Speedo's new swimsuit, called the Fastskin LZR Racer, is grabbing attention at the Beijing Olympics. Two recently published US patent applications, US20080141431 and US20080141430, may reveal the technical secrets behind the innovative design that some say is responsible for the record-breaking performances of swimmers such as Michael Phelps of the US.
Inventors have been improving swimsuits for well over a hundred years, some less successful than others, as shown by this example from the 19th century. (US243834)
I'm the librarian for research services in the Engineering and Science Library at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. I've been working with patent information since 1991, including seven years at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. I believe that the dissemination of patent information is a public good and should be promoted, especially in the education of science and engineering students.