The Ig Nobel Prizes are a parody of the Nobel Prizes and are given each year for ten unusual achievements in scientific research. The stated aim of the prizes is to “honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think”. The awards are sometimes a satire, but are also used to point out that even the most absurd-sounding avenues of research can yield useful knowledge. These awards are often given by actual Nobel laureates at a ceremony held every year at Harvard University. The ceremony itself is very funny, do check the videos of past ceremonies available on their website.
Here are the top 10 patents for which Ignoble has been awarded.
1. Award in the category VISIONARY TECHNOLOGY was awarded to Jay Schiffman of Michigan in 1993 for inventing AutoVision, which is basically an image projection device that makes it possible to drive a car and watch television at the same time. It is always nice to get some entertainment while driving. The prize was also awarded to the Michigan state legislature for making AutoVision legal. (US Patent Number 5,061,996)
2. Managed Health Care prize was awarded posthumously to George and Charlotte Blonsky in 1999 for conceiving an apparatus for Facilitating Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force. (US Patent Number 3,216,423)
3. In 1999, Ignoble in the PEACE category was awarded to Charl Fourie and Michelle Wong of South Africa, “for inventing an automobile burglar alarm consisting of a detection circuit to detect a burglar and then activating a flamethrower to burn the burglar. (WIPO Patent Application Number WO/1999/032331)
4. Despite the warning “Don’t re-invent the wheel”, people continue to do so. In 2001, John Keogh from Australia filed a patent for a wheel and the Australian Patent Office surprisingly granted the Innovation Patent to him. So, the ignoble was awarded jointly to John and to the Australian Patent Office in 2001. (Australian Patent Application Number 2001100012)
5. In 2004, the ENGINEERING prize was awarded to Donald J. Smith and his father, the late Frank J. Smith, of USA, for patenting a method of concealing partial baldness. (US Patent Number 4,022,227)
6. In 2005, medicine prize was awarded to Gregg A. Miller of USA for inventing Neuticles. They are artificial replacement testicles for dogs. Miller believes dogs psychologically and emotionally need their testicles, whether or not the sex organ is producing any testosterone. (US Patent Number 5,868,140)
7. The economics prize in 2007 was awarded to Kuo Cheng Hsieh from Taiwan, for patenting a device that catches bank robbers by dropping a net over them. (US Patent Number 6,219,959)
8. The CHEMISTRY PRIZE was awarded to a group of Japanese researchers in 2009. They invented and patented a wasabi alarm, that sprays airborne wasabi to awaken sleeping people in case of a fire or other emergency. (US Patent Application Number 2010/0308995 A1)
9. Ignoble in PUBLIC HEALTH category was awarded to Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of USA in 2009, for inventing a bra that could be converted in One or More Facemasks when required. (US Patent Number 7,255,627)
10. In 2013, the SAFETY ENGINEERING PRIZE awarded to late Gustano Pizzo from USA for inventing an electro-mechanical system to trap airplane hijackers. The system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the encapsulated hijacker through the airplane’s specially-installed bomb bay doors. The hijacker then parachutes to earth, where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival. (US Patent Number 3,811,643)