Here's another "design hole," a problem in need of a solution, this one spotted (pun intended) by engineer and fitness enthusiast Dave Vorozilchak. As weightlifters know, maximum gains are achieved by reaching muscular failure; after pushing your body beyond its limits, the failure supposedly "shocks" the muscles into growing post-workout, the better to meet the challenge next time.
This sets up a dangerous situation during bench-pressing. Those who cannot find a spotter in the gym, or who are working out at home alone, know that for safety's sake they should not go for that last rep—but hopped up on endorphins or pure motivation, will try anyway. Some benches are flanked by safety stands, but those who haven't take the time to adjust them to the proper height are still in danger. Lifting an unyielding steel bar, and enough weight to easily crush your ribs or trachea, when your body might be gassed is a terrible idea.
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Thus Vorozilchak put his engineering background to use, incorporating the principles of a hydraulic jack.
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WARNING: If you are squeamish, do NOT watch the video below from roughly 0:49 to 1:00. Those eleven seconds show a solitary weightlifter recording himself and bench-pressing what looks to be a fiendish amount, and as his muscles fail and his arms buckle, the bar begins to come down on his trachea. The footage ends as his legs begin to kick, but with no help in sight, it's not difficult to imagine what happens next.
Vorozilchak's Maxx Bench invention is clever not only from an engineering standpoint, but a business perspective as he's got at least two potential markets. In litigious America, what gym wouldn't pony up the cash for a bench with a safety feature that might prevent them from being sued? Additionally, the design should appeal to those with home gyms who work out alone. And while he certainly put in the work, he didn't have to re-invent the wheel: Hydraulic jacks are an existing mechanism with proven ability.
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As a sign of its appeal, the Maxx Bench has nearly reached its $50,000 Kickstarter target, with $45,000 in pledges at press time and 22 days left in which it will surely clear the remaining five grand.
So, this is a reminder for the designers among you looking to create that hit product: Find a design hole and plug it. Lately we've seen a lot of clever folks who spot things that need improving in their daily lives, from Jim Cash's custom wine cellars to this couple's clothes-organizing system to reversible USB cable connections to a suitcase that turns into shelving.
If you look around within your own lifestyle and the things you do each day, you're bound to find something that sucks. Put that ID mind to work, solve it and create!