Plucked From Obscurity: Eyeglass Wipers

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!

Inventive, yet under-publicized devices
by Marina Tsipis, Improbable Research staff

Innovation breeds innovation, perhaps unendingly, as these eyeglass-wiper patents demonstrate.

Karwowska's Eyeglass Wipers (1959)
"Eyeglass Wiper," U.S. patent 2888703, issued to Klara Karwowska of Canada, June 2, 1959. Karwowska describes her invention in one all-inclusive sentence that begins:

What is claimed is:

In combination, a pair of eyeglasses embodying a frame provided with a pair of lenses therein, wiper means for maintaining said lenses clean, said wiper means including first and second blades mounted for swinging movement across the surface of the lenses, pins pivotally connecting said blades to said frame, a cylindrical motor positioned contiguous to said frame, said motor being arranged adjacent one end of the frame and positioned rearwardly of the frame, a cylindrical battery carried by said frame and electrically connected to said motor, said battery being arranged adjacent the opposite end of the frame from the motor and said battery being arranged rearwardly of the frame, connecting means connecting said motor to said pair of blades, said last named means comprising a shaft driven by said motor, an eccentric connected to said shaft, a first link connected to said eccentric, said first link being connected to one of said wiper blades, a cross piece connecting said first and second blades together...

Detail from Karwowska's patent.

Menil's Eyeglass Wipers (1975)
"Spectacles, Goggles, and the Like," U.S. patent 3754298, issued to Raymond Louis Menil of France, August 28, 1973. The inventor offers this summary:

The present invention relates to spectacles and other optical instruments, comprising means for wiping or sweeping glasses or eyepieces. A particular application of the invention is in the construction of gadgets or toys in the form of practical jokes and hoaxes; another object of the invention is the manufacture of optical instruments which are intended to be used in a dirtying environment: in fog, rain, snow, smoke, in the laboratory, workshop and the like.

Detail from Menil's patent.

Scribner's Eyeglass Wipers (2003)
"Attachable Eyeglass Wipers," U.S. patent 6640379, issued to Ralph E. Scribner of the U.S., November 4, 2003. The inventor offers this summary:

A clip-on wipers are provided that attach to eyeglasses to prevent the buildup of raindrops or snow on the lenses. It attaches via a clip-on clamp thus allowing it to be removed when not needed. A battery pack, envisioned consisting of AAA batteries supplies power to a two-speed motor, via a control switch. The motor then drives a reciprocating mechanical linkage, which moves two small wiper blades across the surface of the lenses.

Scribner clarifies:

In operation, the present invention is affixed to the upper to the rear of each housing frame of any conventional eyeglasses by impinging the frame element between the front and rear contact grommets. In this manner, the wiper arms (30, 32) extend downward with the wipers (34) in contact with the front surface of the lenses. A power control (80) allows the user to turn on the control motor (22). The motor (22) rotates a worm drive (60)...

Detail from Scribner's patent.

Herring's Eyeglass Wipers (2008)
"Shades with Blades," U.S. patent 7364289, issued to James Oldham Herring of the U.S., April 29, 2008. The inventor offers this summary:

What is unique and special about my Shades with Blades is not only is it a safety necessity but also all working parts that make the wipers actually work are going to be hidden inside frames, making them look just like another bad ass pair of biker riding glasses until bad weather sets in. Now, no worry as long as you have a pair of Shades with Blades by James Herring, an old school biker who rides his Panhead year round. Be safe....

Detail from Herring's patent.

Herring then gives specifics:

FIG. 5 breaks down the components of the Shades with Blades. The working parts attach to the Front Piece frame (10); the micro-motor is labeled (2); the wiper blades (6); linkage over from micro-motor and disc to the wiper shaft (7); cam or disc that will operate the wipers (8); micro-wiper shaft (9) that the micro-wipers will pop onto. The wiper blades (6) are designed for quick release from the shaft (9) so the wiper blades can easily be replaced when they wear out.

(YouTube link)


The article above is republished with permission from the September-October 2013 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

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