#1142: SmellWell

Medical staff are notorious for not washing their hands enough.

Today’s invention is intended to encourage handwashing and thus to protect patients.

Every door handle in a hospital or clinic would be replaced with one which exudes a small amount of harmless chemical when the door is operated. This chemical would smell dreadful (I leave that part to your imagination).

Patients would be quick to complain about being treated by medical staff with smelly hands and thus doctors and nurses (and patients too) would have to keep washing -thus frequently cleaning off the smell as well as the toxic bugs.

#1141: Tubrush

Today’s invention is a toothbrush head which replaces the normal top on a toothpaste tube.

Instead of squirting paste onto the head, it can now be squeezed through from behind the bristles.

When finished teethcleaning, the brush is run under a tap, washing off all surface paste (which otherwise encrusts the tube nozzle and cap).

#1140: i-Lids

I’m prepared to believe that staring at a screen all day, whilst rarely blinking, allows my corneas to dry out (not to mention my contact lenses).

Apparently dry eyes are a problem, but this seems like a ridiculously elaborate solution.

Instead today’s invention is briefly to invert the colours on one’s screen randomly in time (and with a small variation in duration).

This will cause the screen viewer to blink and also remain difficult to habituate to over time (I know because I used to use an ancient terminal which refreshed its screen frequently in a blink-inducing flash). This inversion would minimise any discontinuity in the task being performed.

I’d also propose that the inversion should start at top and bottom of the screen -progressing rapidly towards the middle to more strongly suggest blinking.

#1139: BagStairs

Falling down is the second biggest cause of accidental death (after car accidents).

Today’s invention is therefore an airbag which can be located in a pod within a bannister or handrail.

Sensors in the stair treads would determine where the next footfalls should occur…if this pattern were noticeably disrupted suddenly or if there were a sufficiently hard impact on a tread-based sensor, it would automatically fire the airbag inflation mechanism.

The inflation process could be less violent than in a vehicle, so as not to upend other people in transit, but still allow cushioning, slowing and arresting of the victim’s fall.

A fall would trigger other bags lower down the staircase (especially one on the bottom landing).

#1138: SteadyPointer

Laser pointers tend to jitter all over the screen -especially in the hand of a nervous presenter.

Today’s invention is a laser pointer which allows the shaky presenter to press a button when the red dot is roughly in the right place.

Motion sensors in the pointer then lock the beam onto that location -shining the laser at that point irrespective of where the presenter’s hand is wandering (within reason).

Another button press and the pointer can be (unsteadily) moved to the next required location.

#1137: Shareading

Poor Mr Murdoch. Now it seems that his old world of online newspapers is going to start charging for access to certain content (again).

Today’s invention is an alternative prop for the existing advertising-based business model, which is currently so under pressure.

The idea is to allow readers to move to the next page of a news (or other) online item only once they have clicked to share it with someone else.

#1136: ClipFilter

In order to minimise the possibility of an automatic weapon jamming (when someone’s life might depend on it), ammunition needs to be highly consistent.

Today’s invention is a device which fits in the intake end of a magazine. This allows rounds to be passed through it into a magazine itself. As this happens, each round is rotated about its long axis under an internal light and asymmetries detected -using the equivalent of a cellphone camera.

As the rotation occurs, each bullet is also weighed to ensure that the amount of propellent is within specification. If a problem is detected, a round would be ejected onto the floor.

Since jamming often only occurs after a bad sequence of rounds, this device might be used to randomise the bullets by weight and asymmetry in order to reduce the accumulation of dynamical errors (when using cheap ammunition) which contribute to jamming.

An upgrade to this idea would be to fit it to the lower end of a magazine with an open trough into which bullets could be dropped a handful at a time. This would to allow rounds to be added rapidly (and tested) without swapping magazines.

#1135: Readaids

e-books are now starting to sell.

Today’s invention is twofold:
1) When reading any kind of text, I’d find it much easier to follow if the characters named had a small facial image inserted automatically and consistently in the text (via eg image search).

2) I’d like to be able to see a map, for any book, of the dwell time on each page. This could form a simple linear graph and it could be communicated back to eg Amazon with the results averaged so as to characterise the kind of reading required (ie painstaking, accelerating pace, stopped halfway through etc).

#1134: Chewbrush

People often chew the ends of their writing instruments.

Today’s invention is a disposable cylindrical sleeve which fits on the end of a pen or pencil.

Bristles, like those on a toothbrush, extend radially outwards from the sleeve so that chewers can clean their teeth and massage their gums -rather than grinding plastic or wood splinters into their mouths.

After use, the sleeve can be discarded and replaced. Sleeves might be flavoured and/or pretreated with mouthwash.

#1133: ChargeChamber

Various electronic devices (which shall remain nameless) seem to be developing a reputation for bursting into flames during charging.

Today’s invention offers a way to ensure that such charging can occur safely when unsupervised. It’s a ceramic-lined, airtight suitcase, big enough to accommodate items as large as a laptop+transformer or cordless drill battery unit etc.

This would have a power socket moulded into the casing and accessible from inside (with a cable running outside to a mains socket).

The case would contain temperature sensors and a smoke alarm which would activate an internal halon extinguisher in the event of an overheating problem.