The great outdoors – a giant playground for inventors

18 September 2017

For most people, being outdoors and enjoying nature is all about going “back to basics” and getting away from technology and gadgets. However, throughout the ages, seemingly straightforward and low-tech outdoor pursuits have attracted their fair share of amazing and interesting inventions as shown in the selection of weird and wonderful patents in this blog.

Early in the 20th century, folding boats were hugely popular throughout Europe. These typically consisted of a collapsible frame and a hull stretched over the frame to form a kayak. While the basic designs for folding boats reach back well over 2,000 years, inventors from the 1920s went even further and designed a foldable boat which could be turned into a cart for transporting the boat on land, wherein one of the frame struts of the boat would serve as an axle, the seats of the boat would serve as wheels of the cart, and the paddles of the boat would be turned into a handlebar of the cart (DE 396771 C filed on 28 October 1923). Unfortunately, this ingenious invention does not seem to have caught on, and modern-day folding boat users tend to either carry their collapsed and disassembled boats in large heavy bags, or use an additional cart for transporting the boat.

DE 396771 C

(photograph used with kind permission of Klepper Museum e.V., Klepperstraße 18, D83026 Rosenheim

As a more recent example, US patent US 9,532,558 B2, filed on 31 July 2014, provides a seriously high-tech fishing experience. This patent teaches to incorporate an electrical generator into a fishing reel assembly, so that electrical power is generated whenever the fishing line is reeled in or out by rotating the reel’s spool (see drawing below). The generated power is then used for remote control of a battery-operated lure, or even for charging electronic devices while waiting for the fish to bite.

US patent US 9,532,558 B2,

Even the traditionalist world of horse riding has seen its fair share of curious inventions – such as a horse training aid which allows a rider to dispense a sweet-tasting liquid directly into the horse’s mouth as a reward for good behaviour. The liquid is held inside a reservoir on the horse’s back, and a pump is provided for delivering the liquid into the horse’s mouth when actuated (GB 2473540 B filed on 8 September 2010, see image below).

GB 2473540 B

With a horse that has received such particularly effective training, it may (or may not) be safe to make use of a further strange horse-related invention: US 3,845,512, filed on 9 May 1973. This patent is directed at an infant bed, designed to be mounted on horseback, so that a sleeping baby can come along for a ride with a parent. As shown in the drawing below, the “bed” mainly consists of a U-shaped frame which can be attached to the rear of a saddle, however it does not look like it would provide a great deal of comfort to the baby…

US 3,845,512

We love reading through new (and old) patents for interesting inventions – which we may not have been able to dream of. I wonder what the next decade will bring.

Jana Crewett

Jana Crewett

Senior Associate

Our Expert
Jana Crewett
Jana Crewett
Location: Munich (Germany)

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