Acquiring Minds: 2014 Local Invention Roundup 

As always, inventors from the Richmond region registered hundreds of patents through the year. And as usual, the giants of industry in the area spit out one idea after another.

Hamilton Beach came up with at least three new designs for slow cookers, each imperceptibly different than the ones that came before it.

Inventors at Philip Morris laid claim to all manner of new horrific-sounding nicotine delivery systems, including aerosol sprays, tobacco rod casings and flavored, chewable pouches.

The folks at Genworth Financial pumped out really boring-sounding financial products, such as a “system and method for guaranteeing minimum periodic retirement income payments using an adjustment account.”

Here are excerpts from the patents on other innovations that came out of the region in 2014:

A yard flag holder with a light mounted to it.

Inventors: Timothy A. Lamm (Midlothian), Evergreen Enterprises of Virginia

Abstract: A support for a decorative item includes a stanchion with a first end and a second end. A flexible neck, having a first end and a second end, is connected to the second end of the stanchion at a first end thereof. A luminary is connected to the second end of the flexible neck to provide illumination to the decorative item.

Bottom line: Decorative yard flags are great — except at night when no one can see the darn things. Light up that little nylon flag with a snowflake or whatever on it.


A chestnut shelling machine

Inventor: Auzville Jackson Jr. (Richmond)

Abstract: A nut shelling apparatus and method for the shelling of nuts such as chinquapins and chestnuts without substantially damaging the meat of the nuts. The rotating abrasive disc utilizes the resistive inertia of the nuts to launch the nut in an upward direction and causing the nuts to fall onto the abrasive surface to repeatedly cut the shells.

Bottom line: Forget roasting over open fires. Who doesn’t just want to shell chestnuts without “substantially damaging the meat”?


A rocking car seat for babies.

Inventors: Brian Stephen Harding (Midlothian), Ashley Baka Harding (Midlothian), James A. Doerr (Richmond)

Abstract: A device for imparting a rocking motion to a rockable object having a curved bottom surface comprises a wedge-shaped housing and a reciprocating drive mechanism. The reciprocating drive mechanism alternatingly moves the distal end of the upper housing upward to an extended position and downward to a retracted position.

Bottom line: Babies cry and sometimes rocking provides mercy for your ears. And any desperate parent knows the magic of a good car ride.


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