Invention that needed no specialist knowledge yet was used by the masses.

Which is a recent invention that fulfils the following criteria

Within the past 10 years
Needed no specialist knowledge by the inventor ie: did not need an engineering degree for eg or extensive knowledge of science.
Invention has appealed to the masses and made a lot of money for the inventor as a result.
Resulted in a successful patent


The Snuggie certainly meets your criteria. I don’t know how many people use them but over 20 million were sold in the first year alone.

My Pillow

Would a medical tool for childbirth, invented by a car mechanic qualify?

The Wikipedia articles suggest that neither was developed within ten years, though. But if the OP is flexible on that requirement, then I’d suggest the Miracle Mop, the product developed by Joy Magano. This was developed in 1990, though.

I’m not sure if the OP has something in mind, and we’re supposed to guess what it is, or if they’re just looking for something to meet the criteria. If so, I’d suggest looking at the archives of the television program Shark Tank. Some of the products shown are inventions created by non-professionals.

No i have nothng in mind. Although modifying a garment to make a snuggle or adding new fillings in a pillow was not what i would call an invention.

Surely there must be something out there, recent, which was a radical yet simple change, with not a lot of investment but created a iconic new thing.

Or maybe there are no simple inventions anymore. It’s all high tech loadsamoney world.

Some of the cell phone cases are pretty low tech, I have no idea who invented them. Some have batteries, that’s pretty cool.

It depends what you mean by “needing” specialist knowledge. Even the Snuggie had to be designed to meet federal standards for flame retardance and what not, which certainly requires specialist knowledge.

In the United States, patents can only be granted if the invention is “non-obvious.” Of course, this requirement is subject to disagreement and litigation – but it is a requirement, so the the last requirement in the OP’s criteria will likely prevent any inventions from meeting the others.

This list of 10 patents that launched billion-dollar businesses is mostly fairly high-tech stuff, but it also includes the SolarCity solar tech financing system (patent application 2008) and the GoPro camera body harness (patent application 2004, so only slightly outside the OP’s time window), which appear to be less specialist-dependent.

No way do I believe that all the good low-tech inventions have already been used. You wait till I build the prototype of mine that I’ve been thinking about for years, for example. That baby’s gonna make millions. :slight_smile:

I doubt that the Selfie Stick is particularly high-tech…

On consideration, the SoundBender probably qualifies, though the manufacturing processes involved certainly require considerable expertise.

That was going to be my suggestion too.

There was in a thread here a few years back in which we discussed the last “major” inventions created by people who were basically talented amateurs or hobbyists with an idea and I recall it being mentioned the hovercraft and the early Gates/Jobs/Wozniak-era garage-built computers were probably the last “significant” things which someone who wasn’t working with major backing could be said to have invented.

Since that thread was over five years ago, I’d add “commercial drones” to that list now; I’m sure the military was involved in their design somewhere too but the basic concept (basically a radio controlled helicopter with a camera) is absolutely doable by a talented hobbyist in their garage and I’d be surprised if that wasn’t where they came from initially.

If modifying a garment doesn’t count as an invention, does putting plastic around a battery pack count?

Outside of the 10 year window but wheeled luggage was definitely one of those “wait, nobody ever thought of this before?” kind of inventions. It was invented in 1987.

Why are you all answering this question? This is obviously being asked by a time traveler who is going to destroy our timestream by inventing the Snuggie several years too early!!!

So Heinlein had any pre-invention to go along with the waterbed? In Stranger in a Strange Land, published in 1964, he posits a large luggage bag with “Red Cap” casters (which left marks in the live grass carpet in Ben Caxton’s living room).

He predicted the Internet in 1938, and the addictive qualities of web-surfing in 1983, ten years before the invention of the World Wide Web. Also, mobile phones, but Dick Tracy had those, too. Video phones, even. All of which are out of scope for this thread, but there you go.

I concur with the statement that if there was a product whose concept was derivable by an “everyman”, that it probably would not qualify for patent protection, even if it was a billion-dollar industry. I suspect that it would be found to be “obvious”, and that its success was merely due to marketing; other people presumably would have thought of the idea before, but no one thought it was actually worth anything and so didn’t pursue it.

For instance, my grandmother claims she thought of the idea of selling fake Christmas trees with lights pre-strung decades before anyone actually started doing so. I would find it hard to believe that she’s the only one who came up with such an idea after being frustrated with putting the lights back on the tree every year when that’s the only place they’d ever be. Now, there might be some technical details about how you do such a thing and have it survive transportation, storage, etc, that my grandmother never would have realized or solved, and if such things were non-trivial to figure out, then the product as a whole might be patentable. But just the idea to sell fake Christmas trees with lights pre-strung doesn’t seem “non-obvious”.

The coffee cup sleeve sells about a billion units a year and is covered by a patent. It doesn’t meet the 10 year requirement, though. It was patented in 1995 and invented in 1991.