February's patents pick 5 article

Winter Patents

Anthony Knight : Office of Innovation Development

Bunkered in during a snow advisory? Had enough of that polar vortex? We’ve got just the thing to bring you a little cheer when the weather outside remains bleak.

There’s a lot of ways we escape winter’s grip, but the following five patents may bring you some warmth, some joy, and even some relief from the cold and wintry days. In no particular order, here are my five favorite cold weather patents.

Note: This article is the first in an ongoing series detailing some of the Inventors Eye staff’s favorite patents. For each article, the writer selects their five favorite patents under a given theme. Our first list is from Acting Associate Commissioner for Innovation Development Anthony Knight.

 

U.S. Patent No. 3,612,075
Aircraft Deicing Apparatus

When I originally saw U.S. patent no. 3,612,075 years ago, I thought, “Wow! It’s a carwash for airplanes.” Well, not exactly. It looked pretty wild, but at the time I wondered whether it could be practical. Fast forward a few years and I found myself at the Pittsburgh airport on a very cold day in January. My plane had landed for a short layover, and as I looked at the accumulated ice on the wings I thought, “We’ll never take off again.”  Ice on the wings of an airplane adds weight and makes it hard to control. But then the plane pulled up to a deicing station—just like the one I’d seen in the patent—and within minutes the plane was treated and we were in the air. Deicing stations like this have kept many an airport open and airline passengers safe.

 

U.S. Patent No. 5,864,886
Article of Thermal Clothing for Covering the Underlying Area at the Gap Between a Coat Sleeve and a Glove

Despite the long title, U.S. patent no. 5,864,886 is so deceptively simple even a kid could make it. In fact, a kid did invent it! It is a wrap for the wrist. Those of us in cold climates know that the space between the glove and the sleeve is the Achilles heel of every good pair of gloves. This invention covers the wrist and keeps heat from escaping. It can also be used without gloves or mittens if the wearer needs to handle small items.

 

U.S. Patent No. 7,631,443
Wheeled Shovel with Hinge Apparatus

For those of us with bad backs, the wheeled snow shovel (U.S. Patent No. 7,631,443) is a great invention. This device pushes snow along the ground and throws it without the operator having to bend or use his or her back. Just simply step forward and push down on the handle and the snow flies. It almost makes me want to get up from my cozy seat on the couch and go outside to shovel the sidewalk. Almost.

 

U.S. Patent No. D503,125
Two Piece Snowman Mold

No collection of winter themed patents would be complete without a snowman mold. One of my favorites is D503,125. This mold has everything you need for a proper snowman. Not only do you get the basic shape of the snowman, but you also get the nose, the eyes, and even the hat! This is an excellent invention for those of us who, like me, are artistically challenged.  

 

U.S. Patent No. 4,169,709
Artificial Fireplace Logs

My last selection is U.S. Patent No. 4,169,709, which doesn’t have a drawing, so you’ll just have to imagine a wood-like log. Interestingly, this is not the first artificial fuel ever patented—you would have to go back to 1864 for that. While some people may not favor artificial fireplace logs, they do have some advantages over natural wood. Many of them are composed of waste materials, so using them reduces the number of trees cut for firewood. And the Artificial Fireplace Log does make a crackling sound similar to a natural log. They also burn clean and can create a fun display of colors.

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