'Useless machine' maker from Regina gaining worldwide fame
A Regina man is gaining a name for himself as a builder of 'useless machines' — devices which serve no practical purpose but are enormously popular among fans of gadgets.
Brett Coulthard says he became fascinated with useless machines after doing some research on the internet.
He knew the devices had only one function — to turn themselves off — but was keen to learn more.
"The concept of a machine that turns itself off has been around a long time," Coulthard explained. "I saw a video online [and] I had to have one, so I made one."
His first version was made about three years ago using items found at a dollar-store.
He takes particular pride in noting his machine is actually turning itself off, pointing to a mechanical finger that flicks a toggle switch.
Coulthard went on to design a number of useless machines and his devices have become so popular that he devotes himself to making them, full-time, and selling them around the world.
Coulthard sells kits that people can use to build their own machines as well as fully-assembled gadgets.
His work was also featured in the Wall Street Journal, an experience Coulthard described as mind-blowing.
"It blows me away," he said. "I haven't been to bed for about 26 hours [because] I knew it was going to be published today."
Coulthard has been selling a plastic machine and is currently working on one made of wood.
He created a business, the Frivolous Engineering Company, to market his gadgets online.
"It turns out that on many different levels, it is a useful machine," Coulthard said, talking about the success he has enjoyed. "To me it really is the ultimate machine. It's going to sound corny but it's changed my life."
Coulthard also acknowledged he is following up on original ideas that were developed in the 1950s by people working at Bell Labs.
Interactive by: Andre Mougeot/CBC