In 1960, Thomas Scoville received a patent for a device for measuring tuberosity
. He explained that the purpose of measuring tuberosity was to improve the fit of chairs:
the chief object of the present invention is to provide a novel apparatus which will provide a visual and instantaneous indication when a chair under test is properly dimensioned to fit any given person.
Even after looking up the meaning of the word 'tuberosity' in the dictionary, it took me a while to figure out what exactly Scoville's device was measuring, and what it possibly had to do with chairs. Because the dictionary simply defined tuberosity as a 'rounded swelling.' Some more googling revealed that Scoville must have been referring to the Ischial tuberosity, or 'sitting bone'. As defined by wikipedia, this is:
a large swelling posteriorly on the superior ramus of the ischium. It marks the lateral boundary of the pelvic outlet. When sitting, the weight is frequently placed upon the ischial tuberosity. The gluteus maximus provides cover in the upright posture, but leaves it free in the seated position. The distance between a cyclist's ischial tuberosities is one of the factors in the choice of a bicycle saddle.
Unfortunately, I can't find any info about how Leon Colby fared after his 5-day ordeal trapped in a folding bed.
The situation seems like an absurdist, real-life variation on the premise of Stephen King's Gerald's Game
Lancaster Intelligencer Journal - Oct 10, 1977
Some googling reveals that, while being trapped in a folding bed may sound bizarre, it's disturbingly common. See here
, and here
From the Strand Magazine - Vol 8, 1894
Here we have an article which brings both extremes of existence together—the symbol of death is used to rest the babe who has just begun life—birth and death are mentally associated upon contemplating this peculiar outcome of man's mind. Whether intended to impress the growing child with the nearness of death, and to demand a due reverence for the future state of man, or whether merely the result of a morbid desire to connect the mind continually with the undertaker, I cannot venture to say; although it must be admitted that the cross fixed at the head of this curious cradle substantiates the supposition that a religious idea prompted its construction. The bells, which tinkle upon occasions when the cradle is being rocked, seem to point to the wish on the parents' part to comfort the little darling of humanity destined to occupy this coffin-cradle.
Thomas Mullenaux of San Pedro, CA was recently granted a patent (No. 10,626,581
) for furniture that gathers water from the air via a dehumidifier, collects it in a built-in reservoir, and then allows a person to drink it through a retractable hose.
However, in his patent application, Mullenaux never explains why anyone would want or need 'water-dispensing furniture'. I guess it might be useful for those who are too lazy to walk to their kitchen to get a glass of water.
The water dispensing system for furniture includes a water dispensing system that is built into or attached onto an item of furniture. Water is stored within a reservoir within a water system housing and may be pumped through a first filter to one of two retractable hoses. The water is provided via a dehumidifier and second filter that draw moisture from the air and purify the resulting water. At least one retractable hose is provided, and includes a mouthpiece. When the at least one retractable hose is released, said hose is pulled back into the item of furniture to stay out of the way. When not in use, the retractable hoses are wound around spring-loaded reels.
Hattie Wiener received patents in 1991 and 1993 for an anti-aging chair. The two patents were basically variations on the same theme. The 1991 version of the chair
is on the left below, and the 1993 version
is on the right.
Actually, in the patent write-ups she didn’t mention the anti-aging properties of the chair, but that’s how she described it to the media. She also promoted herself as an “anti-aging consultant.”
The idea was that the chair would force a person to sit upright, and thereby improve their posture and circulation. And this, in turn, would help a person stay healthy as they aged.
She hoped to sell the chair for $600. A lot for a fairly minimalist piece of furniture. But as far as I can tell, it never made it to market.
(left) The Desert Sun - Oct 27, 1991; (right) Austin American-Statesman - Nov 10, 1991
Hattie was in her 50s when she patented the chair. Fast-forward almost thirty years, and now, in her 80s, she's still in the news, but for a very different reason. She's become known as the "Tinder Granny,"
due to her enthusiasm for using the dating app Tinder to find hookups with younger men.
She's certainly defying the stereotypes of age. But I'm disappointed that in none of the recent pictures of her is she using her anti-aging chair. In fact, in the photo below she's totally slouching.
Hattie Wiener, age 83
Back in 2018, Paul posted about an "advertising chair" patented in 1910
. As a person rocked in it, advertisements scrolled in the armrests.
Patent No. 958,793 (1910)
I recently discovered that this invention wasn't a one-off. In the early twentieth century, inventors were actively competing to perfect advertising chairs and inflict them on the public. I was able to find four other advertising chair patents (and there's probably even more than this). To my untrained eye, they all look very similar, but evidently they were different enough to each get their own patent.
Patent No. 934,856 (1909)
Patent No. 993,397 (1911)
Patent No. 1,094,154 (1914)
Patent No. 1,441,911 (1923)
A newspaper search brought up an 1895 article that described advertising chairs as the "latest in advertising." It also explained that the concept was to put these chairs in various places where there were captive audiences, such as "hotel lobbies, public libraries, depots and in fact in all places where tired humanity is used to taking a quiet little rest during the day."
Minneapolis Star Tribune (Dec 8, 1895)
But although entrepreneurs may have been keen to build advertising chairs, the public was evidently far less enthusiastic about them. An editorial in the Kansas City Journal
(reprinted in Printer's Ink magazine - Jan 2, 1901
) described an advertising chair as "comfortable enough physically, but mentally it is a torture... Just who invented the advertising chair is not known. He has no reason to be proud."
There must have been a number of these advertising chairs in existence, but I'm unable to find any surviving examples of them. Searching eBay, for instance, only pulls up chairs with advertisements printed on them.
Yet another way to make blue jeans weird.
Source: Catawiki auctions
The latest from artist Jonathon Keats: a "cosmic welcome mat" to greet visitors from outer space. The mats will be placed at various locations around the Bedford Park campus of Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, to coincide with the 68th International Astronautical Congress
that will be taking place nearby. The mats will be examined periodically to check for signs of extraterrestrial visitation.
From a press release:
"Years ago, Fermi famously questioned the existence of intelligent life throughout the universe," says experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats. "Fermi asked, 'Where is everybody?' Maybe the reason we've never encountered aliens is that they never felt invited. From an outsider's perspective, human behavior can appear pretty unfriendly, and that impression has some truth to it."
To counter the hostility of his species, and to communicate hospitality to aliens, Mr. Keats enlisted the most welcoming of human inventions. His cosmic welcome mat, developed in consultation with Flinders space archaeologist Alice Gorman, translates the concept of welcomeness into a visual language that all sentient beings can potentially comprehend.
"In fact, the mat comes in four different versions," says Dr. Gorman. "Since we can't make any assumptions about beings we've never encountered, and certainly can't assume that they're versed in human culture, it's important to present them with different options built on different premises." For instance, one version of the mat expresses welcomeness in terms of geometric fit, while another does so by biological analogy, evoking room for growth.
Dr. Gorman and a team of Flinders students will rigorously monitor use of the intergalactic doormats, employing standard archaeological sampling techniques. The carpeting will be regularly vacuumed for sediment. Comparison of sedimentary deposits can provide important data about how effectively welcomeness has been communicated by each design. These data will inform future iterations of the mat, slated for distribution worldwide, and potential future deployment on the International Space Station.
The concept reminds me of the various UFO landing ports that have been constructed throughout the world, such as the one in Lake City, PA
. Also relevant is Douglas Curran's book, In Advance of the Landing
, about objects built by people in anticipation of the arrival of extraterrestrials.
More info: flinders.edu.au
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