Holiday Inflatables All Year for One Man

As the Holiday Season comes to a close this weekend with the big New Year’s Eve celebration, we say goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012! Before we do, it is important to realize the major emphasis that some people have put on the other holidays this year, especially during Christmas, when a lot of inflatables are out in peoples’ yards. Whether it is a Santa inflatable or just a good old-fashioned Frosty the Snowman, many homeowners decorate front yards with wonderful inflatable decorations. For some, this extends way beyond just the Christmas season

One man, Dan McClain, was recently profiled in The Missourian for his extensive Christmas and holiday inflatables collection, which is seen in his front yard every year:

“McClain is the holiday enthusiast who lives on Payne Street. If you’ve driven that stretch of road this time of year, or any holiday season, you know which house is his. Right now his yard is laden with three dozen inflatable Christmas characters — everything from a flock of penguins to a Mickey and Minnie Mouse to a 20-foot Santa Claus.”

The impressive part about McClain’s decoration for the holidays is the fact that it doesn’t end with the big Christmas season – it goes on all year-round. His biggest holiday – according to the article – is Halloween:

“And this isn’t even his “big” holiday. That would be Halloween, when he has 59 inflatables covering his lawn — a 12-foot-tall Frankenstein, the Headless Horseman, Grim Reaper, gargoyles, pumpkins, a haunted house and giant spiders, some with heads that move.”

This penchant for inflatable decorations goes beyond just the normal holidays too:

“For St. Patrick’s Day, he has leprechauns and pots of gold. And for Fourth of July, he has an Uncle Sam, a 9-foot eagle, an American flag and a peace sign. He also decorates for Easter, and, some years, if it’s not too cold toward the end of January, McClain said he may put up the six clown jester inflatables he has for Mardi Gras.”

That is some serious dedication to the art of holiday decorations, inflatable or not!


Some Australians Might Get Deflated

I know that the winter is upon us (especially in the Northern areas of the world) but it isn’t cold all over the place. Consider Australia, which is currently entering its summer season. What does that mean? It’s time to set up the inflatable pool in the backyard for those really hot days down under. However, some Australians might find themselves in a tough situation, due to an obscure law.

According to The Age, a Victorian law requires that all pools with 30 centimeters of water must be surrounded by a child-proof fence or barrier of some kind. If this law starts to be enforced by local councils, it could become a problem:

“Under the law a swimming pool can be any ‘excavation or structure’ capable of 300 millimeters water depth ‘’used principally for swimming, wading, paddling or the like’. Owners are also required to get a building permit for the fence or barrier and ensure it complies with rules regarding height, bolts and gaps. Fines for failing to comply can be up to $5000. Inflatable pools have been exempted from needing building permits.”

This may seem a bit like overkill in terms of inflatable pool safety, but some areas in Australia take it very seriously. However, the article says that there is a general feeling that the issue is not important enough to be a major concern. Overall, pool safety requirements are not properly vetted when houses are being built. The article says that a shift in policy should be forthcoming with fines and penalties:

“[There has been] a 10 [percent] increase in the past year in the number of Victorians drowning at inland waterways. An additional nine-year study by the state Coroner’s Office and Life Saving Victoria showed an average of nine alcohol-related deaths in the state every year, mostly men aged between 35 and 44 and mostly in rivers.”

Hopefully these numbers of deaths will go down as local councils begin to strictly enforce safety policies for pools, inflatable or otherwise.



Inflatable Robots!!!

As you know if you read this blog, there are all kinds of fun and interesting inflatables out there. In fact, two weeks ago I wrote about artists who use inflatables as an integral part of their work. I’ve also mentioned stories about rental inflatables that are air-filled versions of real working Irish pubs – now those are definitely an inventive use of the inflatable technology available. As cool as these uses of inflatables are, there is a new implementation for inflatables that has me really excited – inflatable robots!

CNET reports that inflatable robots are being developed and used in San Francisco as we speak. This is good for many types of industries, which could use them in a number of different ways. According to the story:

“Ant-Roach [is] a pneumatic robot that weighs about 70 pounds and can carry loads that are much heavier. It was designed by San Francisco-based Otherlab ‘to demonstrate the carrying capacity and high strength-to-weight ratios possible with inflatable structures.’ The beast has textile actuators that contract when inflated with compressed air. A microcontroller runs the muscle network, and is controlled wirelessly via laptop.”

Using inflatables in robotics is not a new premise, especially when you consider the use of pneumatic pressure as a force for movement in various machinery is very common. However, these robots have major limitations when it comes to mobility, which the article says is “zero to limited.” The good news? These robots are still valuable in ability:

“Their soft exterior makes them ideal for use around humans, and they have high ratios of strength to weight. [One] prototype is apparently able to lift a person with 50-60 psi even though it weighs only 2 pounds. If the arm could move and grasp object with precision, repetition, and speed, industrial applications alongside human workers may be possible at reduced cost.”

If what is being said about these robots is true, I would say that we will be seeing them at construction sites and factories in the near future.