This nail dispensing hammer is a work of genius

Michael Young's an industrial designer. After over six years of tinkering, he came up with this frigging masterpiece of a prototype: a framing hammer that dispenses nails. If it ever makes it to market, having mashed my digits setting up a nail to be driven into boards an untold number of times, I will be the fist in line to buy this thing. Read the rest

A painful device to punish hat thieves

In 1911, inventor Frank P. Snow invented this "hat guard" to inflict a painful punishment on any creep with the gall to steal a chapeau belonging to another gentleman. From Weird Universe:

A thief could take the hat, but if he tried to put it on, a "guarding prong" would jab into his skull. The prong locked in place and could only be moved if you knew the code to the combination lock.

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Men: Rest your weary head while urinating

In 2002, Eric D. Page was granted US patent #6681419B1 for a "Forehead support apparatus" enabling men to rest their head (the one atop the neck) while standing at a urinal. The device includes a "mounting member," which contrary to what you might think is actually a fitting for attaching it to the wall. It's also suitable for the shower. From the Abstract:

A compressible head support member is attached to and extends from the wall and said mounting member. The head support defines an elastically deformable or resilient forehead support surface which is spaced above the floor and from the wall a distance sufficient for the user to lean his forehead thereagainst and be supported while using the commode or urinal.

(Weird Universe) Read the rest

Watch this excellent 1977 documentary about makers and mad inventors

Directed by Howard Smith, "Gizmo" (1977) is a delightful collection of mid-century newsreels celebrating ingenuity, invention, and the eccentric minds who make their wild ideas real.

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Automated pat-on-the-back machine

The Morale Raiser, invented in 1950, would be the perfect gift for those people in your life who require a steady stream of attaboys.

Devised by a retired army colonel in the UK, the Morale Raiser made its debut at the Festival of Britain's "eccentrics' corner."

(Weird Universe)

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Watch wireless dominoes topple without touching each other

Eser Dominoes are an interesting proof of concept that won a juried award at the 14th Japan Media Arts Festival. Read the rest

Who makes the clips that keep bread bags closed?

How many plastic bread bag clips does Yakima, Washington's Kwik Lok sell annually? "It’s in the billions," says the company's sales coordinator Leigh Anne Whathen. According to Kwik Lok, company founder Floyd Paxton dreamt up the idea in 1954. I wonder if he imagined their other popular use as a makeshift guitar pick. From Atlas Obscura:

As the story goes, while he was on the plane, Paxton was eating a package of complimentary nuts, and he realized he didn’t have a way to close them if he wanted to save some for later. As a solution, he took out a pen knife and hand-carved the first bread clip out of a credit card (in some tellings, it was an expired credit card)...

According to Whathen, Kwik Lok secured a patent on their little innovation in the early days of the company, and to this day, Kwik Lok remains one of the only manufacturers of bread clips in the world. Whathen says that the only other firm she’s aware of is a European competitor called Schutte. Kwik Lok also has the distinction of still being owned by Paxton’s descendants. Floyd’s son, Jerre, ran the company until his death in 2015, and today it is owned by two of Jerre’s daughters. “We’re still going strong,” says Whathen.

"Most of the World’s Bread Clips Are Made by a Single Company" (Atlas Obscura)

(image: DANIELGAMAGE/CC BY-SA 3.0) Read the rest

Shark Tank tonight: Ingenious pop-up shelter invented by Pesco's brother

Under The Weather is a single-person pop-up shelter to sit inside that my big brother Rick came up with a while back. (He was sick of getting soaked at his kids' soccer games and was inspired by a portable toilet he saw by the field.) Under The Weather is designed for spectator sports, fishing, and other outdoor events where it's raining, windy, or cold, but you are either obligated to watch or having so much fun you don't want to leave.

Tonight, Rick and his wife/partner Kelly present the product on Shark Tank! No matter what happens, I can guarantee it will be very entertaining. I'm so proud of them!

