March 2010

Inventor Portrait: William Walsh

March 26, 2010

Part of a continuing series of inventor portraits.

Inventor: William Walsh
Invention: Convertible Pizza Box
Patent: No. 7,051,919
Brand Name: Greenbox

The Green Box is a brand of environmentally friendly food containers. The inaugural product, the Green Box Pizza, is made from 100% recycled materials and features several patented design elements. The top half is perforated to split up into 4 plates. The bottom half folds up into a container for storing leftovers.

William Walsh Greenbox

Will says that back in college he and his housemates were watching football and eating pizza, and nobody was using plates. So he tore up a pizza box and handed out improvised plates. His housemates were amazed, but he dismissed it, assuming everybody did that. He says, “I thought it was standard operating procedure.” Ten years later, people were similarly amazed when he tore up a pizza box at a friend’s daughter’s birthday party. This time, with the wisdom of a business degree and a minor in mechanical engineering, he decided there might actually be a way to turn this practice into a business.

William Walsh Greenbox

“I went to a local restaurant, I bought 50 or 100 pizza boxes — the guy thought I was out of my mind — and an exacto knife, and a straightedge ruler. I spent 3 or 4 days in my apartment creating different options, like different alternatives how I could utilize this base material to do something else… I came up with 4 or 5 different designs, and I took the best function from each design and came up with this current design.”

William Walsh Greenbox

Now I’m hungry.

Inventor Portrait: David Palmer

March 16, 2010

Part of a continuing series of inventor portraits.

Inventor: David Palmer
Invention: Massage Chair
Patent: No. 4,746,167

You’ve seen the offspring of David Palmer’s invention in shopping malls and convention centers around the world. In 1986, he debuted the first portable massage chair. It was heavy, and made of wood. It collapsed down to a “chair-in-a-box” for portability. The modern incarnation is much lighter, more comfortable, and even more portable.

Here’s David relaxing in an early version of the massage chair:

David Palmer

And in the modern version:

David Palmer

David explains why he’s in the massage field: “I’m focused on making touching a positive social value in our culture. It’s what I call the orphan sense. We’ve got five primary senses and of them the one that’s been ignored most — by academia in terms of research, by the media in general, by society in general — is definitely touch. Touch has the most negative associations attached to it and I’m out to change that because I think that touch is essential to our health and well-being, to our development as children, as infants, and it’s long overdue that we take the pathological aspects of touch and turn them into something positive. We’ve got a very pathological relationship as a culture to touch. And that’s mostly manifest in our relationship to sexuality in this culture. So I’m out to make touch something that is much more comfortable for people at large, and also something that people can utilize in their daily lives for their health and well-being. I think that massage is something that should be in every home, that family massage as it’s done in certain cultures, like the Japanese culture for example, is something that should be taught in every grade school as far as I’m concerned. That’s a basic life skill that people should have.”