#709: Chainge

Today’s invention is a chain-like structural component. Two of these are indicated in the diagram. As shown, the two parts are free to rotate, relative to each other, in any direction. When these are pressed together, so that the two pairs of cylinders bear on each other, the links together act as a single rod.

Using many such chain links would allow rigid structures to be quickly extended and collapsed -for ease eg of transport (imagine a bicycle frame made of these and collapsible into a carrier bag).

Corner units, consisting of multi-ended links, could also be created to provide 3-D arrangements as well as purely linear ones. The links might be connected by springs, in order to add tensile strength to the rods which they form.

#708: Dragger

I was told, when young, that a sharp blade was usually less dangerous in use than a blunt one. Higher, and potentially less controllable, force needs to be exerted if the blade is insufficiently ‘edgy’ -ie if the front edge is less tapered than it should be.

Many materials (eg crystalline ones), will have properties such that the cut faces spring apart from each other, and the blade surface, thus contributing no ongoing resistance to the passage of the blade. For other substances (eg viscous, rubbery or gelatinous types) the blade movement is further impeded by continuing contact with the just-cut surfaces.

To minimise the total resistance in these cases requires not just a sharp front edge, but minimal surface area of contact between blade and material.

Today’s invention is therefore a low resistance blade which is as slim as a razor blade but which is braced, by a rear-edge ‘spine’, in the direction of blade movement, to allow a comfortable level of cutting pressure.

#707: Balmypalms

As the manufacturers of motorcycles know, having cold hands leads to a lack of concentration and often results in accidents. I was watching some people playing hockey in very cold weather when the following, related, idea occurred to me.

The shaft of each winter sports stick (including icehockey, hiking, skiing, shinty etc) could be filled with a long, thin tube full of heat pad crystals. This tube would be extracted, pre-game, boiled and reinserted, providing at least one half’s worth of handwarming (reheatable at half time if necessary).

The volume and placement of the tube could be tuned, for a given size of stick, to maintain the normal sweet spot (centre of percussion) in ballgames, without affecting the held surfaces or the freedom to change grip.

#706: Dampdoor

I find myself frequently having to bash through multiple sets of firedoors en route down various corridors. These are deliberately made of massive material in order to impede the progress of a fire from either direction.

Today’s invention is a modification to firedoors so that they incorporate their own extinguishant.

The top, wall-side corner of each side of each door would have a reservoir full of water attached. This would increase the moment of inertia of the doors only slightly. From this, a pipe would run along the top edge of each door face. The pipe would contain perforations, plugged by wax pellets.

In the even of a sharp rise in corridor temperature, the pellets would melt, allowing water rapidly to permeate the doors’ interior spaces and adding significantly to the escape period which they provide. This might even allow lighter materials to be used in the doors’ construction.

#705: BankTank

Fed up with standing in a windswept queue waiting to extract your own cash from a hole-in-the-wall machine (which then promptly runs out of money or just malfunctions)?

Today’s invention is a mobile ATM. First, select a time window and a delivery address via your bank’s secure website (assuming that they bothered to test it using Firefox, Safari, Opera etc and not just tatty old, last-century IE).

An armoured van will then appear with an ATM in the side to allow you to extract your cash without having to trek around town. The usual precaution would apply about not allowing the crew to access the safe and also the van would be equipped with a prominent, armoured camera to reduce the incidence of post-use mugging. It would also have a booth-like structure around the machine to prevent shoulder surfing and getting rained-on whilst withdrawing.

Vans would be re-routed in realtime so as to attempt to minimise some product of the average wait time and the total distance travelled. This would also make criminal attacks less easy to plan.

#704: Freefence

Properties which face onto the street are often troubled by having bicycles, motorcycles, dogs and even protesters chained to their railings. This makes the place untidy, especially as some of these cables and chains are ultra-resistant to cutting and removal.

Today’s invention offers a new railing design which consists of a set of tapering metal ‘blades’ with rounded tops (these would actually be each shaped like half a French stick, split longitudinally and then hollowed out). They would protect people from falling into the basement below, or banging into the windows behind, but would also allow anything chained around them to be lifted clear and removed.

The tapering profile used makes leaving anything attached to these rails obviously insecure and liable to be ‘liberated’ by the building’s owner or any passing thief.

#703: Ramp-up

In view of the fact that every homeowner within earshot of an airport is dead set against any additional runways or extensions being built, today’s invention offers a simple alternative.

If quite substantial aeroplanes can take off, using a steam catapult, from the deck of an aircraft carrier, then surely a similar arrangement could be used for civil airliners? This would allow runways to be made less than half current size. A ground-based catapult system, using a shallow ramp, could be made extremely powerful and might allow the aircraft’s engine load at take-off to be much reduced (cutting fuel mass to be carried and also the enormous noise of getting airborne).

An arrestor hook mechanism would be needed for landing, but at least the technology is well-established and surprisingly reliable.

#702: Sharedscreens

If you are inclined, you can now visit a disco in which the dancers all wear headphones tuned to receive the same music. This cuts the noise which might annoy the neighbours and enables uninhibited dancing into the small hours (this says nothing of course about the damage to hearing which may still be caused).

Today’s invention applies this approach to the cinema. Instead of having to use a great auditorium, projection equipment and a shared screen, an audience could each be equipped, on entry, with a set of electronic glasses -all of which would display the same movie within a normal-sized room.

The glasses might incorporate headphones too, but these would allow through some awareness of the audible reactions of the other viewers, so that the cinema experience could still be a shared, community event. People might be encouraged to sit facing the same direction, in order to accentuate this effect (even though it would be strictly unnecessary).

#701: Mobilemills

Wind farms are still by no means economically viable everywhere (and even economies of manufacturing scale may never make them so).

Nonetheless, in areas where they actually work, they are still unpopular because of the ‘NIMBY’ problem. People don’t want to have these large, noisy devices covering their scenic local countryside.

Today’s invention is a way to ensure that the windfarms can be seen as impermanent and also so that their activities can be shared around from place to place -rather than being dumped forever on a single community.

Take ten current-design, triblade wind turbines. Mount these at angles on an ex-military tracked vehicle which can be frequently repositioned using a farm tractor. This allows numerous vehicles of this design to be moved about in the countryside and even located so as to optimise their energy capture from say month to month.

#700: Fructoscrub

For institutions which consume a lot of fruit (such as school or hospital canteens or food processing factories), there is always an issue about ensuring that individual items of fruit, usually covered in pesticide residue, are adequately washed to ensure the longterm safety of consumers.

A quick swill under the tap won’t achieve anything like the required degree of washing.

Today’s invention in a device similar to a golfball scrubber, as used on courses all over the world. Items of fruit are fed from a hopper into an array of ‘cells’ -each of which has internal faces covered in toothbrush like material. As the cells are pushed backwards and forwards (manually) the brushes rub the fruit and clean off any wax and residues effectively. After a time, the cells can all be inverted, dropping the fruit gently into another large container ready for use.