#948: Tubefeeder

No fan of television, I -but I do sometimes have to recognise that there are some good/useful/interesting programmes out there which I’m missing because of my obsessive online urge to avoid boredom.

Today’s invention is a newsfeed for browsers which directs the visitor to anything just about to appear on tv which is relevant to his/her stated interests, location, browsing history and channel subscriptions.


#947: TweetSheet

I came across this product recently which seems to have been intended as a cure for office boredom.

Today’s invention is inspired by that sentiment. It consists of a dance mat laid out in a keyboard arrangement -with responsive areas acting as keys which are large enough to accommodate the toe of a shoe but which cause the mat itself to be no more than say 1sqm in size (allowing it to be dropped on any floor).


This device would communicate with one’s phone and allow messages to be danced out and sent direct to eg Twitter.

The mat might also have one’s friends pictured down one side, enabling them to be selected and eg texted individually.

#946: Adoptools

I remember watching Jonathan Miller on TV, years ago, talking about how his consciousness gradually came to include the rear corner of his car, so that he could reverse park more effectively.

It seems that we now have experimental evidence that when using tools our minds adopt them as temporary bodyparts.


In order to help technicians, especially those with demanding dexterity requirements (such as astronauts on spacewalks) today’s invention is flesh coloured tools.

The idea is that the brain will adopt these items more rapidly and completely if the visual system sees them peripherally as not physically separate.

There would be a range of spray-on skin shades (and masking patches), allowing an individual to colour their entire toolbox.

#945: TieTub

My ties often end up in a ball in the wardrobe. Sometimes I actually remember to use a tierack, but this does nothing to help restore any wrinkled ones that have been knotted around my neck all day.

Today’s invention is a tie tidy which is not unlike a very narrow spin dryer in function.


Many ties would be placed, overlapping each other, on the inside surface of a cylinder with diameter say 20 cm and height 15cm (ie tall enough to accommodate the width of even my 1970s examples).

This would be spun, hard, about its vertical axis and humidified air fed inside until any creasing had disappeared (this would also avoid the dangers of fraying or singeing at the hands of amateur ironers).

#944: Slotsheet

Today’s invention is a way for sailing boats to stow and hoist their sails without all the usual rolling and stowing and yo-ho-hoing.

The sail itself would be a stiff shell, exactly mirroring the hull of the boat.


This would be attached to a curved rail running from fore to aft and which would rotate about the long axis of the vessel. This would allow the sail to be mechanically extracted from the slot in which it is stored.

The rear section of the rail would carry no sail, so that the wind could enter via this gap and help drive the boat.

#943: Legturn

Laptops: when actually placed on one’s lap they overheat the thighs as well as causing arm fatigue and backstrain.

Today’s invention is a mini lecturn made of recyclable cardboard which reduces both these problems, by placing the screen and keyboard in a more comfortable position.


The lecturn would be made in a single, foldable sheet.

Held firmly in place by sitting on the flaps, the ‘column’ on which one’s machine (or book, if you prefer) rests can be adjusted by tearing off sections along perforated lines in the cardboard at a number of different possible heights (and/or angles).

#942: Hamaltesers

I was left in charge of a bag of Maltesers on a warm day recently.

Some of chocolate layers on these had melted just enough to allow them to join with their fellows in a rather beautiful, molecule-like arrangement, which solidified when the temperature later fell. The honeycomb centres were strong enough to form a ‘backbone’ structure welded together with chocolate.


Today’s invention is a tool to allow people to make their own edible images (in a similar way to Hama beads which can be joined by melting together with an iron).

This consists of a plastic sheet with small holes forming a hexagonal lattice. Maltesers can be located on the holes, forming a pattern. A second sheet with holes is placed on top and the sheets are then clipped together so as to hold the pattern in place (Place a transparent, lower sheet on a laptop screen displaying a binary representation of eg a loved-one’s face and this would allow the required layout to be specified).

Warm air from a hairdryer is then blown between the sheets so that the Maltesers become joined. The resulting shape can then be withdrawn and placed in eg a gift box or in a resealable bag before eating.

It would also be possible to extend this from a base layer into a 3-D sculpture.

#941: PedaLs

Learner drivers need all the help they can get.

I still remember when driving a manual car for the first time, that my feet had a hard time working out where the pedals were…you tend to discover that you are braking rather than operating the clutch only by the dynamics of the vehicle as it responds…which is much too late for safety.


Today’s invention is a set of attachable sensors, one per pedal. When one’s foot hovers over say the brake, a different sound is emitted than from the accelerator. The strength of each sound could be made proportional to the central positioning of the foot. I’d also suggest making the noises resemble the normal sound of braking or accelerating (ie dropping in pitch or rising).

This allows an early-stage learner to stop trying to look at his feet and anticipate the next action required.

#940: BugBand

The legs of offshore platforms have loose fitting ‘garter’ type rings fitted so that the rise and fall of the water level will allow them to rub away marine life which clings to structures within the wave zone.

Today’s invention is analogous, but it addresses instead the problem of dead insects on the blades of a wind turbine. In some places this can reduce efficiency of the blades significantly.


Each blade would have a loose bracelet which would fall to the end of a blade (being retained by a lug on the end) and back to the hub as the turbine rotated. The movement of the bracelet would be enough to scrape off most of the insect remains -without having to stop the mechanism for cleaning or lower its operating efficiency.

#939: Vacuumotor

Today’s invention is a way to reduce resistance to the motion of the rotor within an electric motor.

This would involve shrouding each of the windings attached to the rotor with a light, tight-fitting, aerodynamic cover (orientated for low drag in the direction of rotation).


A further net decrease in drag on the rotor could be achieved by placing the motor in a shell with a well-lubricated rotary seal around the output shaft.

This would enable the air pressure inside the shell to be maintained at a much reduced level.