Reinventing the Wheel: Who Says It Ain’t Broke?

| By Editorial Staff

We humans are an inventive and curious group. One look at our impressive résumés will prove how innovative we truly are. We conquered Mother Nature in numerous ways, thanks to the invention of the light bulb, air conditioners, and, of course, the original blanket with sleeves, the Slanket!

We’ve traveled to the depths of this planet, and to the world above our skies.

But as innovative as we are, we are equally hard to satisfy. No matter how impressive an innovation may be, over time we scrutinize it and look for ways to make it better.

Constant improvement is what we do, which is why it’s so amazing that there are still objects out there in the ether that have undergone few – if any changes – over the years.

The wheel. Bubble wrap. Rocking chairs. Legos.

Sure, there’ve been some aesthetic changes over time, (introducing the new and improved titanium version), but if you were given the original product, it’d still be able to get the job done.

That doesn’t mean we humans aren’t hungry to find ways to make it better. Here are three timeless inventions which, while still perfectly adequate in their original form, have been reinvented and reimagined, in the hopes that we could improve upon an already seemingly flawless invention.

Cutting to the chase with scissors

The earliest known scissors appeared in Mesopotamia nearly 4,000 years ago (in case you’re wondering, that’s long before Thomas Edison’s time). Throughout those thousands of years, the look of these paper cutters certainly has evolved, but you’d be surprised to discover just how similar, for example, a 2nd-century pair of bronze scissors from Turkey looks to today’s scissors.

But the Right Shears promises to be the first true modern twist on a timeless tool. Right Shears approaches the scissor design from a whole new angle: a 90-degree angle to be exact. Right Shears places the handle above the blades, which founder Shane Vermette claims makes his pair of scissors far more ergonomic-friendly.

Vermette’s Right Shears help to keep hands out of the way of the cutting patch, more so than some of the angled scissors we’ve seen in the market over the years. Of course, one problem Right Shears hasn’t addressed yet: making scissors friendly to all the lefties in the world. Right Shears’ handle design is ambidextrous, but the blade is geared to right-hand dominant people.

Take cover with umbrellas

Ancient art from Egypt, Greece, and China prove that umbrellas have been around for at least 4,000 years, although their initial purpose (as parasols) was to provide shade from the sun, mostly for wealthy folks.

Today, the basic look of the umbrellas has gone unchanged, although each year patents are submitted to make the umbrella even better.

One of the most common complaints folks have about umbrellas is that they perform poorly in high winds (which often accompany a heavy rainstorm). Seeing as the original purpose of the umbrella was to shield the sun, we can see why heavy winds wasn’t an issue to ponder.

But today, you can find umbrellas that can withstand storm winds of up to 60 miles per hour (if you’re out and about in winds stronger than that, you have other issues than drifting rain to contend with).

But still, even that wind-resistant umbrella looks and operates like its predecessors. That’s why it’s impressive to stumble upon the Kazbrella, which was designed to eliminate the annoying water dripping that occurs when you close your umbrella.

The Kazbrella closes and opens in reverse, helping to trap water on the inside, and allows you to avoid poking passers-by in the head when you close your umbrella. Invented by aeronautical engineer Jenan Kazim, the Kazbrella turns inside out, leaving the dry side of the canopy on the outside. To close it, you pull it up, instead of pulling it down.

Kazim came up with the idea when his mother-in-law complained about how her regular umbrella dripped water all over the floor of her house.

If the shoelace fits …

It’s hard to determine the exact origin of the shoelace, since ancient shoes were generally made of material that deteriorated. But the Areni-1 shoe, dating back to 3500 BC, featured leather shoelaces that cut through eyelets.

Since that time, shoes have gone on to enjoy a limitless amount of iterations, but shoelaces have seldom changed, aside from the material used to make them.

Sure, you can by shoes with Velcro straps, but unless you’re 7 and infatuated with My Little Pony or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Velcro shoes aren’t really “in.”

While shoelaces have performed admirably as a way to keep your shoes tight and secure, they certainly aren’t flawless. They come undone; they fray or snap; they don’t offer a perfect fit all the time.

These pain points are exactly why alternatives, like Hickies, have come to light. Hickies is a lacing system made from memory-fit elastomer. In other words, Hickies will expand and contrast with every movement your foot makes. The Hickies system is stretchable to fit all sizes and eliminates the need to make bunny years (Hickies laces snap together), meaning that tying your shoes might be less fun, but you’ll likely never have to worry about tripping over your laces.

Everything can be improved upon – never stop inventing

There are two typical adages used to describe taking on a project that’s a waste of time:

  • Why reinvent the wheel and,
  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

But true innovators realize that every invention that exists today can always be improved upon and redesigned from a different perspective. Our needs (and technology) are constantly changing, and with those changes comes the opportunity to breathe new light into seemingly perfect-as-can-be inventions that have withstood the test of time.

Do you find yourself hungry to invent something new, but not sure where to start? Why not take a look at some everyday objects around your house? What can you do to make it a little more modern, and a lot more effective?