#1150: BlueSalute

For trainee military types, it’s often difficult to know who one is supposed to salute. If you make the wrong choice, you get in trouble (and with low-visibility rank markers now commonplace, as well as joint operations between different services of different countries, the task is becoming harder).

Today’s invention is a bluetooth button which clips to one’s epaulette (or brassard or gorget, or whatever).

When you approach a similarly equipped soldier or sailor or airman who is of higher rank, your button buzzes your right shoulder -prompting you to salute his/her uniform (and helping you avoid peeling another 1000 potatoes).

#1149: Slowsaw

When cutting up firewood, with nothing else to think about, it occurred to me that the process might be better organised.

People who want to saw wood slowly, using a normal ripsaw and a consistent action, but who have limited musclepower can make use of today’s invention.

It consists of a simple vise which grips wood of any shape in the usual way. After each stroke of the saw, the vise (and wood) is rotated precisely (using a computer-controlled motor), so that a perpendicular to the saw contacts the wood surface symmetrically.

This minimises the amount of wood sawn through in each stroke and thus the rate at which energy needs to be expended.

#1148: 3D-Prototaping

Today’s invention is a way to create computer-generated printed shapes on a roll of transparent tape.

These shapes are printed accurately so that when the roll is manufactured, translucent images of 3-D objects appear within the body of the tape (each made up of printing on successive ‘slices’ of tape).

This could be used to draw attention to an otherwise unattractive product, for marketing purposes.

#1147: Pooltable

Today’s invention is a table in the form of a sheet of glass. This is intended to simulate the surface of a pond.

The table legs are made of simulated reeds (made of metal wires or tubes) which are bent at the glass surface to mimic faithfully the effect of refractive index change.

(Not shown is a pair of model ducks, attached to opposite sides of the glass sheet to give the impression of reflection in the surface water).

#1146: Portapad

Helicopters throw up massive amounts of dust when they have to operate off unprepared surfaces. This is bad because aero engines don’t enjoy inhaling the stuff and also the pilot’s view of the landing site is obscured.

Today’s invention is a lightweight mat which is carried beneath a helicopter in a tube. When a landing is planned, the tube is lowered to the ground and motorised wheels on either end rotate the tube so that the mat rolled up inside anchors itself at one side and is extracted -forming a flat, dust free helipad.

After take-off, the drive wheels reverse, rolling the mat back into the tube which is then hoisted back up under the belly of the aircraft.

#1145: Sellevator

Today’s invention is a vending machine which is wheeled into an elevator car and secured there.

This allows people using the lift to make purchases whilst in transit and can be replaced with a refilled machine at the start of each new day.

Each machine would plug into the electrical services of the lift, reducing the required number of vending machines, promoting movement of people from department to department within a corporation and potentially providing greater comfort for anyone stuck inside.

#1144: Buguide

Anyone whose been to the cinema knows it’s possible to create an artificial, high-precision, 3-D stereo sound field. Now imagine equipping a room with a bank of speakers which generate a sound field corresponding to that which might created by a single noisy insect moving around inside.

This acoustic point source could be made to appear to move about a room, or within a vehicle, allowing someone to follow the sound as if following a real insect.

This might be used to help direct people around a predetermined circuit. It might work as a replacement for the voice in satnav systems, for example. By simply driving towards the noise of the virtual insect (as created in realtime by the car’s sound system).

#1143: Searchistory

Today’s invention is an augmented reality application which allows a group of people conducting a search to collaborate more effectively (They might be scanning an area for hidden explosives or searching for evidence in connection with some crime, for example).

Each user wears a set of glasses which knows its position and orientation and projects a bright, individually coloured patch of light onto the surfaces he is looking at. Everone’s glasses also contain a camera which detects and tracks his coloured patch.

The information about those areas which have been inspected, by anyone in the group, is pooled and obscured in everyone’s field of view.

For a more thorough scrutiny, it might be arranged that each patch of space need be independently inspected by say two people before being obscured.