with party-size bags or containers. The Display Sheet would be in the bag, the user would open the bag and pour the contents on top of the Display sheet which would act as a bowl. The bag could just sit there on a table similar to the way the boxes are in the photos. If the bag is not finished at the end of the party, whatever is left over can easily be slide back into the bag using the Display Sheet. I think this would be a useful feature and selling point to buy a product but that’s just me.
Getting back to my roots, shown on the right is a Hardware Display Bag that I had manufactured in Fall River, MA. Below that is a video starring yours truly demonstrating the bag. The video has over 3,000 hits causing me to realize what a good actor I am.
As another sidebar, this bag is being sold on E-Bay as a CatchAll Bag, a Cosmetic Bag and Golf Bag. I have created active links for your viewing pleasure if interested. Not surprisingly, the Cosmetic Bag has the most interest. I never fully comprehended before starting this process that women do all the buying and men are frugal shoppers for the most part except when it comes to toys such as cars and boats. Me, I never buy anything not a necessity unless under extreme social pressure.
Don’t tell anyone but all of the bags listed above are the same bag but just presented for different uses. I use my Display Golf Bag (I keep forgetting to say Display but it is important for branding I have heard) to this day keeping my golfballs, tees, ball markers, divot repair tool and some other stuff organized so I can find things. It really works well for me. Pre-Display, I could never find my ball markers and got tired of digging through the bag to find them so I just did without. Now I can easily find all my stuff. However, I do miss the interesting comments when my competitor’s putt would hit my improvised ball marker, a tee, and get thrown off course missing the hole.
Also on E-Bay are bags with the same design but made with a different material. Here’s the Red Velvet Golf Bag, the Blue Velvet Jewelry Bag, the Burgundy Velvet Jewelry Bag, the Purple Nylon Cosmetic Bag, and finally the Burgandy Velvet Game Bag for Dice and Game Pieces. Instead of listing all the uses of a Display Bag, please view the photo to the right that says there are hundreds of applications.
My plan now is to license the Display Sheet to different companies that will each sell products using the Display Sheet geared toward different applications. I have applied for a patent through the Patent Cooperative Treaty [PCT] meaning if a company wants to sell products using a Display Sheet, they will have a monopoly in most countries in the world. Listed below is the Display Sheet products that I would like to license with the most promising ones first. Now, in case you haven’t figured it out, one purpose of this long disclosure is to make companies and people aware of the Display Sheet and start them thinking of how and where it can be used. In other words, as I said above, once you are aware of what a Display Sheet is, it is not hard to think up various applications where it can be used. So, if I can get enough people thinking about this, the chances of a good selling product being developed increases I hope.
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Presented below, and don’t forget the ones above, are the widely varying number of products that could benefit by a Display Sheet. This list is by no means inclusive and we welcome other ideas for the use of the Display Sheet.
Display Hardware Drawstring Bag: Big surprise that this one tops the list. I do a lot of work around my house (I can hear my wife snickering now) and this is one item I would not want to do without when a fastener is needed. That is my Hardware Bag to the right. Now the bag above that is for sale on E-Bay was designed by me, a first, which I am also calling a hardware bag and I had 1200 manufactured in the USA. I designed the most inexpensive and simplest bag I could as the costs to make were really high. Or, another way to look at it, is that similar bags (without a Display Sheet) on the market are foreign made so even with a fancy design, more attractive materials, liners, etc. they still kick the stuffing out of my product made in the USA based on price alone. What I am trying to say is that this bag could be a lot nicer and compete better, maybe even be made in the USA, if people more knowledgeable than me were involved.
I was looking around the web for an example bag of what I thought would be a good design and unbelievably, I found exactly what I was looking for. See photo of the three bags to the right. Now the bottom of the bag is made out of a durable material such as ripstop nylon or canvas. It would be great to make the whole bag of this material and then it would be bulletproof but the problem is that rigid materials do not work well with a drawstring. You could replace the drawstring with another type of closure, say a zipper and some would argue that this would be a better product but I like the drawstring. It’s quick to close and once the bag is closed by pulling the drawstring, you have your hand right there on a convenient handle. Now this product fixes the rigid material problem by making the top of the bag out of a thinner material. This will allow the bag to be closed tighter and the hole created by the drawstring will be very small.
Getting back to the great design, there are also D – rings and a snap hook attached to the bag to give the user options as to fasten the bag to something. And if that isn’t enough, there is a handle that could be used to carry the bag in case you didn’t like the drawing string. I think I am jealous.
Rereading this now and looking at my red hardware bag in the photo, I am starting to backslide. My red hardware bag is a great design too. The material is not as think but a production bag made out of the same material would last a long time. Decisions, decisions, which is the best to bring to market I ask rhetorically? I suppose that is what a marketing department is for. I like both bags and wouldn’t mind owning either one.
