This is great. Check out this site.
At first blush, this isn't exactly the sort of innovation I have been thinking about driving at Alibre, but on second blush many of these actually patented inventions are pretty creative. Some are wacked.
I heard about this in a post by Seth Godin about ropeless jump rope, US patent #7037243. There is an article about it titled "Cordless Jump-Rope Can Help The Clumsy." A quote from the inventor who works as a laundry coordinator at a prison is nice:
"It is also good for mental institutions and prisons where rope is a suicide risk... And low ceiling fans aren't a hazard any more."
Seriously, Seth's take on it was to think about what you can remove from a product rather than what you can add. We think about this a lot at Alibre because we believe at least one reason our product is easier to use is that there is just less in it. The relentless software upgrade cycle leads leads to feature-clutter: features that appeal to fewer and fewer people, consume more and more of the cost of development, and most importantly, make the product harder to use for everyone else.
Imagine the cost reduction and ease of use if you could take the jump rope concept one step further and actually eliminate the handles too.