Designs of a socially-conscious inventor By Cathy McGowan – Northern Ontario Business – June 2000

Inventor Wolfgang Schoor has developed unique ergonomic products that he hopes to manufacture for worldwide markets. The German-born inventor and owner of Villa-House a hostel in the city’s north end, has been designing ergonomic products and buildings for most of his life.

“I’ve always tried to resolve problems since I was a boy. I’ve had a life-long interest in exploring human comfort issues,” Schoor says.

Over the years the Villa-House has identified barriers that may be resolved with ergonomic designs. This in part inspired some of Wolfgang’s ergonomic designs while the Villa-House underwent $240,000 in renovations, upgrades and innovations.

For example, he has invented “The Schoor-Fire-stop,” a device that will automatically shut off a stove when it is left unattended.

The device, which is attached to the back of a stove, detects heat levels and shuts off the appliance when heat reaches a dangerous level. He has installed the devices in his own self contained unit as well as in other part of the house to protect tenants and their property.

Schoor has developed a line of trademarked Schoor-Grip ergonomic hand tools such as the Ergo Claw Hammer, designed with a slightly-curved handle to eliminate potential for Carpal Tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injuries.

“There’s more impact and force with the Schoor-Grip, and it increases your range of motion,” he says.

Schoor has taken the same design qualities to develop prototypes such as brushes, ladders, a drill that operates counter-clockwise, shears, shovels and other hand tools. He has even developed a device that eliminates squeaks in floors.

A certified craftsman, tool maker, carpenter and joiner, Schoor has also developed Ergo 2000, which he describes as a “functional, affordable and adaptable” housing design. Based on Inuit building designs. Ergo 2000 enables homeowners to expand exterior and interior building components. The open concept interior also allows for improvement.

Photo by: Kathy McGowan
Schoor built an Ergo 2000 prototype in a rural area near the city for a home owner, he is “very happy and pleased” with the design, Schoor says. In the 1980′s Schoor designed The Norden Haus building system. The Norden Haus is another innovative feature that allows for the construction of additional storeys and extensions to a basic building.Two houses near Beardmore and Thunder Bay have been constructed with The Norden Haus building design, Schoor says.Schoor says his Schoor-Way tool systems and building designs are especially needed to help resolve problems facing the world’s aging population. And he adds the systems can be manufactured locally for worldwide sales and distribution.

“They’ve been created and developed in Thunder Bay, and we have a lot of skilled labour here,” he says.

Schoor recently launched his Ergonomic Home Health and Safety Web site to profile some of his inventions and ergonomic research.

And he has just started a marketing campaign and plans to write a book on his experiences at Villa-House. A research paper entitled Schoor’s Creation of Physical and Social Residential Environments incorporating Ergonomics has been published in 51 countries.

“I have so many ideas that can help improve human comfort. Lifestyle is a reflection of who we’ve become, (and) my designs can help people improve their lives,” Schoor says. “There is a market for ergonomic systems and designs, and I want to share them with everyone.

If you have an interest in any of my inventions or products, please feel free to contact me. I will get back to you with answers promptly.