#2485: ShrinkSkin

If you ignore the closed-cockpit record breakers on Bonneville flats, motorcycle aerodynamics is a field which has been largely neglected. It’s just hard to do much modelling of a system whose entire geometry is changing every few milliseconds.

There are however some obvious bloopers to avoid. The first of these is the flapping dewlaps of leather which tend to increase drag on riders -even in race-tight, in one-piece suits. Some examples can be seen in slow motion here.

Today’s invention is an improvement to race suit streamlining.

Just before a race, a rider gets on his/her machine. A vacuum pump is attached to a valve in the back of the airtight suit, which evacuates it like a coffee pack. A plug is inserted in the inlet and sealed, so that the armour segments are more effectively attached to the body.

The suit would incorporate small stretch panels to allow a little body movement for weight transference on the corners (and occasional breathing). A cold water bladder would be worn on the inside of the abdomen area of the suit to help reduce body temperature in the absence of ventilation. Thus there would be no spare leather to flap around and slow these heroes down.

#2484: RetroLead

How many dog walkers have been injured by their substantial canine deciding to suddenly leap in the direction of some squirrel/small dog/rabbit?

…Dog sees small dog across road and leaps toward it…Hand holding the lead tenses and yanks shoulder joint…Shoulder reflexes snap all the ligaments taught…Nerves get stretched.

It’s happened to me twice, resulting in some reasonably serious damage.

Today’s invention is a safety device designed to prevent injury to both dog walkers and their daft animals.

When an impetuous pet leaps away with a force great enough to tear a plastic restraint (pink), a small charge, as in an automotive airbag, fires backwards as shown. This causes the dog’s chest harness to stop the animal in its tracks, without placing stress on the owner’s arm. The internal cable (blue) maintains the link with the dog (but without snapping taught).

(It might work best if the charge were actually based on compressed air that the user could recharge after each use).

#2483: PlushPushes

It’s very easy for folk who want to help roll a broken-down classic to the roadside to seriously damage the paintwork or even dent the panels by pushing in the wrong places.

Today’s invention is for the very few who own cars so exotic that, when they break down, they must be handled with kid gloves.

So, imagine that the owner pulls from his or her boot a set of foam pads with embedded magnets (sorry, if you have carbon fibre bodywork, it’s quite tough enough to stand some pushing).

These are tailored to fit the panels exactly in especially strong locations. The magnets hold these pads firmly in place but don’t directly contact the paint.

Each pad has two, hand-shaped recesses, to ensure that people only shove the right areas. Some, for example those fitting on the doors with the windows down, could have handles embedded to help with pulling.

#2482: PressurePod

When taking handheld photographs, you often have to hold your breath and brace, whilst also clutching a heavy camera. This can be tiring to do all day and undermines a photographer’s concentration and artistic input.

Photographers commonly wear multi-pocket vests and today’s invention is such a garment but one which pressurises itself to act as a semi-rigid platform. This could most likely be achieved using the self inflation equipment from a life jacket.

When you press the focus button, a small carbon-dioxide cylinder would fill the vest. That would compress your torso and help steady you for the shot -without having to keep tightening your stomach and chest muscles.

It might even have bags under the armpits to help support the camera’s weight. Once rigidified, a gibbet attached to the vest could be used to support the weight of the camera using the torso as a stable platform.

Throughout a day-long shoot, the vest could be repeatedly deflated a little and then topped up using a foot pump, for example.

#2481: AmplerCamper

I don’t much like caravans (or camper vans, if you prefer). This is probably because, when driven on twisty UK roads, they tend to attract bad drivers who cling to their back ends and are afraid to overtake the combined length of van+car.

Nonetheless, I am a huge admirer of applied mathematicians. Today’s invention relates these diverse phenomena.

It seems that mathematicians have been trying to find the biggest rigid shape which can pass down a passage with right angle bends in it. A near-perfect solution is shown in pink in the diagram.

Today’s invention is to create caravans which have this shape when viewed from above. This allows them to have the largest possible floor area, whilst also being able to negotiate the right angled corners of one lane of a city road network.

#2480: SaferScaler

One of the easiest ways to have an accident is to fall from a ladder. Often, this happens because the base is insecure.

Another serious danger is ascending past the point where at least one hand can grip the side rails. It’s always tempting to balance on the top rung and stretch to paint that last, high section of wall.

Today’s invention is a simple alternative design which overcomes this danger. The ladder has a section of rungs deliberately missing at the top end. You can stand on rung B and grip the rails at A but no greater height is possible.

If you need a taller ladder, then a sliding extension can be added in the usual way -to the bottom end.

Another advantage is that, at the end of the day, this design can be inverted and locked to eg a downpipe, making it impossible for burglars or children to ascend.

From a marketing point of view, this would be better portrayed as providing extra length rather than less. The de-runged bit could be painted a different colour.

#2479: GripPay

Everything you buy will soon be payable for using a contactless card. If you choose to use one of these, rather than pay by phone, you will encounter a problem.

The cards need to be held close enough to the reader and parallel to its surface.

That action makes it hard to grip the card properly. You can hold it by one edge, but this often fails to read. I’m thinking here about the London Underground Oyster card. Faffing around those turnstyles at rush hour makes you unpopular. Or you can hold the edges using one finger on each, but this feels insecure and is hard to get the card close enough to the surface.

Today’s invention solves these problems using a milk bottle cap seal as shown. This would be simply glued onto your card. Fold up the tab, pinch it between your fingers and swipe the card close to the reader. This gives more reliable performance at almost zero extra cost.

When inserting that card back in a wallet or even into an ATM, the tab is simply folded flat.

#2478: Rolleredge

Today’s invention is a simple add-on for paint rollers which allows one to paint up to an edge or skirting board without getting the paint anywhere it shouldn’t go.

This is designed to be manufactured for a few pence and to be easily cleanable.

When you press down on the roller handle, its springiness allows the shield to stay flat on the surface whilst the roller paints it.

#2477: TalkTimer

Today’s invention is a microphone to be used in the Q&A section of conference meetings.

It is equipped with a simple timer, so that the chairperson can set the interval for which each questioner can speak. This is publicly announced beforehand.

The chairperson may also set the guest responder’s microphone for a different, but still limited, duration.

In this way, the usual self-promotional speechmaking or unfocussed waffling is strictly limited and many more people get to ask questions and receive relevant, pithy answers.

It should be possible to have the microphone emit a warning beep before it stops working each time.

#2476: Stirring Engine

I may have mentioned that patience does not come easily to me.

It’s a particular problem when dealing with people who have a loose grasp on the concept of urgency..or when I want some tea.

Today’s invention is a technology to speed up tea making (who can afford the time required by natural circulation, when active dunking would be faster?)

Here, I employ my love of thermodynamics by applying a Stirling engine in a novel and strangely satisfying way.

The (jasmine) tea bag string is applied to the engine’s crank so that the bag is oscillated through the hot water, hastening teatime.