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Most patents are dull. Some are less dull.

Case in point: Patent No. 9,840,315, issued this month to some of the folks at DEKA R&D in Manchester (but not Dean Kamen, whose name is often found on DEKA patents) for an intriguing contraption that would be attached to swimmer’s lower leg and provide extra thrust. The rather sketchy patent-office illustration is shown above. From the description:

The swimmer bends primarily at the knees with some contraction at the hips, forcing the propulsors 104 away from the body while being counteracted by the presence of the stabilizers 106, in a hybrid kicking/squatting motion. The force of this motion is transferred to the propulsors 104 and drives the propulsors 104 through the water in a downward motion. The swimmer then straightens their legs forcing the propulsors 104 in an upward motion against the resisting water. Given the constrains to the range of motion provided by the control mechanism 110 the propulsors 104 take an angle of attack with respect to their desired free position. This angle of attack allows the propulsors 104 to generate lift, which is then transferred to forward motion of the swimmer. As the swimmer continues this oscillating movement, a fishtail-like movement is created that propels the swimmer through the water.

I have no idea if this is something that DEKA actually plans to build, or to license for somebody else to build; I encountered it in a list of recent patents issued in New Hampshire. Maybe it’s just a cool idea that some DEKA engineers got while doing laps at the Y. Either way, it’s fun.

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