Public Invention

Mission of Public Invention

The Mission of Public Invention is to “Invent in the public, for the public.”

You may want to click through our Mission Statement using the Plectica Map below.

We invent things that help all people. We empower inventors, technologists, and students to publish, find, and collaborate on invention ideas through direct coaching, team formation, curation of work, publication, co-working and learning events, and, in some cases, material support.

We challenge the notion that inventions should be reserved for patents and profits. Rather, we invite fellow builders of the future to use their skills for humanitarian purpose. We want to make the future better for everyone. To do this we remove, rather than add, legal barriers to the free use of our inventions. All work done with Public Invention is free and open to all under share-alike public licenses.

The Public Inventor of the future is not a lone genius but a person who is part of a community. We empower Public Invention Teams that embrace the interdisciplinary talents that combine to shape the future: inventiveness, design, writing, art, photography, engineering, administration, fundraising, and other skills we cannot predict. All of our work is in service to nurture humanitarian invention.

Public Inventors follow these principles:

  • Share everything equally and immediately. Do not seek patents that imply a monopoly that is the antithesis of sharing.
  • Work in the light. In addition to publishing successful inventions, publish failures. Publish mediocrity. Publish everything. Work in the public for the public.
  • Keep it real. Always be working towards a real invention that reallys helps people. It is better to make something tiny and real than to make something grand and awesome that is not real. A roller skate is better than a toy space fighter.
  • Don’t build weapons. Technology is not neutral. Some things are more easily used for good and harder to pervert than others. Invent things that heal, help, educate, entertain, enlighten, strengthen, and ennoble humanity.
  • Ideas are cheap. Invention requires a flash of insight, an inspiration. But that is only 1% of the work of developing an idea.
  • Seek egalitarian usefulness. All else being equal, inventions which make us more equal are better than inventions that make us less equal.
  • Collaborate whenever possible. Even if it slows you down, try to involve others whenever you can.
  • Honor and value every contribution. Some inventions require specialized math; all inventions require general communications and the most specialized and the most general skills are all needed.

Who we are in 2019

Robert L. Read is the head coach and founder of Public Invention, and devotes most of his time to it. Other participants include Joshua L. Hannon, Evan Bartilson, Morgan Chen, Keeshan Patel, and Neil Martis. We plan to incorporate in 2019, and are actively seeking additional volunteers, and, above all, public inventors.

Initial Board members in 2019 are Stephanie Liu, Adam Riggs, Lea Shanley, PhD, Nina Bianchi, Martin Smith, PhD, Keeshan Patel, John K. Gibbons, Kaitlin Devine, and Robert L. Read.

Our projects

We have defined 48 public invention projects:

You might like to read our invitation about these projects

You may want to review our projects via our spreadsheet

Accomplishments So Far

  • On the weekend of Dec. 1st, we hosted the first ever Public Mathathon to address serious open math problem communally. Although participation was low the results were stunning, including 2 presumably publishable results.
  • We have produced 26 open-source repos of work so far.
  • Our biggest accomplishment has been revitalizing the Tetrobot concept.
  • Published peer-reviewed academic journal article describing simple optimization of a tetrahelix.
  • In conjunction with the Greater Austin Chapter of Engineers Without Borders USA, invented the Armadillo, a portable Petrifilm Incubator:
  • The Gluss Project has demonstrated a very novel unconventional robot.
  • Developed a 3D printable optical linear sensor (with Keeshan Patel.)
  • Published an article on using the Raspberry Pi in Nuts and Volts (with Morgan Chen.)
  • The Gluss Pusher project is developing an inexpensive prototype linear actuator for building large, highly scalable robots.
  • We have published 3D plans for a legitimiate novel invention: The Turret Joint which is essential to the construciton of Gluss robots (this was invented by Song, Kwon, and Kim.)
  • We’ve created and published CoilChoice, and interactive tool for desiging electromagnetic coils.
  • This project later took 4th place on the Women in Technology Institute (WITI) Virtual Hackathon.
  • A team formed at the Austin Hack for Change Civic Hackathon won “Most Hacked Forward” superlative with ATX Preemie Warmer.
  • An educational double pendulum simulation has been created, as part of an unsolicited proposal to Montshire Science Museum for a physical exhibit. If any knows of a better double-pendulum simulation, please let me know.

