Scientists invent an electronic device that cancels sound coming through windows

The New York Times reports that researchers in Singapore have invented a device that fits in a window and can reduce loud noises from the outside by 10 decibels. “If you sit in the room, you get that same feeling like when you flick on the switch of noise-canceling earphones,” says Bhan Lam, a researcher at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore that developed the Anti-Noise Control Window.

Their results were published on Thursday in Scientific Reports. The prototype is not yet the most practical device in real world conditions, but it points the way toward the development of technologies that may help ease the strain of noisy city living.

Borrowing from the same technological principles used in noise-canceling headphones, the team expanded the concept to fit an entire room by placing 24 small speakers in a window. The speakers emit sound waves that correspond to the incoming racket and neutralize it — or, at least some of it.

Read the rest

An AI that invented two things can't receive patent

The US Patent and Trademark Office said an AI that invented a food container system and a warning light that flashes in a "hard to ignore rhythm" is ineligible to receive a patent, reports the BBC.

The creator of the artificial intelligence system, a researcher name Steven Thaler, said he cannot be considered the inventor because he did not help with the inventions. But the patent office said it would cause unwanted legal complications if non-human entities were allowed to be granted patents.

Photo by Rock'n Roll Monkey on Unsplash Read the rest

Clever inventor designs sock removal device

“I design Unnecessary Inventions for fun,” says IMGURian @rightcoastguy, who was challenged by fellow users to make this truly silly and wacky invention.

“Meet the SockNoMore.” Read the rest

The game Operation was born as a test of desert survival skills

We all know the game Operation in which the player must conduct surgery on a curious character named Cavity Sam. As the commercial goes, "It takes a very steady hand." But as sci-tech historian Allison Marsh writes in IEEE Spectrum, Operation evolved from a very different electrified game called Death Valley that was invented in the early 1960s by a University of Illinois industrial design student named John Spinello. From IEEE Spectrum:

Spinello’s game, called Death Valley, didn’t feature a patient, but rather a character lost in the desert. His canteen drained by a bullet hole, he wanders through ridiculous hazards in search of water. Players moved around the board, inserting their game piece—a metal probe—into holes of various sizes. The probe had to go in cleanly without touching the sides; otherwise it would complete a circuit and sound a buzzer. Spinello’s professor gave him an A....

Spinello sold the idea to Marvin Glass and Associates, a Chicago-based toy design company, for US $500, his name on the U.S. patent (3,333,846), and the promise of a job, which never materialized.

Mel Taft, a game designer at Milton Bradley, saw a prototype of Death Valley and thought it had potential. His team tinkered with the idea but decided it would be more interesting if the players had to remove an object rather than insert a probe. They created a surgery-themed game, and Operation was born.

BUTTAFINGAS!

Read the rest

How wallpaper cleaner became one of the most popular toys ever

During the early 20th century, Kutol Products was the world's biggest manufacturer of wallpaper cleaning products. But once coal heating in homes was replaced with oil, gas, and electricity, dirty wallpaper became less of a problem and Kutol was in trouble. So in 1956, they pivoted. From Smithsonian:

Joseph McVicker was trying to turn around the struggling company when his sister-in-law read an article about how wallpaper cleaner could be used for modeling projects. Sister-in-law Kay Zufall, a nursery school teacher, tested the nontoxic material with children, who loved molding it into all kinds of shapes. She told McVicker of her discovery and even suggested a new name: Play-Doh...

Originally available in white only in 1956, Play-Doh soon expanded to include basic colors red, blue and yellow. It is now sold in a panoply of hues, including Rose Red, Purple Paradise, Garden Green and Blue Lagoon. The Putty line includes metallic and glittery tints. The recipe has gone through minor modifications over time. At one point, the amount of salt was reduced so the product would not dry out so quickly. But, for the most part, the mixture has remained the same.

Read the rest

Inventor figures out how to sync music to windshield wipers

And you can bid on the invention's intellectual property rights next week.

Inventor/Artist (Inventist?) Ian Charnas has devised a way for windshield wipers to be in sync with the beat of the music you're listening to. Now, you can't just go out and buy his Dancing Wipers at the store. No, no. But you can bid to gain their IP rights on eBay next Wednesday.

His thoroughly entertaining 15-minute-long pitch video explains it all. You get quite a bit of insight into the creation process which is valuable and fun!

Know someone who has to have this? Is that someone you?

Mark your calendars for that eBay auction: October 16, 2019 Noon EST Bidding starts at $1. The Buy it Now price is $25,000.

Thanks, Mark! Read the rest

The Slinky was invented by accident

Today is National Slinky Day. As Rachael Lallensack writes in Smithsonian, a spring, a spring, this marvelous thing was invented by accident:

In 1943, mechanical engineer Richard James was designing a device that the Navy could use to secure equipment and shipments on ships while they rocked at sea. As the story goes, he dropped the coiled wires he was tinkering with on the ground and watched them tumble end-over-end across the floor.

After dropping the coil, he could have gotten up, frustrated, and chased after it without a second thought. But he—as inventors often do—had a second thought: perhaps this would make a good toy.

As Jonathon Schifman reported for Popular Mechanics, Richard James went home and told his wife, Betty James, about his idea. In 1944, she scoured the dictionary for a fitting name, landing on “slinky,” which means “sleek and sinuous in movement or outline.” Together, with a $500 loan, they co-founded James Industries in 1945, the year the Slinky hit store shelves...

Seventy-two years ago, Richard James received a patent for the Slinky, describing “a helical spring toy which will walk on an amusement platform such as an inclined plane or set of steps from a starting point to successive lower landing points without application of external force beyond the starting force and the action of gravity.” He had worked out the ideal dimensions for the spring, 80-feet of wire into a two-inch spiral. (You can find an exact mathematical equation for the slinky in his patent materials.)

Read the rest

Crocs gloves: "dad’s favorite shoes... for your hands"

Entrepreneur and Product Designer Matt Benedetto is an inventing machine. Under the umbrella of "Unnecessary Inventions," he's brought the world a-mazing, and absolutely absurd, creations. His latest pièce de résistance? Fingerless Crocs Gloves. Yup, he's made Crocs that you can wear on your hands. And, no, he didn't cut up a pair of shoes. No, no. These little beauties were 3D-printed. Watch the video to see the entire process to get from idea to prototype. It's impressive! Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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)

Read the rest

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

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

More posts