Posted by: Marty Fahncke | July 18, 2007

American Inventor – Review of Inventions (Episode 6)

Near the beginning of this episode, Peter, mentioned there were “four criteria they are looking for as judges”.  Six episodes into the season, it would sure be nice to know what the criteria might be.  I’ve been reading a lot of other blogs about American Inventor, and many people have been at a loss to explain why the judges have made the decisions they have made.  Note to the producers of American Inventor…next season, start the first episode with an explanation of the criteria the judges will be using!

Without further ado, follow is my review of the inventions featured on American Inventor, from a standpoint of their marketability in the DRTV market, which includes Infomercials and Home Shopping.

Invention:  EZT4U
Inventor:  George and Denise Tucker 
Summary:  Tea brewing basket that fits into any automatic coffee maker, retrofitting it to allow it to brew tea in a coffee maker. 
Comments:  Tea is a huge market right now, and this is truly a novel concept.  Since it utilized the heating element of an existing coffee maker, the cost of goods should be fairly low.  One downside I can see is that the number of SKU’s necessary to fit in all the different brands and sizes of coffee makers will be a cost, inventory, and ordering nightmare.  No retailer is going to stock ALL of the model options necessary, and from a DRTV standpoint, the ordering process may be a long one.  I can hear the operator now… “OK sir, please go look at your coffee maker and tell me the brand and model number.” 
Caller:  “Aaaarrrggghhhh!  I turned over the coffee maker to look at the model number and got burned by hot coffee!!!” 

The EZT4U was chosen as the $50,000 Tampa winner.

Invention:  Square Cake Cutter
Inventor:  Bobby Lee Grissett
Summary:  A grid-like cake cutter that allows you to cut a large sheet cake in a matter of seconds, while creating equal portions of what you are cutting. 
Comments:  Not a DRTV product, but it’s a great, simple idea that could have application in several markets, including commercial food service, schools lunch rooms, catering, etc.   The judges passed on this, but I think they blew it.  In the right market, this should be a successful product.  I wish Bobby luck in the future.

Invention:  The Voice Inside
Inventor:  Christopher Khanoyan
Summary:  A portable voice-to-text and text-to-voice device that uses voice recognition software built into a mobile phone/pda (drawing looked like a Sidekick) to facilitate a conversation between a Deaf person, and a hearing person. 
Comments:  I don’t know what it is about Deaf inventors on this show, but I’m SO GLAD to see them!  As the father of a Deaf son, it’s really inspirational to see these Deaf inventors pursuing their dream, and I thank the producers of American Inventor for selecting each of them to highlight.    As far as the invention goes, I think it is a totally doable invention, especially today.  Mobile devices now have full-blown computer operating systems, voice recognition software is becoming more and more accurate, and electronics are getting smaller every day.  The judges did not select this invention as a $50,000 winner, which is not surprising, since it is a niche product.  I do hope Christopher continues to pursue his dream, and finds a way to bring this product to market.  It will change a lot of lives for the better. 

Invention:  Wallbanger
Inventor:  Marcus “Sandy” Wall
Summary:  Invented by a 21-year SWAT police veteran, it blows open a door without a cop having to actually stand in front of the door with a battering ram. 
Comments:  This is a brilliant invention, and probably will save lives.  Certainly not a mass-market product, but one worth pursuing.  This product was selected as a city finalist, but was not a city winner.  However, I’m hoping the exposure from the show will help Sandy find an investor to develop this invention and get it into the hands of the cops who need it. 

The Wrapaway, invented by Joe and Mike Miller was chosen as the Houston $50,000 winner.  I’m surprised at this.  As I posted in my review last week, the idea really isn’t that novel, and many similar devices are out there.  Oh well, it does have potential, and as I said before, this invention could be good in DRTV.

Turned down by the judges:
Square Cake Cutter – Bobby Lee Grissett (See comments above)
Love Test (The song)  – Rose Feller
Smart Potty – Shirley Blount
Electric Fingernail Tool – Kevin Gilg
Automatic Meat cooking device – Bill Guess


  1. I cannot believe that EZT4U was chosen as a $50,000 finalist. I’ve been brewing loose tea in my coffee maker for years – with a simple coffee filter. And when I run out of loose tea, I simply use teabags, without the filter. I certainly wouldn’t purchase something like that when I already have everything I need to brew tea in the coffee maker – on hand. Sheesh.

  2. I agree Lynn my wife likes a weak cup of tea, I like a strong cup and my mother-in-law likes to dunk the bag up and down. Nix on the XT4U
    And that saran wrap dispenser, I got one at Home Depot over 2 years ago.
    A bra to me is not an invention, even if it has alot of strap configurations.
    A fire extinguisher for a tree – don’t need it, I keep water in the basin below.
    Bike Claw – no – got a hook.
    I like the HT Racers remote control paper cars, trucks, planes. That invention has potential.

  3. I would very much like contact with the man who had the device for the deaf community. As a grandmother of two deaf grandsons, this device would make their young lives so much easier. I would like to talk to these people to offer any support and actively work on getting this device marketed for the deaf community. Please help me reach these people in anyway you can.

  4. Kim,

    I’m glad you want to help. I found the contact information for Chris Khanoyan.

    Normally, I wouldn’t publish someone’s personal contact information, but since it is already publicly accessible in the phone book, I supposed it’s ok.

    Here it is:

    Linda Khanoyan
    4804 Chesney Ridge Dr
    Austin, TX 78749-1140
    (512) 300-0246

    Please stay in touch and let us know if you are able to help him, and let Chris know that I would be willing to help any way I can as well!

  5. I believe that cake cutter could have been marketed extensively to many places and sold on ebay.. just think about how many caterer’s and family reunions there are requiring something of that sort… and like the guy said… the military could use it to… I believe that he could also sell it well on ebay.

    Sincerely, Cody Goodman

    Niche Marketing On Crack Software
    Niche Marketing Secrets And Strategies for your web site.

  6. This is in response to there sudden name change. As an artist, I have been writing music under the name “Tea Brain” for several years, have a page on MySpace as well. I see now that it is very important to Trademark your name, because the EZT4U would have not sold this product, but I believe The Tea Brain would have. My Jaw almost left my face when I saw the last episode with there name conversion. I would have been honored had they won, but now I’m wondering if it is already to late to save my name.


  7. “Tea Brain” is now part of the public domain. I do not beleive you can now trademark it but you can contact any Patent and Trademark attorney and they’ll be happy to help you for a fee.

  8. looking for Square Cake Cutter Inventor: Bobby Lee Grissett
    Do you know how i can find one of these or find the guy that makes them, is there a website that i can get from you
    thank you
    leigh boyd

    • Sorry Leigh, it appears the cake cutter product never made it to market. Too bad, it was a good ideal. 😦

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