Good Thinking

The oddest inventions of 2015

The best outside the box inventions of 2015
The best outside the box inventions of 2015
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The Main Drain is designed to attach to the rim of an existing toilet
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The Main Drain is designed to attach to the rim of an existing toilet
The Main Drain is the brainchild of Daniel Garvin
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The Main Drain is the brainchild of Daniel Garvin
The Main Drain might be useful for men with less than stellar aim
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The Main Drain might be useful for men with less than stellar aim
The electric hammer is powered by an 18.5-volt, 3,000-mAh lithium-polymer battery, and is built from scratch mainly out of aluminum
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The electric hammer is powered by an 18.5-volt, 3,000-mAh lithium-polymer battery, and is built from scratch mainly out of aluminum
Patrick Priebe brought Homer Simpson's electric hammer to life
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Patrick Priebe brought Homer Simpson's electric hammer to life
The Bond robot is intended to "make it easy to send beautiful, personalized things to the people you care about"
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The Bond robot is intended to "make it easy to send beautiful, personalized things to the people you care about"
The Bond robot creates a "hand-written" note in your handwriting
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The Bond robot creates a "hand-written" note in your handwriting
The HydroHammock is built from sealed, high-tensile fabric designed to hold a tub-full of water – hot or cold
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The HydroHammock is built from sealed, high-tensile fabric designed to hold a tub-full of water – hot or cold
The Smart Forgigs concept car has five amplifiers, 16 loudspeakers and two 30-cm (11.8-in) diameter subwoofers
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The Smart Forgigs concept car has five amplifiers, 16 loudspeakers and two 30-cm (11.8-in) diameter subwoofers
Smart worked with audio firm JBL to create the Forgigs concept
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Smart worked with audio firm JBL to create the Forgigs concept
The Smart Forgigs has a Mosconi digital signal processor that can stream music via Bluetooth from iOS, Android and Windows devices
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The Smart Forgigs has a Mosconi digital signal processor that can stream music via Bluetooth from iOS, Android and Windows devices
The HydroHammock: a portable hot tub for outdoor relaxation
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The HydroHammock: a portable hot tub for outdoor relaxation
When not viewed from the side, the fahz looks like the creation of someone not exactly skilled in vase-making
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When not viewed from the side, the fahz looks like the creation of someone not exactly skilled in vase-making
fahzes can incorporate anywhere from one to 16 profiles
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fahzes can incorporate anywhere from one to 16 profiles
fazes puts the profiles of up to 16 people in vase form
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fazes puts the profiles of up to 16 people in vase form
PancakeBot lets you print out your own pancakes
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PancakeBot lets you print out your own pancakes
The Protopiper is a radical take on the humble tape gun
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The Protopiper is a radical take on the humble tape gun
The Protopiper can be used to construct wireframe models
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The Protopiper can be used to construct wireframe models
The LeafxPro's creators claim the design is aerodynamic to the point that riding in winds of up to 80 km/h (50 mph) will cause no issues
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The LeafxPro's creators claim the design is aerodynamic to the point that riding in winds of up to 80 km/h (50 mph) will cause no issues
The LeafxPro comes in a few different models: Classic, Advanced, Storm, Family, and Pro
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The LeafxPro comes in a few different models: Classic, Advanced, Storm, Family, and Pro
The LeafxPro is intended to keep cyclists dry in a downpour
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The LeafxPro is intended to keep cyclists dry in a downpour
The Flyte levitating light
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The Flyte levitating light
If it's not lighting you're after, the base can also be used as a wireless charging pad for your smartphone
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If it's not lighting you're after, the base can also be used as a wireless charging pad for your smartphone
The best outside the box inventions of 2015
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The best outside the box inventions of 2015

Television, the telephone and many other great inventions throughout history were initially scoffed at before they went on to take the world by storm. That's not a likely scenario when it comes to the following list of oddball contraptions ... but you never know. In a nod to free-spirited thinking that's not beholden to suffocating notions of common sense or commercial success, here's our pick of the quirkiest inventions to hit Gizmag's pages throughout the year.

Hangtime in the hot tub

The HydroHammock: a portable hot tub for outdoor relaxation
The HydroHammock: a portable hot tub for outdoor relaxation

As what has to be the year's best (or worst) glamping accessory, the HydroHammock combines a hammock and a hot tub in one portable package. Built from sealed, high-tensile fabric, it can hold two people and up to 50 gallons (189 l) of hot (or cold) water. It may not be everyone's idea of roughing it in the great outdoors, but we've really warmed to it – as have enough backers to make the HydroHammock crowdfunding campaign a success.

Diabolical dispenser

The Protopiper is a radical take on the humble tape gun
The Protopiper is a radical take on the humble tape gun

Ok so it might not be all that practical around the home, but the mad-scientist in us really, really wants this. The Protopiper is a radical take on the humble tape gun that can be used as a 3D sketching tool to create life-size wireframe models, complete with hinges, bearings, and axles to give them opening doors, drawers, and movement. The result is both a useful tool for designers and the most awesome looking contraption since MacGyver hung up his paperclips.

Printed pancakes

PancakeBot lets you print out your own pancakes
PancakeBot lets you print out your own pancakes

dreadnought guitars, lawn mowers, supercars, unmanned aircraft, jet engines, teeth, hair, turtle-beaks, titanium ribcages, rhinoceros horns and pancakes, yep pancakes. Due to the flat nature of its output, the PancakeBot might not technically fit the description of a 3D printer, but it follows the same process – create a design on computer, feed it into the machine, press "go" and watch as your creativity is given life. The added bonus here is that you get to it eat, but it's not all 21st century automation – you still have to flip the pancakes yourself.

