An invention goes beyond the known. It may take many forms – object; product; machine; device etc. It may also be realised as a method; composition; process etc. The key feature of an invention is its novelty, characterised generally in terms such as – new; unique; original; never been designed or made before etc. An invention may be patentable, that is, protected in law. A patent requires an invention to be non-obvious and workable.

An invention is recognised as the product of some unique intuition or creativity, as distinguished from more ordinary skill or craftsmanship. Going beyond the known, its knowledge cannot be codified to make its practice replicable, although the latter is supported by the inventor’s experience, their reflections, communication with other inventors and familiarity with relevant patents etc.

Inventors may be engineers; architects; designers; scientists; artists etc. Famous inventions and their inventors (in brackets) include the: steam engine (James Watt); computer {Charles Babbage); light bulb (Thomas Eddison); World-wide Web (Tim Berners-Lee) etc.


The process of invention typically starts from a novel idea or concept. It is then developed by trial and error or generate and test practice, involving drawing; writing; making models etc. Inventing is often a collaborative practice, as well as a creative one. The idea of an invention needs ultimately to be realised as a working device; prototype; simulation etc. Inventing can be contrasted to innovating, which implies replication to meet some specified social need.

HCI Frameworks