What if a car windshield could blink?

WindshieldIn 1902 Alabama tourist Mary Anderson watched her New York streetcar driver struggling to see through his snow-covered windshield and wondered, Why doesn’t someone create a device to remove the snow? (The “someone,” of course, became Mary, designer of the first windshield wiper.) Sixty years later, Bob Kearns brought the windshield wiper into the modern era by posing a new question of his own. Kearns was dissatisfied with wipers that moved at one speed whether it was pouring or drizzling outside; he inquired, Why can’t a wiper work more like my eyelid, blinking as much (or little) as needed? Kearns worked on his “intermittent wiper” idea in his basement, eventually coming up with an elegantly simple three-component electronic sensing and timing device. (The sad story of how the Big Three car companies infringed on his patent is told in the 2008 film Flash of Genius.)

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About the Author

Innovation expert and questionologist Warren Berger has studied hundreds of the world’s foremost innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative thinkers to learn how they ask questions, generate original ideas, and solve problems. He is the author or co-author of eight books, including THE BOOK OF BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead, the bestseller A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, and the internationally acclaimed GLIMMER, named one of Businessweek’s Best Innovation and Design Books of the Year. His writing appears regularly in Psychology Today, Fast CompanyHarvard Business Review, and The New York Times. He lives in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @GlimmerGuy and subscribe to his blog posts.

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