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Invention and innovation: An introduction
Invention and innovation: An introduction

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11.5.1 Adaptation

Adaptation is where a solution to a problem in one field is found by adapting an existing solution or a technical principle from another. For example Karl Dahlman adapted the hovercraft principle embodied in land and sea vehicles for use in the first hover lawn mower, the Flymo, in 1963 (Figure 43). In 2001 the car manufacturer Renault introduced the first mass-produced keyless vehicle (Figure 44). It had adapted smart card technology used in credit cards for use in vehicle security. The first generation version had lock and unlock buttons and was inserted into a slot in the dashboard to authorise starting the engine. For the second generation of these cards, introduced in 2003, the vehicle used proximity sensors to detect the presence of the card on the owner's person and unlocked the car once the user touched the door handle. When inside the car proximity sensors meant the driver only needed to press the starter button to start the engine.

Figure 43
Figure 43 Karl Dahlman pictured with his invention, the Flymo, which made use of the hover principle, 1963 (Source: Flymo Ltd)
Figure 44
Figure 44 Renault's hands-free key card – an example of a solution adapted from another field (Source: Renault (UK) Limited)