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Speed Read: Reinventing the wheel. Er, the tape measurer.

I’ve been telling everyone I know about this one. So simple and obvious, yet revolutionary.

Jeff Burns has worked in construction his whole life. But he always had a hobby, one that, until recently, wasn’t exactly paying off:

He was a part-time inventor.

Burns didn’t really think anything would come of it when he entered himself into a contest, the DIY Network’s first-ever “Cool Tools: Inventor Challenge.” But in the end, Burns took home the top prize, along with 10,000 dollars.

His invention? A new spin on a classic tool- The Tape Measurer.

Burns was tired of having to fold the tape measurer to get an exact result. Wouldn’t it be better, he thought, if there was a tape measurer that accounted for the length of the apparatus itself?

He calls it the “Speed Read.” It measures from the end of the measuring tape to the base of the tool itself. Rather than bending the tape, you look through a little window pane to see the exact measurement.

“I took a problem that I’ve had with using a tape measure and (fixed it),” Burns says.

The process took seven months, and more than 20 prototypes before he perfected the “Speed Read.”

He had originally planned on pitching the idea to tool companies, but when he came across the DIY Network’s Challenge, he thought, why not?

The “Speed Read” isn’t the only invention Burns has conjured up. He’s also sold a patent for a freezer storage system.

He’s been inventing in his spare time for over seven years.

And, while Burns isn’t the first person to try and improve the tape measurer, the “Speed Read” is one of the most intuitive, practical inventions I’ve seen in a long time.

You can read more about Burns and the “Speed Read” in this fantastic article.

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