Industry Market Trends

The 7 Coolest (and Strangest) Inventions of 2010

Aug 17, 2010

2010 is shaping up to be a remarkable year for useful, amazing and downright bizarre inventions. Here we look at some of the most interesting and strangest devices grabbing headlines.

In 2009, The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued 191,927 patents to applicants worldwide. While this was a downturn from previous years, the USPTO has announced a new patent fast-track program to help encourage inventors to protect their intellectual property and file for patents. With the recession giving independent inventors extra time to tinker with their designs, 2010 is already seeing an increase in patent applications, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Here we look at some of the interesting, wild and just plain ridiculous inventions of 2010 so far.

Friendly Neighborhood Wall Crawler

Jem Stansfield, host of the BBC program Bang Goes the Theory, wasn't bitten by a radioactive spider, but he still managed to crawl up some walls this year. The 39-year-old inventor performed the feat as part of the Brighton Science Festival Programme with the aid of a device he fashioned from parts available at the local hardware store. Stansfield used two vacuums attached to plywood and rubber pads to create enough suction to hold his weight on the side of a building, the Telegraph reports. Although the machine worked, Stansfield said the sheer physical effort left his arms incredibly sore.

Can't Smoke 'Em if You've Got 'Em

Inventor Drus Dryden's new device sidesteps smokers' mental and emotional addiction by attacking the physical act of holding cigarettes. Dryden's no smoking gloves, which premiered at New Zealand's Dunedin Fringe Festival, make it difficult to hold a cigarette, preventing users from smoking, according to Fox News. However, the gloves are still easy to remove.

Double-Handled Toilet Seat

Aaron McConchie also revealed a new invention at the Dunedin Fringe Festival: the Double-Handled Toilet-Seat-O-Manual, which is a toilet with two handles on the seat. While you might think there must be a huge problem with lifting toilet seats in New Zealand, the festival rules stipulate that inventions need not be commercially viable, Fox News reports.

High-Tech Mosquito Zapper

Do you have a mosquito problem? If balms, zappers and sprays aren't your thing, you can always contact Intellectual Ventures to get ahold of their new high-tech anti-mosquito device, which uses common technology from printers and cameras to shoot down mosquitoes with a laser, according to the New York Times' Bits Blog. The device is so accurate it can zap 50 to 100 mosquitoes per second while logging their size, species and gender. And should you be interested in this 21st century bug gun, it will only set you back $50.

Double Your Brushing

If you have a problem getting that last bit of toothpaste out of the tube, inventor Dominic Wilcox has the solution: Two Way Toothpaste. His tube design features pipe exits on both sides, so if you squeeze from one side and trap the paste on the opposite end, you can cap the empty end and squeeze the toothpaste out the other way, Wilcox explains at his blog, Variations on Normal. Wilcox has also dreamed up the Home Visitor States Doorbell, which displays how many visitors come to your house each month, and a genetically modified egg with a flat bottom.

Cardboard Computer

The Greener Gadgets Design Competition in New York featured a lot of environmentally friendly devices, but none aroused as much interest as Brenden Macaluso's Recompute PC. The computer hosts 2GB of RAM, a 2.5-inch hard drive, four USB ports and a micro ATX motherboard. Oh, and the body is made of cardboard. Macaluso says cardboard was an ideal material for the Recompute, because it's recyclable and has a higher fire and ignition point than plastic. The whole thing is combined with non-toxic adhesive, according to Tom's Hardware.

Ending the Oil Leak

When BP asked the public for ideas to solve the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, many armchair inventors stepped up to the challenge. Darryl Carpenter, vice president of CW Robert Contracting, did a home experiment: when he put hay into a pan filled with oil and water, he found that the hay soaked up all the oil and left clear water. There was also buzz about an idea from the Soviet Union: dropping a nuke in the well. The Soviets had been able to seal gas leaks in wells by drilling holes and setting off nuclear bombs inside. The idea was quickly nixed by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the New York Times reports. One of the most surprising technologies applied to the cleanup effort is Kevin Costner's Ocean Therapy Solutions. The company uses oil separator turbines, which spin oil-infused water at high rates to separate the seawater from oil. BP was excited about the results and ordered 32 of the devices last month.

Earlier

USPTO Debuts New Patent Fast-Track Plan

Weekly Industry Crib Sheet: Capping the Gusher

Gauging the Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill

Light Friday: 9 Surprising Celebrity Inventions

Resources

Recession is Giving Inventors Time to Fine-Tune Their Ideas

by Alana Semuels

The Los Angeles Times, May 25, 2009

Jem Stansfield: 'Human Spiderman' Scales 30 ft Wall Using Only Vacuum Cleaner Suctions

by Andrew Hough

The Telegraph, Feb. 16, 2010

Oddities on Display at Dunedin Fringe Festival

by Nicholas Bailey and Alysha Bloxham

Fox News, March 25, 2010

Using Lasers to Zap Mosquitoes

by Jennifer Lee

Bits Blog (The New York Times), Feb. 12, 2010

Two Way Toothpaste

by Dominic Wilcox

Variations on Normal, Feb. 10, 2010

Doorbell with Inbuilt Visitor Statistics Display

by Dominic Wilcox

Variations on Normal, June 14, 2009

Genetically Modified Egg Improvement Design

by Dominic Wilcox

Variations on Normal, July 14, 2009

A Cardboard Computer: The Recompute PC

by Jane McEntegart

Tom's Hardware, Feb. 5, 2009

Nuclear Option on Gulf Oil Spill

by William Broad

The New York Times, June 2, 2010