In 2016, Pinying launched as a new app that enables Chinese speakers to learn English in an entirely new way. Professor Jonathan Stalling’s creation was added to the Apple App Store, patented by the University of Oklahoma, and presented with a Best Inventor Award from the Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth at OU. This exhibit explores this invention from its ideation to its fabrication and to its commercialization through the University of Oklahoma Innovation Ecosystem.

Image of Chinese characters on wood blocks.


The process of conceptualizing, developing, and sharing new ideas is an essential part of the design process. In the case of Pinying, the inventor was inspired to recreate and update ancient technologies and methods developed over 1,000 years ago in China. The exhibit recreates Stalling’s ideation process by staging the invention as it would have existed 1,000 years ago, 100 years ago, and as it exists today. 


The next section of the exhibit focuses on the material process of invention at OU, revealing the inventor’s efforts at the initial disclosure of the invention, through its patenting process, and on to rapid prototyping and testing in OU’s Innovation Hub and Edge creative labs. 


Finally, the exhibit explores how OU student interns in the ICCEW worked with Professor Stalling to create and test hypotheses for the needs of the target market, ultimately launching the Pinying app in the Apple App Store, as well as founding a new company under the leadership of OU, the Forest Path Studio.


Faculty Curator: Jonathan Stalling

Translators: Li Yuanying, Du Lei, Feng Yali, Zhang Hao & Jonathan Stalling

A special thank you to Steve and Kathy Swatek in recognition of the establishment of the Library Center of Excellence fund to support future innovation at OU Libraries.