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Sun towel mask

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Illustration: Sam Griffin
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.

US Patent 7,051,371, filed in August 2003

Beachwear has come a long way since the prim togs of the early 20th century, when the mere glimpse of a sultry, salty kneecap could get you locked up for the evening. Today, of course, you need only glimpse schoolies week on the Gold Coast to grasp how far we’ve come in the flesh flashing stakes.

Yet our liberation from Victorian era social mores has come at a cost. Skin + sun = cancer. Despite ongoing public awareness campaigns to “slip, slop, slap”, Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.

Undeniably, part of the problem is vanity. But we’re also working with inadequate tools. Sun cream is a hassle to apply and reapply, and hats, umbrellas and other items only provide partial protection.

Enter US Patent 7,051,371: the Sun Towel Mask.

The fruit of collaborative inspiration from Illinois inventors Joan Tobin and Katharine McAndrews, the Sun Towel Mask is one of those shrewd ‘ends justifies the means’ offerings. No fancy technology here. Just a towel, a pair of scissors and some sensible thinking.

According to the patent abstract: “By including eye, nose and mouth slits, the sun mask towel allows users to see, speak and breathe easily. The sun mask towel effectively shields a user’s face, head, neck, and in one embodiment, a user’s entire body from the harmful rays of the sun.”

Earlier prototypes omitted the seeing, speaking and breathing holes, but alpha testers kept getting mistaken for crime scene victims.

Overnight, the Sun Towel Mask banished the scourge of unseemly tan lines – except, of course, around the eyes, nose and lip regions. It also allowed Ku Klux Klan members to meet in broad daylight without the worry of being chastised for looking different.

In fact, if all beach goers were wearing a Sun Towel Mask, the Cronulla riots could have been avoided. Perhaps they should have been standard issue with every slab of VB, instead of a Boonie doll.

Just don’t attempt to make a Sun Towel Mask yourself. That’s a proprietary design, you hear?

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