Display CatchAll Bag: How about selling a bag that could be used for whatever the user decides? This bag could be the same design as the one above, the Display Hardware Bag. Electricians could use it for wire nuts, for example. The idea is that both of the bags would be made out of a rugged material such as a contractor would be looking for.
Display Cosmetic Purse: Display Sheets can work with softside bags but they can also be used with hard sided containers such as the purse shown in the photo. This is a zippered cosmetic bag bought inconspicuously by me at Wal-Mart and altered to include a Display Sheet. As with soft-sided bags, the Display Sheet can be folded up and pushed into the container and past the zipper closure.
Display Zipper Pouch for Men and Women: Shown in the picture and video is a Milwaukee Zipper Pouch to which I have added a Display Sheet. This is a rugged pouch intended to be used by contractors for whatever purpose they have in mind. The pouch could be used for paperwork, pens, small tools, hardware or whatever the user decides. Click on the link to see a video of the Zipper Pouch in action.
Below the video is a clutch bag used by women to carry objects best left a secret to the author. As you can see, it is the same design as a zipper pouch. I have been told upon showing the Display Sheet that the idea would end the desperate search for articles not easily found in the clutch bag on date night. The pouch does not have a Display Sheet installed – yet.
Display Cosmetic Drawstring Bag: As I said before, women do most of the buying, so this is the most popular Display Bag on E-Bay right now. This was also borne out by a survey we did in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, concerning Display Cosmetic Bags. The results from 40 women were that 95% would buy the product if reasonably priced. It seems women have some trouble locating all their makeup products in tiny bags as it was explained to me. I was also told that marketing this as a travel makeup bag would help.
Display Dice Bag: A search on the web told me that a dice bag was used to hold the dice used for playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons or similar. You can see a lot of these bags all over the web for storing large sets of dice so there is a market for them. The dice pieces are not all the same but have different sizes and shapes not just the standard cube die. In other words, something just perfect for use with a Display Sheet.
Another common name for them is a Game Bag that can hold dice but also small game pieces. There are a lot of these also on the web. Shown to the right is an actual dice bag with a photo shopped in Display Sheet to give you the idea.
Display Tote Bag For Women and Men: Now this one is big, at least in terms of numbers sold. How many of these bags for women do you see around as shown in the example photo to the right? A ton. It is described best in the description lifted from the web site I got the image “Today you can spot it doing heavy lifting everywhere from grocery stores to gardens, from beaches to bedroom closets.”. Again, another product purchased in large quantities by women, the designated buyer in most relationships. In addition to the regular use of the tote bag to which a Display Sheet would only improve, I see a Display Tote Bag for the beach to be a big hit. Now you can activate the Display Sheet when there to not only find your stuff but to have a built in workspace for your beach items such as sunglasses, lotion, cell phone, etc. I have not photoshopped in a Display Sheet into this image as I am sure you get the idea by now.
Shown below that is a video showing what is described as a cargo tote for men. As described in the ad for them “provide a versatile storage solution for a wide variety of job site situations: a catch-all bag for raiding the van; a carry-all bag for end of the day cleanup; and a more efficient way to organize the back of the truck.”.
As another application, I can picture a bag like the tool bag in the video being used for camping applications. Throw your hatchet, tent pegs, spare rope, flashlight, hammer, or whatnot into the bag for transport and spread out for the day on top of the Display Sheet upon arrival for easy access. At night, the camping items can be slide back into the bag for overnight storage.
Display Golf Pouch: Behold, the second largest seller on E-Bay. I use mine all the time. It is really handy to find your golf items such as ball markers that always seem to go missing.
Display Toy Bag: Looking at the image to the right, can’t you just see a Display Sheet under all those toys? The Display Sheet could be used to show what is in the bag but it could also be used for the child to play on. See video below the toy bag. This is the same video as was shown earlier on this page. In this video, the play sheet is huge and I think should be scaled down, maybe two to three times the size of a normal Display Sheet might be enough.
Display Stuff Sack: A mainstay of camping trips made to simply stuff anything you want into the bag for transport or storage. I can see a Display Sheet as making this simple product work better. Imagine you are inside your tent and need to search the contents of a regular stuff sack. This means dumping it out inside the tent onto the not always clean floor. It’s always hard to keep dirt from tracking its way into a tent. A Display Stuff Sack would allow your stuff to be dumped on top of the Display Sheet and not the tent floor.
To Sum Up: Presented on this web site (don’t forget to visit the Home page) are many different applications of a Display Sheet. We hope you, a manufacturer decide to use a Display Sheet in either an existing or new product. The Home page focuses on using a Display Sheet in a Tool environment while this page attempts to stimulate thought by manufacturers about using a Display Sheet in future products. If you are interested in a licensing arrangement, please use the contact information below. Thank you for your interest.