Friday, 29 July 2016

The Unsung Heroes: Useful Inventions We Use Everyday

Unsung Heroes

Every day, we take things for granted. We don’t stop to marvel at the technology in our smartphones, or pause to think about the work that went into developing the materials that our cars are made of. But, every once in a while, it’s nice to actually give some thought to the unsung heroes that make our lives so much easier. Here are just a handful…

Seat belts
Granted, we all know how important seatbelts are (so it’s not as though they’re ‘unsung’ in the traditional sense), but did you know that the seatbelt you’ll use today has had a major remodel since it was first invented? Hunter Shelden was a neurosurgeon who realised that the major head trauma that passengers were experiencing in accidents was actually made worse by the current seatbelts of the time. In 1959, he revolutionised seat belts and made them so much safer than they used to be: it’s now estimated that seat belts save around 2,000 lives a year in the UK alone – something to thank Hunter Shelden for when you next buckle up!

Castors
Have you ever given any thought to those little swivelling wheels that are fixed to the base of furniture? Probably not, but if you’ve ever tried to move a heavy item without castors, you’ll have lamented their absence! Castors are useful in an incredibly diverse range of industries, from manufacturing to fire departments, airports and offices. Take hospitals for example: can you imagine beds, bedside tables, computer carts and IV poles without castor wheels fixed to the bottom of each of these vital pieces of equipment? Suppliers such as Tente castors provide wheels to all these industries and are probably one of the biggest unsung heroes on this list.

Infrared ear thermometers
As recently as twenty-five years ago, temperatures were taken by mercury thermometers. Unfortunately, these thermometers were difficult to read and highly poisonous if the thermometers broke. So, one clever company took advantage of the technology that NASA was producing to measure the temperature of stars from afar. Infrared sensors allow a sick patient to have a thermometer placed in their ear to give an accurate, safe reading in less than a couple of seconds, making medical diagnosis and treatment so much easier than it ever used to be.

Safety razors

Before the safety razor, a single, straight bare blade had to be used to remove unwanted hair. As you might imagine, this took a lot of skill to use and could have life-threatening results if you slipped (which is why men would visit the barbers to have their beads shaven). However, in the early 1900s, King Camp Gillette had the clever idea of putting a couple of blades together and adding a handle – a design that was widely used by American troops in World War 1. Later in the 1970s, the blades were embedded into disposable plastic so that razors were safer and easier for the public to use. So, next time you’re grooming from the comfort of your own home, think how much work has been done over the last hundred years to give you a close and comfortable shave!

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