Archive for: January 2009
January 11, 2009
Beset by handheld games consoles, being used by various offspring post-Xmas, I’ve become aware of how important it is to limit the obsessive usage of these.
Today’s invention is an additional, password-protected interface on all such devices which allows a responsible adult (or even a meanie parent) to specify in advance times when they may be used.
This might have a small alarm to alert the user when access is allowed and also when it’s about to end.
January 9, 2009
Today’s invention is simply a DVD on which is stored a movie of someone in silhouette getting up out of an armchair and periodically walking about.
This is projected onto the inside surface of a curtain in order to act as a deterrent to would-be burglars.
On occasions, the shadowy person disappears off to one side of the window for periods of several minutes at a time.
When the end of this classic of the cinema is reached, a script simply reruns each section between such disappearances -in a random order so as to avoid the repetition being detected.
January 8, 2009
I find the properties of coffee grounds fascinating (beyond the normal effects of three double espressos). Whole books have been written about the odd rheology of this soft, yet abrasive powder. I was recently playing with an evacuated foil packet of coffee and it occurred to me that it had incredible strength for its weight (caused by the particles being jammed together by the sucked-in skin of the foil).
Today’s invention exploits this property. An example application would be to create a bicycle frame using a single fattish inner tube filled with a coffee-like particulate material (and air). The cycle parts would be loosely attached to this tube to begin with so that the frame could be bent over on itself: a foldaway bicycle.
Now, straighten out the frame tube and evacuate the air (using a variant on a standard bike pump). The frame immediately can be made to rigidify…stabilising the relative positions of the wheels, bars, pedals etc enough to allow the device to be ridden away.
Imagine pouring wine slowly from a bottle into a glass. As you look down on the bottle at any instant, the wine’s surface can be seen to touch the inside of the bottle along an elegant perimeter shape. An instant later, some wine has left the bottle and the perimeter has moved downwards, taking up a different perimeter shape.
Today’s invention is to mark a series of these perimeters on bottles, during their manufacture, at vertical intervals corresponding to eg 1 unit of alcohol.
This would allow someone serving wine to monitor exactly how much went into each glass and thus protect the health/ driving licence of the drinker.
The gaming machines industry is big business. Today’s invention is a new variant.
A player causes coins to dropped somewhere onto a pile of similar ones resting on a flat plate. The plate has vertical edges on three sides. Eventually the pile becomes critical, so that adding a single coin will cause a ‘landslide.’
These events will vary in size each time a coin is dropped on the pile, so that a variable number of coins will fall off the open front edge of the plate into a prize tray accessible to the player.
Under these conditions (self-organised criticality) there will be a very small number of huge avalanches and a large number of very small avalanches (Frequently, the initial landslide will fail to trigger others and no coins will fall from the plate).
This combination would strongly encourage people to play, whilst actually paying out minimal amounts in winnings (statistically limited, over the long term, but occasionally giving the impression of uncontrollable ‘house’ losses).
January 6, 2009
Ships have propellers which are designed to fling water relatively rearwards in an efficient manner. Tidal power is one area of ‘alternative energy’ which seems as if it has some chance for being cost effective.
Today’s invention is to combine this information and create a simple source of energy.
Take ships which, due to economic conditions, are not currently being used and moor them securely in regions of high tidal flow activity. Equip each with a generator, if they haven’t already got one on board. Allow the tidal movements to drive the props with the hulls anchored in position (they might need to be driven up to speed to overcome inertia). Store the energy extracted in batteries which can then be transported into dock when fully charged and connected to the grid.
I’m told, by various women of my acquaintance, that they dread the holiday season because it’s then that males of every type are seemingly entitled to plant wet, celebratory kisses on their cheek.
Today’s invention provides a way to avoid the unpleasantness of a refusal to be kissed -as well as that of being drooled over by someone with no skills in social osculation.
Women would be equipped at a party with a pack of large, laminated paper lips. These would have an adhesive patch on the rear face. When the dreaded mistletoe, greeting or new year kissing is about to begin, these lips could be attached to a woman’s cheek, allowing her to direct any incoming kisses to this patch.
Done with a smile, this could avoid any awkwardness and the patch could then be quickly discarded and renewed with a new one from the pack.
One of the major reasons that people cite for not using public transport is that they have to sit next to other members of their species. A UK Transport Secretary once ineptly summarised this feeling by referring to Jean-Paul Sartre‘s considered view of bus travel: “Hell is other people.”
Another issue with public transport is that trains, planes and buses are all excellent locations at which airborne diseases can be exchanged.
Today’s invention is therefore a personal module containing a seat and windows: something like a modern sedan chair. These would take the form of a one-person compartment which would isolate the travelling public from each other and together fill the interior of a bus or train. At journey’s end, porters could even be hired to transport any box and place it on a small wheeled base for weatherproof pavement transport -like an electrically powered invalid carriage.
January 5, 2009
There are large numbers of people capable of generating some kind of artistic output, but not able to make a living doing so. In accordance with a power law-type distribution, there is also a very tiny number of artistic people who are fantastically wealthy.
Today’s invention is a simple process by which the successful artists can help spread the economic benefits in their common ‘industry,’ and support the development of new work -without having to make charitable donations.
Famous person X can simply help compile the works of unknown persons Y,Z etc (ie the ones they like best) and use celebrity to sell much more of Y and Z’s output than would ever occur otherwise. This would be marketed as “X’s favourite contemporary poems” (or paintings, or pottery). It’s more about creating proteges, rather than patronage. In this case the celebrity benefits mostly from the PR value of being seen to support their fellow creatives.
January 4, 2009
« Newer posts — Older posts »
Now that LCD projectors are available in pocket sizes, I can’t imagine why somebody hasn’t incorporated one into a cellphone or compact camera.
Today’s invention is to use a pocket projector to project a part of an image or video sequence into the scene being photographed. This offers numerous extra opportunities for digital creativity. The captured images could be processed in-camera and then superimposed, in some modified form, on the target scene.
This might be done with a section of video, so that, for example, a new composite movie could be created of someone dancing at a given instant, together with their movements of a half-second ago.
Similarly, projecting a grid of fine lines onto a scene and then recording the result could provide a cheap, quick alternative to laser scanning for the extraction of 3-D data.