How to Contribute

We welcome your participation. You are welcome to email me However, as a public project, it is even better for you to comment publicly. You may wish to join our google group: You can do this by opening an (“issue”)[] here at GitHub. If you want to add to or improve one of the existing documents, you can do this with a “pull request”.

You may wish to subscribe to our YouTube Channel. Since we are bound neither by the need to keep something secret due to patent restrictions imposed by Universities, nor by the formality of Academic publishing, nor by the need to maintain trade secrets, we publish informally a lot at YouTube.

At the momement, we have a desperate need for someone who can sketch (like with a pencil) to do some simple art for our most active project, The Gluss Project.

I am a computer scientist. I greatly admire artists but don’t pretend that I can create art. We will always have a need for artists, writers, and educators.

We will also need chemists, welders, mechanical engineers, 3D modellers, software engineers, physicists, biologists, mycologists—we exclude no field of endeavor.

In summary, you can contribute by:

  • Offering to improve our art or wrting or videos,
  • Suggesting a new project,
  • Working on a story,
  • Offering to lead a project,
  • Teaching us something new, or
  • Even suggesting non-PubInv proejcts that we should contribute to.

If you are not familiar with GitHub or git, please email me to give you assistance.

A Warning

Some of the projects proposed here involve dangerous chemicals, powerful forces, fire, explosive gases, and biological hazards.

Humanity an not advance without experiementation that involves some risk. The important thing is to remain safe at all times and not to proceed with an experiment until you have proper safety equipment and training. In particular, although we encourage young people to participate in Public Invention, they should not participate without adult supervision.

We will attempt to discuss safety precautions within each project. However, because this is a distributed project and each participant may be creating their own experiments and machines, it will not be possible for us to provide safety guidance in all cases. Please proceed carefully at your own risk.

Contributors and Public Inventors

04/16/2019 Avinash Baskaran agreed to work on the Project #48: Gluss Controller project, part of Project #16: Tetrobots

04/15/2019 David Jeschke contributed Project #47: Math-tablet, which is fairly well-developed in terms of code.

03/14/2019 Annalee Flower Horne contributed some ideas to Project #40: Oil Painting Wheel for Very Thin Lines.

02/15/2019 Adam Riggs, Martin Smith, Keeshan Patel, Kaitlin Devine, Nina Bianchi, Lea Shanley, John Gibbons, Stephanie Liu, and Marc Jones became the first official board member of Public Invention, along with President Robert L. Read

02/01/2019 Robert Gatliff begins contribution work on the Platonic solides to Project #45: Segmented Helices

01/01/2019 Mark Frazier contributes the basic idea of Project #44: Social Tetrahedrons.

12/01/2018 David Jeschke, Nathan Gilbert and other contribute the first every Public Invention Mathathon.

08/01/2018 Neil Martis assisted in the creation and programming of the geotagtext project, which grew out of Project #1: “Little Free Library” mobile app

07/01/2018 Keeshan Patel did all the construction and date collection and half the writing of Optical Linear Sensor.

01/01/2018 Joshua Hannan signifiantly contributed to the Gluss Controller Project, including some Raspberry Pi python code which was used at SXSW Create.

10/01/2017 Evan Bartilson and Josha Hannah design the 3D printing needed to make the gluss controller in the Gluss Controller Project.

This is project is a part of Public Invention (PubInv), a nascent organization that needs your energy and talent. Contact Us.

All materials produced by PubInv are free and open-source, and licensed either with the GPL (for code) or the Creative Commons Share Alike v 4.0 licenese (for text and designs.)

Creative Commons License
This file and all PubInv materials by Robert L. Read by default is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.