History has witnessed plenty of brilliant inventors coming up with incredibly complex inventions. Take the personal computer. It is a pretty complicated combination of hardware and software. Still, there is something to be said about simplicity. As complicated as some inventions can be, the simplest inventions are often the best inventions.
I admit to frequently seeing inventions and wondering why I didn’t think of them. I’m especially prone to such thoughts when an invention is based on a simple principle. To tell you the truth, I can think of lots of examples. Here are just a few:
1. The Cam Buckle
A cam buckle is a metal or plastic buckle that secures a webbing strap in place. Unlike a typical belt buckle that relies on a post-and-notch design, a cam buckle can be tightened with as much force as necessary thanks to a spring-loaded locking plate that digs into the webbing material and holds it secure.
The beauty of the cam buckle is that the cam distributes force as you pull the strap tighter. It is a lot like a pulley system but on a smaller scale. That said, the tie down manufacturers at Rollercam have taken the design and made it better. Instead of a stationary cam over which the strap travels, the Rollercam cam rotates. Not only does the design distribute force more evenly, but it also reduces friction.
Adding a rotating cam makes it possible to pull the strap tight with a very little effort. This reduces wear and tear on the strap as well as the user’s tendency to pull to tightly. It is a brilliantly simple design based on tried-and-true principles of physics.
2. The Geared Corkscrew
If the cam buckle is too complicated for you, consider the geared corkscrew. For starters, a standard corkscrew is about as simple as it gets. Yet whoever invented it came up with a brilliant way to remove corks from wine bottles. The only problem is that a standard corkscrew still requires a bit of muscle. Enter the geared corkscrew.
A geared corkscrew starts with the screw portion machined to accept gears on either side of the shaft. Those gears are attached to handles. As you insert the corkscrew into the cork and turn, the handles rise. Once the corkscrew is fully inserted and the handles fully raised, you simply set the bottle on a hard surface and push down on the handles. The gears pull the corkscrew up, pulling the cork out of the bottle. Brilliant!
3. The Paint Can Collar
We can go even simpler if you like. If you have ever painted your home, you know how messy paint cans can be. Pouring directly from the can into a paint tray leaves behind a mess, even if you are armed with a brush to quickly soak up excess paint dripping down the side of the can. Enter the paint can collar.
The paint can collar is a circular piece of plastic molded in such a way as to fit nicely inside the lip of a paint can. It has a shaped outer edge that forms what looks like a wide spout. The collar allows you to pour paint from a can the same way you would pour water from a glass or plastic pitcher. You are left with no drips, no leaks, and no mess to clean up. It is simple but absolutely brilliant.
I am no inventor myself, but I appreciate the beauty of simple inventions. When simple ideas lead to great things, I’m impressed. So much so that I often wonder why I wasn’t the one to think up such things.