What is this bizarre Indian "health gadget" from 1950s Bombay?


30 Responses to “What is this bizarre Indian "health gadget" from 1950s Bombay?”

  1. Dom Fletcher says:

    looks like a placebometer to me…

  2. welcomeabored says:

    Aaaaaiiiiiigggggh…I’m still trying to scrub this one out of my imagination from last week!  You’re welcome.


    • Artor says:

      I used to do that with a paperclip when I was a greasy teenager. It’s amazing to see the sebum oozing out of your skin like a crop of earthworms. It’s pretty gross, but you feel alot cleaner once your pores are empty again. There’s something creepily satisfying about squeezing zits.

      • welcomeabored says:

        I watched several of these in a row; it was fascinating, like watching a snake charming performance.  I simply had no idea that blackheads could get that large on a human being, or have so much sebum packed in behind them.  My skin tends to be dry, always has been.  After about an hour of those videos, I walked quickly to the bathroom and just stared at my face, fingers searching every inch, ‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall… tell me I’m the most zit-free of all?!’  As I said, ‘Aaaaaiiiiiigh’.

        I go to see a gal every three or four months for a facial.  She told me she got into that profession because she loooooves to clean out clogged pores.  I’ve since found new respect for her skill set.

    • t3kna2007 says:

      “Another classical case of .. zit-popping.”  +1 for plain speaking in a medical context.

    • Sabocat says:

      I hate you so much.

  3. Dan says:

    that looks similar to, but possibly less plasma-awesome, this crazy thing my friends own:  http://apleasingfiveness.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/heal-all-ails-with-electric-glowinator-yes-we-can/

  4. knoxblox says:


    I personally think it would be freaky cool to see a baby with a glowing cranium.

  5. oasisob1 says:

    Trans-sinusl ultrasound. No, that’s not it. It appears to shine light inside the sinuses so doctor can check it out and make a diagnosis.

  6. Jemmy says:

    This is a diagnostic, not a therapeutic, instrument. It’s basically two flashlights.

    “Transillumination” is the technique of shining a light directly through an organ or space to see how opaque it is. As illustrated in the picture of the woman above, transilluminating the frontal sinuses, located behind your eyebrows, will tell you if one of them is plugged up with mucus or pus (sorry), and help diagnose a sinus infection. You can try it yourself with a penlight in a dark room with a mirror.

    A hydrocele is a fluid collection in the scrotum; transillumination tells you it’s actually just benign fluid and not a solid tumor. Similarly it helps distinguish between fluid-filled breast cysts and solid breast tumors.

    • OldBrownSquirrel says:

       This.  I’ve had a doctor use an otoscope on my maxillary sinuses for this purpose.  Hey, it was handy.

    • Lilah says:

       Hit the nail on the head. The pictures make it pretty clear. Though it’s interesting that they make the poor lady put the whole thing in her mouth to transilluminate the maxillary sinuses. We are taught to place the light outside toward the sinus and then look in the mouth for the light, not the other way round.

  7. Bozobub Demon Lord of Clowns says:

    Transilluminators still exist.  They are/were made (in this case) to shine light through normally-opaque body tissue, to show the underlying structures.  Simple Google search FTW, folks.

  8. DreamboatSkanky says:

    The Esler was industry standard for transilluminating your twin.  What they don’t tell you is, do not use on a triplet.  I’m gonna miss that guy.

  9. michela ashlyn says:

    I think perhaps it is not a bizarre health gadget, but a slightly more convenient diagnostic tool… In med school, you are taught how to illuminate the sinuses by shining a penlight under the orbital walls of the eyes, in the mouth, cheeks, etc.  This device seems to try to make that easier so you can directly compare size/illumination of multiple areas simultaneously.  You can also check pupillary reaction (though there is a greater need to illuminate one pupil at a time rather than both simultaneously- perhaps not the case in medicine when this was made) and can likely aid in estimating the depth of the anterior chambers of the eye.  It seems like it is a glorified double penlight! 

  10. Jorpho says:

    I like how http://boingboing.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/fredphelps.png is currently coming up underneath the story, as if to say, “If you look like this, you may need transillumination!”  (Or “may have already had transillumination!”, perhaps.)

  11. tomrigid says:


  12. PhosPhorious says:

    Well. . . it’s a TWIN Transilluminator.  So, whatever it does. . .  it’s doing it twice.

  13. kmoser says:

    Sounds like an Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator.

  14. Antinous / Moderator says:

    It looks like an electric “shocker”, only with one in the pink instead of two.

  15. It would appear, in my professional opinion, to be two lights on a stick…

  16. pjcamp says:

    High tech booger lighter upper.

  17. Peter Hoh says:

    Autocorrect error: it was made of steel and bakelite, not steel and backlit. 

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