The next great Canadian idea: A better mousetrap

Build a better mousetrap? With a little electronics this inventor did just that.

More than 200 ideas were submitted for our second Great Canadian Invention Competition. While judging continues, we present three of the more intriguing entries and the brains behind them.

A better mousetrap
Frank Naumann /// Waterloo, Ont.

Frank Naumann used to have a mouse problem. Every couple of days, he would remove a dead mouse from a trap in his attic and reset the spring-loaded device to await the next curious but doomed rodent. Sometimes he’d find the trap hadn’t been triggered at all, but he still had to fetch a stepladder and a flashlight, squeeze through a narrow closet door, and poke his head up

into the attic, generally banging it on something in the process. “I was getting ticked off,” says the retired 66-year-old auto-industry worker. “I was tired, pulling out the stepladder, going up there, checking this thing and everything else.”

Then Naumann, who lives in Waterloo, Ont., had the bright idea of wiring an LED to the trap and placing the light outside the attic. When the trap is set, a circuit is completed and the light goes on. The metal arm breaks the connection when the trap springs, causing the light to go out. Now all Naumann had to do to find out if he had another mouse to dispose of was check if the light was on or not.

The idea of building a better mousetrap has become an innovation cliché. After all, the iconic spring-loaded bar trap has been around since at least the late 1800s. And while many variations certainly exist, a search of the Canadian patent database reveals the last filing for a mousetrap was back in 1993. Naumann’s Smart Trap, as he calls it, could break that 15-year dry spell.