Audio overkill

The Smart Forgigs concept car has five amplifiers, 16 loudspeakers and two 30-cm (11.8-in) diameter subwoofers
The Smart Forgigs concept car has five amplifiers, 16 loudspeakers and two 30-cm (11.8-in) diameter subwoofers

When is a smart idea not a smart idea? This could be the answer. The one-of-a-kind Smart "Forgigs" is what happens when you cram five amplifiers, 16 loudspeakers and two 11.8-in subwoofers into one of the smallest cars going around. An ear-splitting maximum output of 5,720 W and 150 dB is what happens ... and no room for groceries.

Failing to make a splash

The Main Drain is designed to attach to the rim of an existing toilet
The Main Drain is designed to attach to the rim of an existing toilet

There's no doubt urinals have their place, and that place is in public toilets where they can accommodate a higher volume of patrons in a given area than individual cubicles can. That's not such a concern in the home, but that didn't stop Daniel Garvin creating the Main Drain, a one-person urinal that attaches to an existing toilet. Apparently most failed to see the merits of the design and Garvin's crowdfunding campaign fell well short of its goal.

The writing's on the wall

The Bond robot creates a "hand-written" note in your handwriting
The Bond robot creates a "hand-written" note in your handwriting

About the only time many people pick up a pen these days is to put their John Hancock on a credit card receipt, and even that is becoming a rare event. As a result, the handwriting of a large proportion of the population is approaching doctor-levels of illegibility, which makes us question the worth of a note written by a machine emulating one's particular style of scrawl. Admittedly, the Bond robot can also churn out letters in the styles of famous people, but that seems to fly in the face of the "personalized" letter Bond is aiming for. And how many people are likely to identify Nicola Tesla's handwriting style anyway?

Not nailing it

Patrick Priebe brought Homer Simpson's electric hammer to life
Patrick Priebe brought Homer Simpson's electric hammer to life

Spider-Man web shooter to a working model of the original Death Star. But this year he veered from his usual laser-based creations to bring Homer Simpson's electric hammer to life. Unfortunately, whereas Homer's animated effort suffered from too much power, Priebe's creation has the opposite problem and doesn't appear useful on anything but the softest of materials.

Face palm

fazes puts the profiles of up to 16 people in vase form
fazes puts the profiles of up to 16 people in vase form

If you're looking for something that highlights your double chin or Cyrano-like nose then the fahz could be the answer. By personalizing the Rubin's vase optical illusion with the profiles of not just one, but up to 16 people, the fahz vase ends up looking like it was produced by someone still learning their way around a potter's wheel. But enough people liked the idea to see the fahz crowdfunding campaign reach over six times its goal and backers are now able to admire their profiles in vase form, so what do we know?

Ummm ... brella

The LeafxPro's creators claim the design is aerodynamic to the point that riding in winds of up to 80 km/h (50 mph) will cause no issues
The LeafxPro's creators claim the design is aerodynamic to the point that riding in winds of up to 80 km/h (50 mph) will cause no issues

Cycling through the rain isn't anyone's idea of a good time, and we've seen numerous attempts to protect riders from a downpour through the addition of a clear canopy, such as the Dryve and Veltop. These might be ok if there's no wind accompanying the rain, but could make handling a little difficult if there is. The LeafxPro is claimed to handle wind better than competing efforts thanks to a more aerodynamic design, but appears to do so at the expense of rain protection. So unless the rain is coming from head on, bits of you are still going to get wet.

The levitating lightbulb

The Flyte levitating light
The Flyte levitating light

One day we may look back and ask how humanity ever survived without magnetic levitation. From 500 km/h trains to hoverboards to Bluetooth speakers, this is a technology on the march. Now light bulbs have joined the fray. Flyte is a light globe that hovers freely above its base, combining levitation with wireless charging and, we should hope, conversation starting. Those doubting the practicality of such a contraption should note that the base could also be used as a wireless charging pad for your phone.

This list is by no means comprehensive when it comes to the left-field thinking we've encountered throughout the year, leaving plenty of room for some honorable mentions, such as a vertical record player, a luxury tank, a device that makes dead bait fish move, an unboiled egg and a smartphone controlled cradle.

So what's the wackiest gadget you've seen during the year? We'd love to hear about it via the comments section below.

5 comments
EH
My nomination for mad invention of the year is transparent, fluorescent rats: http://www.gizmag.com/pars-transparent-tissue/33208/
Douglas Bennett Rogers
May not qualify as an invention but Falcon 9 vertical landing is a major science fiction realization.
janetevans
An invention that I recently purchased sort of reminds me of the electric hammer featured above, but it actually works. It is an battery powered sifting rake. It is sort of like a manure/bedding fork that has a screened basket. You pick ip the sand and activate a small electric motor in the handle that "Shakes" the basket, much like you do manually but much faster and without any physical work. I found it at www.shakenrake.com. I use it on my sand volleyball court and it is terrific! It should be on this page.
cretney
Before Homer Simpson invented the electric hammer, it was the invention of Rand Peltzer- fictional father and inventor from the movie "Gremlins". http://www.i-mockery.com/minimocks/gremlins-peltzer-inventions/gremlins-peltzer-inventions-piston-powered-hammer.jpg
warren52nz
I think someone should make a hydrophobic coating for toilets so nothing will stick to the porcelain. An end to "skid marks" forever. Remember you heard it here first. 8^)
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