And if you want one, don't be fooled by crappy knock-offs. Please buy directly from Rick and Kelly here: Under the Weather

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Self-leveling spoon for people with disabilities

Self-leveling robotic spoon for people with disabilities

Liftware makes two kinds of spoons - one for people with hand tremor, and another for people with limited hand and arm mobility.

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Non-designers design a "superior anti-clogging drain device"

Design website Core77 says, "Industrial designers: Do you find it stings when non-designers invent a successful product that you should have thought of?" The product is called the TubShroom, and it's a silicone ribber gadget that fits into drains to trap hair.

What's interesting is that [inventors Serge and Elena Karnegie] sought funding on both Kickstarter and IndieGogo — and smashed it on both. They gathered $59,267 on the former and about $120,000 on the latter.

That was last year. This year they've returned to Kickstarter with a smaller version called, unsurprisingly, the SinkShroom. The $12 device has already been 400% funded, and there's 18 days left to pledge if you want one.

The TubShroom is available on Amazon for $13. Read the rest

Contraption converts a "hoverboard" into a go-kart

The Hoverboard Cart is a $69 aluminum frame that attaches to hoverboards and holds a beach chair, cooler, or other seat. You steer it with your feet. The only thing missing is a mount for a fire extinguisher.

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Explore the history of invention through cool-looking patent models

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

What many Americans may not be aware of is that, from the introduction of the U.S. Patent system, in 1790, up until 1880, every submitted patent document required a model of the invention to accompany it. Thousands upon thousands of models were submitted, so many that buildings had to be built to house them all. In 1994, an upstate New York couple, Ann and Allan Rothschild, began collecting some of these surviving models, eventually amassing some 4,000 items. This model collection forms the basis for Inventing a Better Mousetrap, a beautiful and fascinating exploration of these models, the patents they illustrated, and the sometimes profound import these inventions had on the growth and development of the United States of America.

One of the more fascinating dimensions of history is context, understanding the unique circumstances out of which something developed and the impact that development had upon history’s larger canvas. Besides gorgeous photographs and details of each of the models, every chapter (e.g. Steam, Heat, Light & Fire, Leather & Shoes, Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms) provides background on the circumstances that gave rise to the developments it examines. So, for example, in the ATF chapter, we learn about how the 1779 “Corn Patch and Cabin Rights” law, enacted for the Virginia territories (giving settlers 400 acres in what is now Kentucky, if they built a cabin and planted a corn crop), led to massive corn yields in the extremely fertile soil of the region. Read the rest

Hands-free wheelchair controlled by leaning

Ogo is a battery powered wheelchair that has a hands-free control system. The creator says people can even mow their lawn while sitting in it. They say "we are currently in the preproduction set up, and are expected to be up and going soon." (Thanks, Matthew!) Read the rest

Inspiring and gorgeous patent drawings

Inventions are exciting, but the best ones are art.

Undergrads reinvent the cardboard box

Two juniors at Cooper Union have re-invented the cardboard box, making a tape-free container that's more environmentally-friendly and easier to use. Why didn't the box-making industry think of this 50 years ago? (Thanks, Matthew!) Read the rest

7 inventions that failed miserably

I like this Smithsonian story that plays with the Edison/Tesla mythology, wherein Edison was the guy who made business-savvy decisions and Tesla was the financial failure. Set your schadenfreude to stun and enjoy this list of 7 Edison ideas that fell flat, including a supremely creepy talking baby doll. Read the rest

Ten cool inventions unveiled at Engadget's Expand event

Machines that bend strong steel wire have been an important part of industrial manufacturing for decades. But on Saturday, I saw a $3,000 wire-bending machine the size of a laser printer, and my brain bubbled with excitement over the possibilities for hobbyists and small businesses. The machine, called the DIWire, can take a curve that's been drawn in Adobe Illustrator and "print" it on a length of stiff wire. You could make some awesome Eames-style furniture with one of these machines. NASA is already interested in using it to make antennae. It opens new frontiers for artists and designers, too. Read the rest

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