BI-GOODNESS is a bi-monthly column dedicated to the quirky, generally funny and often dangerously impractical inventions and business concepts that occasionally come our way. It is a tribute to the one-eyed entrepreneur, the nutty professor and dotcom jockey in each of us.
In this virtual world where expert Xbox gamers gain B-grade celebrity while swathes of society believe that it is better to have loved and lost in an internet chat room than not to have loved at all, some things remain reassuringly real.
At a rock concert, for instance, you can sway back and forth playing air guitar with thousands of other wannabes. But it’s the band on stage with the real instruments – because (in most cases) they have talent.
Other really real things? The rise of China, the war in Iraq and that vocal Pomeranian next door.
All too often, someone attempts to impose his own curious reality on the one the rest of us are forced to share.
Take Lester J. Clancy, author of US patent 7,037,243 – the Cordless Jump Rope.
To his credit, Lester saw a market gap. There’s a skipping fiend in all of us, but most of us stifle the natural urge because we can’t get the hang of that pesky rope. Solution? Remove the rope and you grow the pie!
Pretty funny, right? Sadly, no. Scrutiny of the patent application finds it irony-free.
“To use the invention, a user holds a handle in each hand, and begins to simulate jumping rope while moving the handles in a circle with their hands and arms. The weighted ball or gear simulates the centrifugal action of a jump rope, thus delivering all the health benefits of jumping rope without any of the disadvantages of stumbling on the rope, having the rope hit the ceiling or the like.”
Now, caveat emptor (buyer beware) and all that. But is it really serendipity that the Cordless Jump Rope initially targets the two groups whose skipping prowess far outweighs their consumer acumen: schoolgirls and boxers?
Mind you, if you stumbled across Mike Tyson using one of these, you’d pretend there was a rope there too.
Such inspiration can be applied to other notoriously frustrating activities. Golf is a cinch without the ball (hole in one every time). In a ropeless game of tug-of-war, everyone wins. And dancing without music surely goes by another name.
Upon deeper contemplation, the Cordless Jump Rope was not a novel invention at all. Perhaps you recognise its latin name: Maracas.