Today I reveal the top five inventions
that were created by individual inventors in 2004, meaning
that you won't see the names of any big companies on these
inventions. These inventions are totally different from anything
that's been invented before, yet they are expected to have
Inventors live in your town and in your
neighborhood. The typical inventor can be your next-door neighbor,
your co-worker, your sister-in-law or a former classmate. Here,
then, are the top five inventions of 2004, the kind that make you
say, "Wow! Why didn't I think of that?"
THE PORTABLE WATER STERILIZER is a pen-shaped device that
zaps harmful bacteria and other micro-organisms in drinking water.
The lab-certified water sterilizer's inventor, Helmut Froeber, is a
retired engineer from Irvine, Calif. He told me that the water
sterilizer is ideal for campers, the military, travelers and anyone
who doesn't have access to clean drinking water. The people who need
it the most, though, are those who live in Third World countries.
More than 1 billion people worldwide live without clean drinking
water, according to Froeber.
THE SAFETY EGG is a revolutionary child safety seat. This
egg-shaped device rolls over on its axis like a Ferris wheel to
absorb the impact of a head-on collision, and it rolls over sideways
on its axis during a side-angle collision. The safety egg's inventor
is self-described "tinkerer" John Guenther of Chicago, who says,
"Each year there are 200 deaths and 20,000 injuries because of the
shortcoming in car seat design. Car seats were introduced to the
market about 25 years ago, and they haven't changed much since
THE KITCHEN MAGICIAN is the latest brainchild of a father of
two, Ken Tarlow of San Francisco. Nicknamed the "Swiss Army knife
for kitchen utensils" by Tarlow, it uses hidden-compartment design
to conceal its 20 individual utensils, including a knife, spatula,
roasting fork and basting brush. It's ideal for apartment dwellers,
the military, Boy Scouts and, of course, kids who are away at
college. Of these five award-winning inventors, Ken probably has the
coolest job of all. Ken also designs 400 products for clients such
as Ron Popeil (Ronco) and The Sharper Image.
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in this article]
THE EMERGENCY LIGHT BLANKET protects motorists when they have
to change a flat tire or when they have engine trouble. The blanket,
with flashing arrows built into it, attaches to the back of any car
or truck and signals oncoming motorists to go around you. It is
highly visible during the daytime, and its bright LED lights can be
seen from miles away at night. People have been changing flat tires
along the road since -- well, since cars were first invented -- but
it's taken more than 100 years for someone to invent this product.
Inventor Pepper Aasgaard of Omaha told me that his wife inspired him
to invent it after he saw an accident on the way home from a
University of Nebraska football game. The emergency light blanket
could have prevented that accident.
THE ENTER-TRAINER EXERCISE DEVICE is a "heart monitor which
controls entertainment devices," according to its inventor, a
45-year-old father of three, Joe Volpe of Philadelphia. This nifty
little electronic gadget turns any treadmill or exercise bike into a
virtual power generator for the TV, stereo and video game devices.
The best part of this story is the fact that the idea for the
EnterTrainer came from -- and I'm not making this up -- the episode
of "Gilligan's Island" in which the professor made a bike that
powered the radio. It's OK to admit that you remember that episode;
we all do.
You can see what these five revolutionary inventions look like at
Paul Niemann is the author of
"Invention Mysteries -- The Little-Known Stories Behind Well-Known
Inventions." He can be reached at
© Copyright Paul Niemann 2004