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Inventing the 20th century at the British Library.

In a celebration of British ingenuity, the British Library is exploring the stories behind some of the most iconic inventions of the century's first decade.

Whether they are changing the world of sport, fighting climate change, or just making life a bit easier, each inventor has challenged the established way of doing things. From Dyson's revolutionary bladeless fan to President Obama's favourite dog bowl, trace the journey of an idea from that first spark of inspiration to the development of a business. See original drawings, patent specifications and the finished products.

Workshops, seminars and an exhibition will be taking place until 28 November.


The exhibition

Samuel Houghton: The double-headed broom

Invented by three year old Samuel, this broom clears up different sizes of rubbish simultaneously.

Alvin Smith: Searaser

A power generator that uses just the motion of waves to create energy. 11,000 units could create enough electricity to supply the entire UK at a quarter of the cost to the customer.

Richard Thorpe: GoCycle

A lightweight, folding, electric bicycle. The idea was conceived by ex-Formula1 race car designer Richard Thorpe.


Tanya Ewing: Ewgeco

A gas, electricity and water usage monitor for homes and businesses. After installation in one Primary school, Ewgeco reduced energy costs by [pounds sterling]22,000.

Mike Spindle: The K2 All-Terrain Trekinetic

A revolutionary new all-terrain wheelchair with a modern design.


Michael Pritchard: The Lifesaver bottle

A portable pump-action water purifier that even filters out viruses and bacteria, to create safe, clean drinking water.


Natalie Ellis: The Road Refresher Dog Bowl

A dog bowl that is designed for your pet to use in the car on a journey without spilling water.


Sharon Wright: Magnamole

Dragon's Den winning DIY device that makes it quick, safe and easy to pass cables through cavity walls.

Jim Shalkh: Yoomi

A rechargeable, self-warming baby bottle. It heats baby feed to the correct temperature every time, wherever you are, in just one minute.


Dyson's Air Multiplier

This design amplifies air over an aerofoil hoop to create a smooth, powerful, un-buffeted blast of air for drying.


Douglas Anderson: Optomap Retinal Scanner

It uses an uses an ellipsoidal mirror to reflect laser beams and provide high-resolution scans and has helped over 24 million individuals since it was developed.

Fiona Fairhurst & Jane Cappaert: Speedo LZR Racer Swimsuit

Inspired by the natural design of shark skin. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics 94% of all swimming races were won by competitors wearing this now banned swimming suit.

Howard Stapleton: Mosquito Security System

Designed to prevent teenagers loitering in public places, this device emits an annoying high-pitched pulse which can only be heard by younger individuals. Visit the Compound Security Systems

Mark Sheahan: Popi Packaging

Designed for use by those with arthritic problems, this easy-to-open packaging solution is now used in a wide variety of confectionery and cosmetic products. Mark Sheahan is the Business & IP Centre's Inventor in Residence and offers one-to-one sessions to aspiring inventors.


Yusuf Mohammad & Paul Thomas: Automist

A water mist based fire suppression system which mounts just underneath a standard kitchen tap.

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Title Annotation:WHAT'S HAPPENING?
Publication:Engineering Designer
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 1, 2010
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