Stuff I have invented which IBM didn't want to patent [0]

When I invent things, I have to disclose them to IBM. If they want to, and it’s within their field of business, IBM can patent the invention. I generally disclose everything (in order to CMA), as IBM’s business is more diverse than I know and they have a lot of lawyers. So I thought it might be interesting to share some of the ones IBM didn’t want.

First, let’s cover one I never thought was in IBM’s field: a modification to chalk bags as used in rock climbing. I’d bought a climbing harness and chalk bag from the same manufacturer and could not see how to attach the one to the other – both had fully-sewn loops on them. The manufacturer’s support team suggested using either (a) a second belt for the chalk bag, (b) a karabiner through both loops or (c) tying the two together with a bit of old cloth or rope.

Option (a) is a waste of weight and the second belt would be in the way. Option (b) rotates the bag through 90 degrees and lowers it by the length of the karabiner, both of which make it more difficult to get at. Option (c) has most of the same problems, and furthermore looks a bit crap.

By the way, I haven’t named the manufacturer because everyone who makes harnesses and chalk bags does so to the same unjoinable design; no point in singling anyone out for an entire industry’s problems.

My solution was to unpick the loop on the bag on the lower side and replace the join with Velcro. This allows me to fit it around the loops on my harness, which is goodness. My climbing friends are starting to perform similar surgery on their equipment, which I suppose means it wasn’t a bad idea.

It probably also slightly improves safety. Climbing gear in general could be made safer if anyone thought it was worthwhile; the problem is minor and quite complex, but this is my rambling space so I can go into it if I want.

All climbing equipment sold in the EU must state its maximum load in all orientations in which it’s designed to be used. In a fall, if the load on a component of the belaying system exceeds its stated limit it may break. But it may not, and that gives us a problem.

My main harness loop can take 23kN: if the force exerted to decelerate my mass and the mass of everything else attached to the harness exceeds that in a fall, I probably die.

My harness has a loop designed to take at least 10kN, which means a lot of stuff can be attached to it. I could be safer if I knew the least force guaranteed to break it. Suppose that value is 11kN. All I would need to do is make sure that there is enough mass on that loop to exceed 11kN at that loop before the total exceeds 23kN, then that loop will break before the main loop gets over 23kN in a fall and I can fall a bit further before it’s a lethal issue.

Anyway, my Velcro attachment is quite weak, so I expect to lose the chalkbag before getting near the harness limit. So I can safely fall very slightly further than someone who used a karabiner or a second belt. There’s probably all of 3mm in it…

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