Inventors and the People that Hate Them
Did you know that 1 million people suffer from bedsores annually?
Sounds painful, doesn’t it? Fortunately, 73-year-old David Jurus claims he’s found a way to prevent them completely.
While volunteering at a hospital, he watched on in horror as a patient suffered from excruciating bedsores. But Jurus wasn’t going to just sit back idly to watch someone suffer. That’s because Jurus is an inventor.
Technically, he’s a home-remodeler. But his passion is invention.
He went to work in his garage, tinkering for months, and finally came up with the AutoMedic Pressure Relief Bed.
The objective of the AutoMedic Pressure Relief Bed, according to Jurus, is “to take the pressure off the small capillaries, the tiny blood vessels, that get blocked and create the sores.”
It doesn’t look anything like a typical hospital bed. According to Phil Kadner’s profile on Jurus, the bed “resembles a xylophone, with 72 sponge-foam pads that look like slats spread across it. The slats move vertically in groups of 18 each, alternating going up and down by about 2.5 inches. All of the pads, operated electronically, change position every two minutes.”
The bed, Jurus says, can be built for half the cost of an orthopedic bed. But he’s still in need of funding, in order to study the effects and advantages of such a bed in a medical setting. “I know this thing will work” Jurus says. “But I need a grant, some research, to prove that my theory will work. Actually, I know it will work. I just need some financial help.”
The problem is common, and a bit sad. Anyone can come up with an idea. In fact, a lot of people just like Jurus do. But the funding to implement a plan, to bring an invention to life, is far more elusive. It might be why competitions for inventors, like the one Jeff Burns won in yesterday’s story, have become so popular. It’s a chance for your idea to be examined by experts, a chance for your invention to rise above the fray.
(NOTE: If you are an inventor looking for some funding, I found this article that provides some great tips.)
Let me quote Kadner’s article once more.
“Inventors take a lot of flak, a lot of abuse, and some people call us crackpots,” [said Jurus,] who had previously created the Potty Caddie, a device to alleviate the odor common in household toilets. “I’m willing to put up with all that abuse if I can bring something socially redeeming, something great into the world.”
That one made me stop and think.
Inventors take a lot of flak? Really? I always thought inventors were pretty cool. Granted, when I think of inventors, an image of Christopher Lloyd, hair white and frazzled, pops into my head. Of course, Back to the Future‘s “Doc Brown” might be part of the problem when it comes to the notion of inventors-as-crackpots. But this idea, that there’s a stigma against inventors, it intrigues me. And since tomorrow marks the end of our Inventor’s Showcase, I figure this is an issue I should address.
A quick search for “Attitudes towards Inventors” yielded very few items of note or promise. But it did unearth a few findings:
Looking at this poll, only 46% of the poll’s 1075 respondents took an “active interest” in inventions. And 65% of respondents believed that “there are too many inventions that are just gimmicks and do nothing to improve life.”
So not everyone is interested in inventions, and some believe that a majority of today’s inventions are superfluous.
Okay fine. But where is all of this supposed malevolence towards inventors? Does it exist? Luke Johnson seems to think there’s a definite ambivalence, according to his opinion piece:
“Society has a curious attitude towards inventors. Their brilliance over the centuries touches all of our lives in countless ways, yet we mostly take their efforts for granted. Indeed, more often than not in Britain we caricature them as eccentric boffins, like Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This ambivalence is a mistake; to me, they are perhaps the greatest heroes of all.
Taken for granted, maybe. Still, I find it almost impossible to believe that inventors are looked down upon in our society. Granted, it takes a special someone to be an inventor. Maybe even a slightly crazy person with equally crazy hair, if Back to the Future is to be considered a legitimate point of reference (It is).
Perhaps the problem lies in the issue of funding. Being rejected for funding, having your idea fundamentally ignored, day in and day out, by the people with cash, the people with the power to make your dream a reality, it can definitely start to feel like the world is against you, like you’re part of a tribe that’s always getting the short end of the stick.
One thing I know for certain: the next time I’m at a party or event and someone asks me what I do for a living, I will tell them I am an inventor. If they ask, I will list off several mundane and inessential inventions that I’ve created, and I will gauge their reaction. Even if this doesn’t prove anything, it will at least give me something to talk about.
But what I really want to know is what you think. Leave a comment. Tell me your opinion. Do you look down on inventors? Do you consider them modern-day heroes? Do you even care?
Inventors, do you feel spurned by society? Idolized? Ignored?
Personally, after covering incredibly unique devices and contraptions for the last month, there’s no way I can’t have a deep respect for these people.
Two days ago, a friend was visiting me from out of town. He asked me, “Do you ever feel like your mission in life is to create one thing, one product? Something so obvious and useful, something that, for some reason, hasn’t been invented yet?”
I didn’t even miss a beat. “No,” I told him. “But I love writing about people like that.”
And I do. Tomorrow, our month-long Inventors Showcase will be coming to a close. We’ll wrap things up by chatting with inventor/entrepreneur Marc Newburger.