One Mannequin, Many Sizes
The i.Dummy, an intellectual-property concept from the Institute of Textiles and Clothing at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, was invented to solve the problem of having multiple-sized mannequins. The unusual robotic mannequin changes shapes and dimensions to serve the clothing industry in design, fitting, alterations and size gradations.
A single i.Dummy flexibly shifts to any shape or dimensions that a designer requires, whether working on gowns, occasional wear or swimwear. It’s adjustable, expandable, contractible and variable to solve the problems of designing and fitting tailored or ready-to-wear clothing.
Traditionally, most mannequins accommodate just one size. This“one-serves-all” innovation can therefore help to save cost and storage space.
Great Ideas enter Global Markets
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) actively promotes Hong Kong as Asia’s global intellectual property (IP) trading hub, with an annual forum and an online marketplace particularly designed for this sector.
The Asia IP Exchange (AsiaIPEX) at www.asiaipex.com is a global online trading platform and database for intellectual property built and managed by the HKTDC. Easy-to-use, AsiaIPEX showcases intellectual properties worldwide in order to link global IP traders and facilitate deals.
Allied with dozens of partners, AsiaIPEX offers 25,000-plus tradable IP listings and has 7,500 members from 120 countries and regions. Among these, it is not difficult to find exciting, innovative and first-of-its-kind products and ideas. The i.Dummy, a robotic mannequin invented by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU); and a spray-on, durable antimicrobial coating developed by the Nano and Advanced Materials Institute Ltd (NAMI) are distinctive examples.
The i.Dummy, invented by the Institute of Textiles and Clothing at the PolyU, is a robotic mannequin that changes shapes and dimensions. It allows fashion designers to use just a single mannequin for most creative efforts, avoiding the expense of mannequins in many sizes.
“Since launch, there has been a number of i.Dummy users in the industry, and we are glad to know that a licensee of this technology now manufactures and markets this product in Hong Kong and overseas, proving its acceptance by industry players,” says Dr Allan Chan, the institute’s associate head.
AsiaIPEX creates a solid platform for companies of all sizes to pursue licensing and commercialising technologies. Potential IP buyers welcome the site’s timely information about available technologies. They can easily check information from different sources and conduct patent searches.
Some AsiaIPEX strategic alliances involve far-flung partners on the Chinese mainland and in Canada, Denmark, Malaysia, the UK and US. Among its Hong Kong partners are R&D centres and university technology-transfer units keen to promote home-grown technologies.
“For IP owners wishing to sell, manufacturers buying technologies or IP service providers, AsiaIPEX definitely supplies a useful resource,” notes Chan who further comments, “Hong Kong thrives as Asia’s global IP trading hub due to its business-friendliness, strategic location and strong legal system including IP protection.”
Meanwhile, another highlight on the portal is a spray-on, durable antimicrobial coating developed by the NAMI in the Hong Kong Science Park. “Silver nanoparticles in this coating have antibacterial functions that decrease bacterial growth, killing 99 per cent of the bacteria on most surfaces within an hour,” says Jenny Yiu, NAMI’s director of public affairs and development.
The technology is well-received by industries such as healthcare and consumer goods, and Yiu gave credit to AsiaIPEX for such promising industry feedback. “Listing on the portal is an effective way to send across our innovation achievement to users and possible licensees in Hong Kong and around the world,” Yiu remarks.
Amid accelerating IP trade worldwide, Hong Kong’s role expands because the Chinese mainland (and Asia overall) form such important growth areas. “It’s easy to understand that the mainland’s emerging middle-class consumers spur demand for IP-related products,” explains Yiu.
“We are proud that Hong Kong’s many professional service providers can offer IP-related services covering alternative dispute resolution services, copyright trading, design services and brand strategy, franchising and licensing, legal services on IP, trademark/patent registration services as well as venture capital and private equity.”
The HKTDC doubles its efforts in promoting Hong Kong as a global IP trading hub by holding the annual Business of Intellectual Property Asia Forum (BIP Asia Forum) in addition to operating the online AsiaIPEX portal. IP experts and traders gather in Hong Kong for the BIP Asia Forum every December. The 2014 event was the biggest yet with an expanded exhibition zone full of technology brands and IP-related companies, representing another advance for IP activities.
Jointly organised by the HKTDC, the Hong Kong SAR Government and the Hong Kong Design Centre, the forum catches the attention of thousands of IP-focused people on topics ranging from case studies to seminars on wearable technology and managing IP in cultural industries.
“IP experts join the forum each year to discuss new business trends and strategies. The event can give us all updated information, and we always encourage students to attend to get inspiration for future innovations,” says Chan of PolyU. “Nowadays, technology changes in a speedy manner. It is important and essential to talk to experts and key players to be up-to-date with new happenings. Being unique and always standing at the front of the line is what innovation means. IP trading can help protect our innovations, and further confirm and endorse our efforts,” cites Yiu of NAMI.
With the joint efforts of AsiaIPEX and the BIP Asia Forum, Hong Kong is able to establish a firm foothold in IP trading and be the region’s hub for providing a comprehensive range of relevant services.