Kathy Pieper says other devices are complicated and barbaric. By contrast, she says, the suppository delivery method she and her friend Karen Higgins invented offers a hygienic and straightforward approach to getting medication into … there.
"You don't even have to put on a glove — you just peel back the packaging and insert it," says Pieper, a nurse who lives in Midlothian.
Higgins and Pieper's innovation represents one of a few hundred patents issued to Richmond area inventors and companies in 2012. The bulk of patents approved in any given year are so specific and industrial that it's difficult to understand or care what they might accomplish. For example, the local Philip Morris research and development department is responsible for many, with titles along the lines of "Method and apparatus for producing composite cigarette filters."
But every year a few ideas work their way through the U.S. government patent office that excite. Here are three that caught our eye:
1. Suppository Delivery Device.
Inventors: Karen D. Higgins, Richmond; Kathleen K. Pieper, Midlothian.
Abstract: A suppository delivery device that allows for the insertion of a suppository without having contact with the suppository or a rectum. The suppository delivery device includes a stabilizing platform, a stabilizer to which the suppository is mounted, and a package, which protects the user's hands and fingers from the suppository and rectum and prevents germs from contacting the suppository before being inserted into the rectum.
Bottom line: No more handling slippery, greasy suppositories. Set it and forget it.
2. Slow Cooker With Built-In Spoon Rest
Local inventors: David Schandel of Richmond for Hamilton Beach Brands Inc. of Glen Allen.
Abstract: A kitchen appliance for heating foodstuff includes a container defining a heating cavity therein. The kitchen appliance includes a utensil for manipulating the foodstuff. A sliding tray positioned within a portion of the container doubles as a utensil compartment.
Bottom line: Wrestling with the spoon? Boom. No more.
3. Recreational Bone Conduction Audio Device
Local inventor: Sheldon M. Retchin, Richmond, for Virginia Commonwealth University.
Abstract: An update to a waterproof recreational audio device and method that transmits sound through the jaw via bone conduction and provides high-fidelity musical signals to a user.
Bottom line: Retchen, the chief executive of VCU Health System, says this is the best way for him to rock out while swimming laps.