#2739: WaveWing

There is something very romantic about the old idea of driving your classic Porsche 911 to the beach with a surfboard on the roof.

Porsches have, over the 50 years of the 911’s history, been fitted with some enormous inverted wings.

Today’s invention is therefore a surfboard which can be carried on your sportscar (laterally) but which acts as a detachable downforce wing, when the car is in motion.

#2738: DatingTimer

When using a messaging app for dating purposes, people are currently faced these days with an optimisation problem: how long to wait before responding to his/her last message?

Respond after too big a delay and you risk losing their attention. Go back too soon and you look desperate.

Today’s invention is an upgrade to a dating app which asks its users to alert it when they have achieved ‘relationship success’ (however they define that).

Then, in the background, their messaging history is analysed, so that any pattern can be extracted and amalgamated with the patterns of other couples who have become an item.

This information is then used to issue alerts to people in a proto-couple, such as ‘He was last in touch via a 100 character msg two hours ago. At this stage of your relationship, you should consider responding with less than 20 characters in five minutes.’

#2737: Rollinks

Today’s invention is a tanktrack link which has a roller embedded in it.

This roller (red) contains a lock which can be activated wirelessly, so that as the track is lifted off the ground, the roller falls into a different position vertically (and is again locked). Normally the rollers would all be locked in the up, or fully withdrawn, position (right).

This allows rollers in the ground contact position (left) to act as rollerskate wheels, so that shallow declines can be moved down under gravity, with fixed tracks. They also allow differential motion of one track relative to another, lessening damage to both the tracks and the ground.

Rollers can also be braked, so that, in the fully down position, extra traction is provided.

#2736: Prophylact-Ice

A Council worker drove past me today on the street where I live. His wagon was spreading salt -even though the ambient temperature was 8 deg C. He looked at me as if he deserved a round of applause as his aerial bombardment of corrosive grit pinged off the paintwork of the parked vehicles.

OK, so, I’m no particular fan of mindless councils, untrained drivers or icy weather.

I found out recently that there are several modes by which salt combats frozen roads.

It seems that when salt water freezes, it forces absolutely all the salt out of the ice matrix.

Imagine that one’s car is washed underneath with fresh water using eg an underbody washer. This is left on a cold night, so that a coating of ice forms all over the undersurface of the vehicle.

When it is then driven on a stretch of tarmac, salty water will splash upwards but, as long as the local temperature is below freezing, no salt will be able to penetrate the protective coat of ice.

Today’s invention is therefore an underbody washer unit with a chiller built in. The spray from this can be driven across, so that , in cold weather, a film of ice wraps and protects the underside of your car. The chiller is only there to speed the process of freezing when the weather is already cold.

(If you later drive around as the atmospheric temperature increases (and the underside ice melts) but before the salt has washed off the road, then your car will be unprotected -so that’s to be avoided).

#2735: Floatanker

The US Navy knows a thing or two about firefighting.

It seems that if three or more fuelled planes are on fire together, they can’t be extinguished. They must be allowed to burn out.

It’s obviously a bad idea to park fuelled planes together in a bunch. They might not present a prime target, but, since they can’t be put out, their burning could well lead to other fires/explosions. If you are on an airfield, planes can be kept at a distance from each other. In a carrier, everything gets stacked closely together.

Today’s invention is a way to ensure that fully fuelled planes never appear together on deck.

Each aircraft would take off with a tiny amount of fuel on board. Planes would then rendezvous with one of several armoured hydrofoil powerboats.

Each of these would allow multiple fighters to take on fuel rapidly, using in-flight refuelling hoses, as they all sped across the water surface.

#2734: Mudeflectors

Running along country tracks and trails in Winter means that your legs get coated in mud -especially at the back. This can be pretty hard to clean off.

Today’s invention is therefore a set of stretchy mudflaps for one’s running shoes.

These fit as shown and keep the mud spray to a minimum. They would be easy to wash clean with a hose.

2733: MetAdvent

In an era where commercialism has gone mad and each festival has more or less merged into the next, today’s invention highlights that craziness, in the hope that something can be done to stop it.

It takes the form of an advent calendar which allows people to count the days until they can start opening their advent calendars.

This ironically emphasises the stupidity of not living for today and deferring enjoyment until some future date.

#2732: ALighters

These days it’s easy to create a fire model, but harder to interpret the results.

This is true for experts and even more so for journalists.

Instead of just burning off huge tracts of land and endangering all the local wildlife, today’s invention is to employ UAVs, each equipped with a camera and a small, gas-powered blowtorch. The downdraft from the rotors would be used to fan the flames in the desired direction.

This would allow a team of remotely located foresters to burn only smallish regions in advance of the firefront.

They could decide where to burn, based on feeding known wind behaviour into an agent based model. Running several simulations (perhaps on a parallel supercomputer) could be done faster than the fire could move, enabling some kind of optimal burn pattern to be calculated and then implemented.

#2731: LogisticLogin

Strong passwords are often hard to remember. That seems to be because the very patterns which allow us to form memories are also the things which hackers can get to grips with most easily.

If you use any simple algorithm to generate a password, for example, then that is a source of insecurity.

Using a slightly more complicated algorithm, which generates a unique password to each site, seems like a better idea.

URLs are, by definition, unique to websites, so today’s invention relies on that.

Say I want to login to https://iotd.patrickandrews.com/wp-admin. One way would be to always use a password consisting of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 10th, characters ie otdc…Logging into http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education would use password bccw, etc.

This removes any need to memorise anything other than a single string of digits. One’s browser could easily remember the algorithm and when it loses the information, as mine often does, it would be easy to reproduce manually, as required.

I’d take it one step further, because I have such a poor memory. Instead of 2,3,4,10 etc, I might choose a sequence to generate my string of digits, such as ‘primes minus 2’ ie 3-2=1st, 5-2=3rd, 7-2=5th, 11-2=9th, etc or even some variant on the logistic map over integers (which is already used to generate pseudorandom bit sequences).

#2730: CareXit

Today’s invention is a system by which a car driver can control the degree to which any of the other doors may be opened.

This allows the driver to ensure that no-one (eg children or people with impaired vision) flings a door into the face of a cyclist or into the side of a nearby vehicle.

The driver would have a graphical control unit, perhaps on the steering wheel, which would allow him/her to check in the mirrors and set the maximum opening angle accordingly.

This could be set to say 20 degrees initially, so that a) no child could get out unsupervised and b) the driver could then gradually ease each door open just enough, in turn, to allow passengers to exit safely.