Plato postulated that "necessity" was the mother of invention, and we've always wondered—who's the baby's daddy? If the backlog of applications under review by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is any indication, inventions are fertilized by Having Way Too Much Time on Your Hands.
Often you'll see "Patent Pending" branded on items you pick up at the store. This means that for an $82-$330 fee (depending on whether he works for a big company), the inventor has filed an application to register it as their original and unique creation. It by no means guarantees that the U.S. patent office will ever certify it, especially if it's loony.
We scoured the database of patent applications for new inventions that push the limits of the imagination, leaving us to really question whether necessity had anything to do with it all. Perhaps Love of Mid-Century Sci-Fi snuck in for a quickie while Necessity was off at work.
Here are 12 patent applications, some serious and some mad, but all completely visionary. Click on the name of each to read the full details.