As you no doubt heard, we had somewhere between 50 and 50 million inches of snow in Washington, D.C., this winter. All a person could do for much was sit around and look at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's website for inventions that could make all this snow more bearable next year.
Something like underwear with built-in gloves
Two women from Ohio "“ which had its own share of snow trauma this year - were recently granted a patent for an undershirt with built-in mittens, to protect a person against frostbite by making sure there is no exposed skin in the wrist/hand area, and to protect the same person against losing another pair of gloves. You can hear a mother's lament in the patent application: "Gloves and mittens traditionally have the disadvantages of needing to be carried separately from the coat or jacket, and so frequently are lost." The application then describes other glove-securing devices "“ like strings and grommets "“ and why these devices need to be improved on. They are cumbersome, and "“ worse "“ they don't prevent skin from encountering winter. It is convincing (obviously, since the patent was granted). The one drawback: according to the patent application, the garment is really only meant for children. Luckily, I'm small. It's on sale here.
Battery powered heated eyewear
But wait, my face is still cold, even though my tiny child-like hands are now warm. Four words solve that problem: Battery powered heated eyewear. A man from Michigan was granted a patent for said heated eyewear in 2008. The patent application makes clear the versatility of this invention, establishing that "eyewear" may mean prescription or non-prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses, goggles, helmets, or "any other type of apparatus that may be worn by a wearer for any conceivable purpose such as for skiing, skydiving, hunting, paintball or other entertainment or interactive games, safety, combat, infrared or night-vision, driving or riding vehicles, welding or any other type of construction work, any type of laboratory work, police work, space travel, etc." Space travel? These glasses are not only practical, but exciting!
A motorized snowboard
Since civilian space travel surely won't happen while the airports are shut, it's best to think of staying warm while riding atop a motorized snowboard that functions like a motorized scooter, but it works on snow and it's obviously cooler. An Indiana man was granted the motorized snowboard patent in 2004 "“ and one fails to understand why motorized snowboards have not taken off. Where are the flying motorized snowboards we were promised?
Our needs are closer to the ground right now, though, and with the cars that need to be dug out we look for the most inventive of snow shovels. The patent office database has many promising snow-shovel related patents: this one is for a shovel with a flexible blade that is designed not to scratch cars; another is for a two-handled show shovel; a third has a rough surface and a "foot receiving recess member" that appears to be a place for your foot to go so you don't kick the blade and break the shovel. Which is very useful, considering that pile of broken shovels we've kicked into submission.