Ananova brings news of a strong candidate for the Wacky Invention of the Year prize. A German artist has invented a machine that automatically dishes out comfort to people in distress. The invention, "Comfort XxL", has been made out of an old slot machine. At the push of a button, a screen shows a short video of somebody saying encouraging things. Messages range from two young women chanting "You are great! You are beautiful! You are so fantastic!" to a man's more down-to-earth "Remember, it could be worse." The inventor is Jennifer Baumeister, 31.

The IPKat doubts whether this invention, at least as described here, is patentable in Europe since it appears to consist of a "presentation of information" under the European Patent Convention, Art.52(2)(d). He also wonders how effective a comfort Ms Baumeister would find her own device, once she received a bill from her professional legal advisers ...

More on cold comfort here, here and here
Comfort machines here, here and here
COLD COMFORT? COLD COMFORT? Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 Rating: 5


Anonymous said...

Dear Jeremy,
I'm Jennifer - the one who built the machine ...
First of all: the machine is ment to be an art-work

It's a pity, that you can't try it. I interviewed a lot of very nice people and asked them to tell me what they'd say to a person they really like - who's in distress - and the only way to comfort him is through the camera.
The reactions were really different. Well, so were the people ( school kids, old people, a monch, artists, mothers, insurance advisers, councellors, etc.). They seriously tried. And everybody who used the machine could see that. The whole thing is ment to be something friendly. Although it looks really cold. I don't say that it solves problems. But it's still very good to try it and to listen to all the people saying nice and encouraging things (or hearing them talk about their experiences) to you if you're in a bad mood.
I hope my English was ok....

Jeremy said...

Thanks so much, Jennifer, for telling us all about your machine. From the news item I read, it looked like an invention rather than an art work, which is why I raised the issue of patentability.

I'm glad that your machine has brought comfort and enjoyment to people who have used it and I hope that it will continue to do so for a long time to come.

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