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No More Stubborn Lids: A Pickle Jar You Can Open With Ease

A new jar (at left) is shaped liked a parallelogram so that its lid can be opened with less force.
Nikkei Technology
A new jar (at left) is shaped liked a parallelogram so that its lid can be opened with less force.

Our "Weekly Innovation" blog series explores an interesting idea, design or product that you may not have heard of yet. Do you have an innovation to share? Use this quick form.

You've no doubt struggled to open a glass jar of pickles or pasta sauce and have probably resorted to one of many tricks out there to liberate a stubborn lid. Some prefer the rubber band method to improve grip. Others (like me) bang on the top or run the lid under hot water.

This week's innovation comes from engineers in Japan who have created a new jar with a shape they say makes it best for opening lids. The universal design is especially helpful for older people with weakening grips.

A Japanese glassmaker consulted with Tokyo-based designer Noriko Hashida from the department of engineering and design at Shibaura Institute of Technology. Hashida's testing revealed that jars shaped like parallelograms are best for applying force to open lids.

From Nikkei Technology:

"First, Hashida asked men and women in their 20s to 80s to open the lids of 15 existing glass bottle products and evaluate 'the ease of opening a lid' and 'the ease of holding a bottle' in the feeling valuation. As a result, she found that the ease of holding a bottle depends on how the shape of a bottle fits the shape of the user's hand and that the ease of opening a lid increases when a bottle shape is smooth from its neck to body.

"Then, Hashida measured the movements of muscles at the time of opening and closing the lids with an electromyograph and examined how a force is applied to a bottle by using clay. After that, she came up with several shapes to narrow them down to one. As a result, she found that a parallelogram is the shape of the cross-section that enables to apply a force and open the lid of a bottle most easily."

Hakuyo Glass has filed a patent application in Japan for the jar design — perhaps knowing you need those pickles right away.

Heidi Glenn is a digital producer at NPR. She often writes about the intersection of technology and kids, though most recently she wrote here about clogged toilets. Find her on Twitter (@hglenn) and Tumblr.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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