Friday, June 30, 2006

Female Inventor - Frances Gabe - Self Cleaning House


"Housework is a thankless, unending job, a nerve-twangling bore. Who wants it? Nobody! With my jaw set hard I was determined that there had to be a better way!" Frances Gabe, of Newberg, Oregon, was driven by her hatred of housecleaning to develop one of the most radical and yet practical inventions of all time: the self-cleaning house.

Each of the rooms of Gabe's house has a 10-inch square "Cleaning/ Drying/ Heating/ Cooling" apparatus at the center of its ceiling. At the touch of a button, this unit first emits a powerful spray of soapy water over the room, then rinses, then blow-dries the entire area. The rooms' floors are sloped slightly toward the corners to allow excess water to run off; vulnerable or valuable objects are protected under glass. The overall effect has been compared to an automated car wash---by admirers as well as critics.

More specifically, dishes are cleaned, dried and stored inside a cupboard which is also a dishwasher; clothes are cleaned, dried and stored while hanging in a closet which is also a washing machine/ dryer. The house's sinks, tubs and toilets are self-cleaning; the bookshelves dust themselves.

After 40 years of work and 68 devices, Gabe is still fine-tuning her house. But the final product is no mere science fiction or fantasy: Gabe actually lives in her patented, prototype home. It is no surprise that Gabe has earned the keen interest and strong support of various inventors' organizations. For her innovations clearly have great potential to benefit overworked homeowners as well as the physically challenged. Although Gabe's house may be a bit too practical for some people's taste, it is likely that many of her conveniences, and perhaps even houses modeled on hers, will be adopted for use in time to come.

Copyright © Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT School of Engineering

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