Celebrity Invention: Francis Ford Coppola's Itch-Locating T-Shirt

big patents_300.jpgSome celebrities aren't just pretty faces. A few of them are also touched with that Yankee prowess for tinkering and invention. In this weekly series, we introduce you to the Patents of the Rich and Famous. 

Inventor: Francis Ford Coppola

You Know Him From: A critically acclaimed producer, director, and screenwriter, Francis Ford Coppola had dominated that whole film industry scene by his mid-thirties. After winning a bunch of Oscars for his Godfather films, American Graffiti, and Patton, Coppola figured anything he touched would turn into little golden statuettes. And right he was. While he maintained one hand in the film industry, Coppola took a logical turn into the wine/pasta-sauce/resort/storytelling/shopping business with the creation of his lifestyle brand: Francis Ford Coppola Presents.

When he's not crushing grapes, tomatoes or his Academy Award competition, Coppola also serves as "Honorary Consul H. E. Ambassador Francis Ford Coppola" for Belize.

Invented Apparatus: "A garment for identifying location on body of the garment wearer"

Thumbnail image for Turtle copyedit.png

It's a t-shirt with a turtle on it. But not just any turtle, a turtle with numbers on its shell.

The numbered grid uniquely marks different regions of the shirt so that its wearer can identify a particular part of his/her own body to a friend, family member or significant other.

The present invention comprises a garment having printed thereon a figure comprising uniquely identifiable regions that when worn permit the wearer to identify for a third party a particular location on the wearer's body.

Rationale Behind Invention:

All patent application filers need to demonstrate why their new invention is novel and worthwhile. What makes this shirt special? Coppola argues it will improve your daily life with this hilariously detailed sketch of the travails of backscratching:

For example, scratching an itch is a very common task in every day life. It can be especially difficult, however, for a person to scratch his or her own itch when the location of the itch is in a hard-to-reach spot such as the back. Presently, absent a device such as a scratching stick, a person with an itch in a hard-to-reach location must ask a second part to scratch the itch. This, in turn, requires orienting the second-party-scratcher by using a series of directions, which are often being misunderstood by the second party. For example, these instructions might include "Could you scratch lower? To the left...No, the other left. Now, down lower. To the right. No, no...Too far! Back to the left." This situation may arise for people in normal health and dexterity or for people with limited flexibility, such as those having spinal injuries that prevent them from bending or twisting to any significant degree.

Thus, there is a need for an object that assists a person in precisely identifying a location on the person's own body for a second party. [emphasis added]

Haven't you always yearned for a backscratching assistance device?

Off Label Uses:

Somehow, we don't think it's just backscratching that would get a boost from "an object that assists a person in precisely identifying a location on the person's body for a second party." Coppola's "preferred embodiment" of the garment is constructed "such that the wearer can feel the touch of another person through the fabric." Francis, you're not fooling anyone here! Backscratching? Right.  

Future Directions for Research:

Embed some touch-sensitive electronics, a small memory chip, and a WiFi antenna, and you could have a dataset of all the itches your second party ever scratched. Take some simple data visualization and you'd have a backscratching (or whatever) heatmap in no time.


Presented by

Rebecca Greenfield is a former staff writer at The Wire.

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