Invention by rumour

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Invention by rumour has been used productively many times (although it's rarely admitted) and relies on the well known phenomena of 'corporate innovation paranoia'.

The first documented incidence of this was the 'WowMan', a portable 3D holographic projector which was invented by Sony Consumer Electronics in 2025 after two of their Tokyo based research scientists had overheard a conversation in a busy commuter train between two men who they had assumed (later proved to be false) were from Panasonic, a large, rival electronics company at the time. Convinced that their competitors were on the verge of a breakthrough for such a device, they persuaded their superiors to drop all research investment into personal dog-walking robots and divert the funds into 3D holographic projection development.

News of this 'top secret' research almost immediately leaked out to another one of Sony's major rivals; Hitachi, who subsequently diverted huge budgets into the field, thereby ratifying Sony's initial decision and driving them to increase their own investment.

After 4 years and 3 more strategically planted rumours, Sony was first to patent the technology and make a portable device available to consumers. The launch caught Panasonic completely by surprise. They had, of course, heard the rumours but had dismissed the possibility out of hand. To this day, it has never been revealed who was responsible for planting the original rumour.

However, many years later, Milus Blondel successfully used the invention by rumour method to stimulate the discovery of Decoupled Momentum which eventually became the primary power source for all portable devices and finally put paid to the battery manufacturers and their smug 'you must recycle our products, but don't ask us how' attitude.