Category:
Patents

A system for climbing vertical surfaces

The French patent office granted Raymond Saulnier a patent in 1951 for "a system for climbing vertical surfaces." A British patent followed in 1952.

Saulnier had come up with a way to allow vehicles, or even people, to climb vertical surfaces without the aid of ropes. His insight was that climbing any slope is essentially a problem of adhesion. If a force stronger than gravity is pushing you against the slope, then you won't slide down. And that adhesive force could be supplied by the downward pressure of propellors or jet nozzles.



Of course, powering propellors or jet nozzles requires a lot of energy. So Saulnier imagined powering them with compressed air supplied by a tube from the ground. He suggested that firefighters, among others, might find his system useful for scaling the sides of buildings.

I've never seen a prototype of Saulnier's invention in action. But when I was in Target the other day, I noticed a Sharper Image-branded toy named the "Gravity Rover" that "climbs from floor to wall to ceiling." It occurred to me that this was Saulnier's invention transformed into a toy.

It's a pretty cool toy, but based on videos of it, extremely loud.



Posted By: Alex - Sun Nov 26, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Technology, Toys, Patents

Speed Mask for Swimmers

From what I can gather, Calvin Gongwer is legendary for his inventions in the world of ocean swimming. But his speed mask doesn't seem to have gained a following.

(left) Popular Mechanics - Dec 1968; (right) Ottawa Citizen - July 25, 1968



Patent No. 3,653,086

Posted By: Alex - Mon Nov 13, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Swimming, Snorkeling, and Diving, Patents

Device to Cure Ingrown Toenail

This torture apparatus surely looks to provide worse pain than the malady it purports to cure. A metal hook goes under the toenail itself and yanks it up, whereupon it is strapped into position for permanent wear.

Full patent here.



Posted By: Paul - Wed Nov 08, 2023 - Comments (4)
Category: Inventions, Patents, 1940s, Diseases, Feet

Rain-Making Device

Full patent here.



Posted By: Paul - Tue Oct 17, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Inventions, Patents, 1910s, Weather

Combination Pillow and Crash Helmet

"The device thus formed is useful as a courtesy pillow for the comfort of airline passengers, and doubles as a crash helmet which may be put over the head of the passenger when he is forewarned of an impending crash landing."

More info: Patent No. 3,538,508

Posted By: Alex - Sat Sep 23, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Patents, Air Travel and Airlines, 1970s

Suction-Cup Scalp Nipples for Holding a Wig in Place

The illustration shows adhesive anchoring, but he does say suction cups are an option!

Full patent here.



Posted By: Paul - Wed Sep 20, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Wigs, Hairpieces, Fake Eyelashes, Implants, and other Prosthetics, Patents, 1920s, Head

Automatic Cat Litter Box—Under Cat’s Control

I detect one small flaw in this concept, hidden in the phrase "the cat is trained..."

Full patent here.



Posted By: Paul - Sun Sep 10, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Patents, Excrement, Cats, 1960s

Clipboard Gun

The justification for this clipboard gun was that it would allow police officers to approach stopped vehicles looking as if they were holding a clipboard, not a gun.

The problem that I see is that it wouldn't take long for the public to realize that the clipboards were actually guns. In which case, even if a police officer was genuinely only carrying a clipboard, everyone would assume it was a gun.

More info: Patent No. 4,016,666



Posted By: Alex - Tue Aug 29, 2023 - Comments (2)
Category: Police and Other Law Enforcement, Patents, 1970s, Weapons

Anti-Bulbsnatcher Device

This post is partially a tribute to the end of the incandescent bulb, after its long and glorious reign.

For many years, GE conducted an ad campaign to discourage people from moving lightbulbs around from one fixture to another in a lazy manner, instead of always having a closetful of replacement bulbs. If only GE had invested in the patent which follows these ads, for a device that would not allow a bulb to be unscrewed with breaking it.







Full patent here.





Posted By: Paul - Tue Aug 22, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Domestic, Inventions, Patents, Technology, 1930s

Bank Robber Immobilizing Vestibule

So near as I can interpret this patent, in front of every bank teller's window is erected a revolving-door chamber. The customer--or robber--must enter the chamber, which revolves shut behind him. A good customer is allowed by the clerk's pressing of a switch to exit. The robber is held in place. What could go wrong?



Posted By: Paul - Thu Aug 17, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Crime, Inventions, Patents, Money, Innocent Bystanders, Passersby, Witnesses and Accidental Victims, 1940s

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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