I’ve been reading about the McLaren sports cars (great design, but a website so annoying I’m not going to post the link).
Today’s invention is for high-performance, mid-engined vehicles like these.
Since many are equipped with an inverted wing section to increase downthrust, this should actually be the vehicle’s radiator.
Coolant could flow directly from the engine, up the support struts on the leading edge and down the rear pair. This would raise the centre of gravity only slightly whilst greatly improving heat removal from the engine (and possibly allowing the car’s frontal area to be reduced too).
The number of tools which a penknife can be expected to accommodate is now phenomenal…but any of these with even the slightest possible use as a weapon are banned from air travel.
You can even buy eg an MP3 player from Victorinox which, oddly, comes “with or without blades” (In the latter case it seems to have none of the essential pull-out functionality of its stablemates).
Today’s invention, however, is a ‘penknife’ with only an entirely innocuous collection of tools on board: eg magnifying glass, tweezers, torch, memory stick, watch …
Drumsticks which are used outside eg by military bands can be hard to handle in cold weather (especially if the uniform doesn’t include gloves).
Today’s invention is to equip drumsticks with a hollow core into which can be inserted a tube of exothermic chemicals.
Any problems arising from the effect of this on the balance of the sticks could be addressed by fitting a small, screw-out weight to the distal (ie non-drumming) end of each to help finetune its feel.
On beaches which are so popular and dangerous as to warrant lifeguards, I’m concerned that the whole lifesaving thing relies on having beefy swimmers plough out through the waves to reach anyone in trouble.
Rather than waste this time, today’s invention is a tall, whippy tower with a rotating hinge mechanism at the bottom, unlike the normal watchtowers.
A lifeguard would perch at the top of this so as to be able to scan a very significant length of beach. On spotting someone in difficulties, the tower could be pointed in the right direction and allowed to hinge forward -throwing the guard more than 50 yards offshore and thus greatly speeding his or her rescue attempts.
If necessary, a line could link guard to the gantry, enabling both saved and saviour to be lifted ashore fast.
Loose change is generally a nuisance -especially the brown shrapnel kind.
Today’s invention is to create coins which each contain a bar magnet. This would allow all coins automatically to align themselves into a convenient column within someone’s pocket. No more rattling during presentations and, when you need to spend some change, just flip the required coins off the top of the stack.
If you wanted to go one step further, you could have slightly dished coins so that these could be arranged, partly overlapping each other, in the form of a bracelet or necklace.
I was struck, when passing some parked cars the other day, by how many of them had been left with lights on.
Today’s invention is a way to reduce this problem for people whose vehicles don’t yet have a lights-left-on alarm (or who are in such a rush that they fail to notice it).
People who spot lights left on can text the licence plate to a well-publicised number. This is linked to the licensing computer which automatically issues an alert to the mobile phone of the owner.
An alternative might be to plant a receiver in the car’s lighting circuitry, so that, if it is parked, the lamps can be automatically disconnected.
Crampons are all very well for ice climbing, but today’s invention represents an attempt to upgrade them to something better than the era of heroes like Hillary had access to.
Imagine boots whose soles have an array of studs. These studs are in the shape of sharp screws of differing diameter.
When the studs sense that they are pressing against a surface, a motor in each boot rotates the studs in contact with the surface so that the boot is temporarily screwed to it.
Another sensor then detects any pronounced tension as the wearer attempts to lift the boot and rapidly unscrews the studs from the ice.
In this way, more secure contact is established when walking or climbing, even enabling someone to walk on overhangs or eg the roof of an ice filled cave.
Today’s invention is a way to make use of the dribbles from a cup or glass.
Each drinking vessel at a party would have a press-on disc attached to its base. This would have machined into its underside a series of channels in the shape of a logo, a celebratory message or an advert.
The disc would fit neatly (in only one rotational position) within a coaster which forms part of the kit. When any dribbles flow onto the base of the glass, they fill the engraved advert (by surface tension) and magically leave a message on the coaster (or any other surface the glass is set upon).
Today’s invention is an email inbox which indicates when the number of unanswered messages is approaching some user-prespecified figure.
Once the number of messages exceeds this allowed total, then a number of messages corresponding to this overspill is removed from the earliest messages in the box.
These messages may only be retrieved, once you have freed up space in the inbox, by paying to access them from an online repository.
UAVs are getting smarter individually but there are still opportunities for cleverness in the ways they interact.
Today’s invention is a way to build larger autonomous aircraft by having conventional ones join up in flight. Each vehicle would have eg electromagnetic patches on the wingtips, enabling autonomous docking without ultraprecise manoeuvring.
As with migrating geese, this would help with fuel efficiency when flying long distances. In the event that such a swarm of vehicles were attacked, any damaged ones could be disengaged very rapidly and a new configuration automatically adopted.
This robustness could be further enhanced by having these machines duplicate each other’s gathered data, exchange fuel in flight and adapt their grouping shape and sizes to minimise detectability.