Unexpectedly Intriguing!
29 May 2020

Hugo Gernsback was a certified, bonafide, totally legitimate inventor with 21 patents to his credit issued between the years 1920 and 1955. He's also the man who, as a publisher, established science fiction as an independent literary form - today's annual Hugo awards for science fiction literature are named after him.

But it is his conceptual creation of "The Isolator", an invention he doesn't appear to have ever sought to patent, but which he wrote about in the July 1925 edition of Science and Invention magazine, that has caught the Invention in Everything team's fancy today because of its potential to solve a very different problem than the one for which it was conceived.

The problem it could solve today is of how workers can go back on the job without having to worry about exposure to the coronavirus from other potentially infected workers. But as you can see in the following illustration, it would also solve the problem of helping workers focus on their work without distraction, which is the problem the invention was originally intended to address.

The Isolator by Hugo Gernsback: The author at work in his private study aided by the Isolator. Outside noises being eliminated, the worker can concentrate with ease upon the subject at hand.

The modern day equivalent of Gernsback's Isolator is the Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR), a technology that featured prominently in a recent edition of IIE.

In fact, if you want to make a modern day Isolator, start with a PAPR, attach a cover with eye holes to the face mask to narrow the field of view to be similar to Gernsback's original Isolator concept, and there's no reason for today's workers cannot both go back to work and be more productive with the technology we have on hand today!

Like many inventive geniuses, Gernsback's vision was far, far ahead of his time. Perhaps that time has finally arrived.

Inventions in Everything: The 2020 Archive

If you're just catching up with Inventions in Everything, follow the links below to our features in 2020, the first of which will also take you to links to our older stories of ingenuity and invention.

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