Similarities between a Model-T Ford and COVID-19

By Chris Tanner | Inventors

Apr 09

One’s ability to defend against an adversarial threat, is dependent upon one knowing the whereabouts of the threat. Beating the COVID-19 pandemic is dependent upon our knowing 3 things:

  1. Who has it?
  2. Who doesn’t have?
  3. Who had it, but since recovered from it?  

The entire world realizes that we desperately need to improve our method of testing for COVID-19. Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction machines (RT-PCR) are complicated, difficult to use and impractical for ongoing, widespread testing of large populations.

Right now, nobody cares about your professional credentials, where or even “if” you went to school or whether or not you have an applicable degree. If you can improve COVID testing, “you’re hired”.

In the case of RT-PCR machines for use as COVID-testing, there is certainly much room for improvement. Meaningful innovations in this area would likely be fast-tracked for widespread implementation. The graphic accompanying this blog-post provides some initial attack-points.

Even if one does not succeed in building a practical alternative to current state-of-the-art technologies, there is sure to be some measure of satisfaction to be gleaned from any effort to defeat this awful pandemic. If nothing else, it may provide a tension/anxiety reduction-mechanism


Yes, some RT-PCR machines exist, but their user-interface and operability are grossly inadequate for a pandemic. Remember, the Model T certainly disrupted the horse and buggy industry, but it didn’t achieve mainstream acceptance until someone invented an electric starter.

During its first 16 years in operation, the dangerous hand-crank starter would whip back and clobber the operator. The early model T’s were responsible for untold numbers of broken arms, shattered jaws, shoulder separations, concussions and deaths. The original version was not user-friendly, it was user-hostile.

Right now, the RT-PCR machines are kind of like that!  Its early stage, user-interface was mainly an afterthought. The assumption was that anyone using an RT-PCR machine had a PhD and all-day to run one test. These machines were not designed for pandemics. They were not even intended to be used by a typical lab-tech, let alone the HR department in a factory.

Come on America! You can do it! It’s time to put on our “think’n caps” and design a better mouse trap.

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About the Author

Chris Tanner is a registered patent and trademark attorney, and former U.S. patent examiner. Chris has worked with hundreds of inventors and small companies, and has been involved in the prosecution of more than 1500 patent applications. Contact Chris at