The best (and worst) Christmas inventions

21st December 2018
Joe Bush

The most innovative consumer devices are those that meet a real need while facilitating a change in behaviour - often enabled by a convergence in technology. To accelerate this process, Iprova is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to review technical, scientific and consumer trends to find the ingredients that will create the winning products of the future.

Iprova CEO Julian Nolan commented: “The benefit of using AI at the front-end of invention is that it is not restricted by human expertise, nor subject to personal bias. Human evaluation of the options is still vital to ensure the feasibility of the invention, but when it comes to creating new ideas these can be based on our insight into advances in any domain.”

Nolan considers that it takes more than just a good idea to turn inventions into products that will see the light of day. “We can’t tell which of these seasonal inventions has actually made it, but with an invention approach based on data, Iprova doesn’t leave commercial value up to chance.”

Ten inventions of Christmas past

  1. Tree decorating assistant: A tree decorating assistant apparatus for applying ornaments and lighting to a Christmas (or other seasonal) tree and comprising a decoration support element, provided by a replication of animal antlers (or horns). Inventor Rodney Hairfield 2014 (US20160082587A1).
  2. Automatic Christmas tree fire extinguisher: Adapted to be fitted on a Christmas tree. Ornamental in design and fragile to break and spread the fluid over the tree. Inventor Leonard Deyo 1947 (US2522020A).
  3. Apparatus to prevent pets climbing a Christmas tree: Providing a screen below the bottom branches of a Christmas tree to prevent pets from climbing up the tree and destroying ornaments or dislodging needles. Inventor Nancy A. Ross 2007 (US8230812B2).
  4. Device for permanent installation of Christmas lighting: Permanent installation to cover exterior Christmas lighting from view when not switched on. Inventor Robert G. Shaffer 1996 (US5813751A).
  5. Edible snow maker: Due to the structure, the edible soft and delicious snow can be made in different seasons without the influence of the environment. Chinese inventor 2002 (CN2539401Y).
  6. Snowball maker: Inner and outer cup-like shells, which interfit to compact snow into a ball. The inner shell resiliently opens to its original shape for ready release of the compacted ball of snow. Inventor Robert Stern and Thomas Wallace 1977 (US4163639A).
  7. Lighted fireplace and fire noise simulator: To create a fire simulating effect without actually providing flames or causing combustion. Inventors Nielsen and Valliant 1968 (US3526984A).
  8. Mulled wine pads: Mulled wine flavour in a filter pad, which can be used in machines for preparing coffee from coffee pads. Inventor Baumann, Kauffelt and Schutz 2012 (DE202012100053U1).
  9. Method and apparatus for preparation of eggnog: Excellent preservability, by mixing egg with sugar, adding Japanese SAKE (rice wine) to the mixture, heating the mixture, and filtering to remove the vitelline membrane and embryo. Inventor Heiichi Izawa 1984 (JPS60192582A).
  10. Santa Claus detector: A children's Christmas stocking device useful for visually signalling the arrival of Santa Claus by illuminating an externally visible light source. Inventor Thomas Cane 1994 (US5523741A).

Nolan commented: “It is important to have champions to push through novel ideas but pursuing non-valuable or irrelevant technology can place a burden on an organisation.”

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