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Freelance consultant, learning facilitator, and writer, founder of extreme-inventing.com, ooleee.net (with artist Gary King), knowledgecafe0151. Teach technology entrepreneurship at School of Engineering at University of Liverpool, UK. I have a longstanding and avid interest in Technology as a unique human phenomenon. I'm actively engaged in research on how enterprising individuals shape material culture through inventing and innovating, with palaeoanthropologists at the Dept. of Archaeology, Egyptology and Classics, also at University of Liverpool.

Table: Weight

I was in the Design Museum this week in Shad Thames, London. What a disappointment it was too. There was, however, something of a feature made of the now familiar anglepoise lamp ( a design classic apparently, like lace up shoes and Apple’s Bondi Blue iMac ). Anyway, the history of innovating the original invention has thrown up yet another example of extreme inventing, or should that be extreme innovating ( I think it should). In the best examples of extreme inventing (which, of course, is just ordinary inventing with a catchy name) the property of a found object is incorporated into what then becomes a new system. The original anglepoise lamp sits on, or fits into, a heavy base. This acts as a counterbalance. I few years ago I bought an anglepoise type lamp from IKEA (see pics), but instead of the weighty base it had a means of fastening the lamp to the edge of a table or desk, which then acted as the weight. Clever eh?

tertial-work-lamp__40088_PE079702_S4This saves IKEA money and energy transporting the lamp from maker to store (although weighty bases were available as optional extras) and so, arguably, makes it a greener product.   The new system makes use of the ‘heaviness’ or mass property of the table. In other words, the whole table (or a wall) acts as a counter weight. This might also be considered an example of emergent functionality in the following sense. A lamp goes on a table or desk, which is heavy (normally). Why not dispense with the heavy base of the original and use the weight of the table upon which the lamp always sits? In most design modifications, there is a risk of losing some usefulness or functional effectiveness while gaining something else. In this case, the user loses the usefulness of being able to conveniently shift the lamp from one location on a desk to another.


Here’s another extreme invention based on the original angle poise invention. Read more here. Note, this is not an innovation of a lamp, but an invention. While not being a completely new mechanism, it is now a flexible means of adjusting the location of the camera. Interestingly, the camera takes in light and the lamp gives it out.


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