#1321: Rainvelopes

Today’s invention is a transparent plastic umbrella with double-thickness panels. Each of these acts as an envelope into which can be slotted, from the perimeter with the eye-snagging pointy bits, a flexible, triangular insert; visible both from inside and outside.

These inserts can be pre-coloured, to allow the user to coordinate their outfit with their brolly, branded exclusively or contain hand-drawn images to provide an extra dimension of rainy-day personality.

#1320: PipeDriver

Digging trenches for underground piping is so Victorian (not that I’ve got anything against Victorian construction: most of it is still standing).

These days, if you want to lay down pipes without closing the roads and building a trench network, directional boring techniques can be used, but it’s all pretty elaborate, costly and short-range.

Today’s invention is a way to build underground conduits without disrupting the streets above too much.

A hammer (orange) is used to drive a stiff, thin-walled curved pipe underground. The hammer arm length and pipe bend radius can be selected beforehand according to the required distance to be piped.

Segments of pipe are attached together in a sequence (using different bend radii can provide extra directional control).

When the pipe surfaces, it can be driven backwards by the hammer, attached to a reamer of slightly bigger diameter. Finally, a conduit (perhaps containing fibre cables) can be driven through the arc-shaped tunnel and cemented in place.

#1319: SafeSmoke

Today’s invention is an anti burglary device which consists of an insert to one’s chimney.

An electrically activated, slow release smoke cannister is inserted high inside the chimney breast.

On leaving home, this is operated by setting the domestic alarm so that potential thieves are deterred by the sight of an apparently active fireplace.

#1318: PercussionPrint

Today’s invention is a printer which prints in a rhythmic way, so as to emulate the musical sound of drums in a band.

Users could choose the style of drumming, from pipeband to samba, even specifying this in the page setup instructions.

This would inevitably slow printing down a little but it would turn an unpleasant background drone into an engaging, user-defined ‘tune’.

#1317: CooLid

Laptops habitually overheat.

Today’s invention is an attempt to lessen that problem by embedding the processor in the lid, behind the screen.

The lid would have holes in the front and back surface, enabling natural convention cooling of the interior (rather than relying on noisy fans in a horizontal box, as is the usual approach).

Obviously there would be some need to ensure that the machine remained balanced with a lighter than usual keyboard and a heavier upright screen.

#1316: Highsign

When a floor is being mopped, signs appear saying, effectively, ‘if you slip, don’t sue us.’

These actually introduce a trip hazard, especially when placed at the top of stairs, for example.

Today’s invention warns people of wet floors, but creates no such trip problem.

A lightweight sign with a clamp type suction device is attached to the ceiling, instead (this could be done using eg a balloon, but would probably be too fussy and shortlived). The sign might be mostly transparent, so that collisions between passing pedestrians could be minimised.

Also, an extendable neck version might be made to help with varying ceiling heights.

#1315: LabourHarbour

I’ve been talking to some engineers this week who design harbours. There is a fashion for vaguely annular ones, apparently, among the super-rich.

When they have walls (ie they aren’t just jetties), wave action is intensified within them (acting as lenses) and the boats on the inside end up crashing up and down on 10m waves.

Today’s invention is to make use of this by designing a harbour which can accommodate larger vessels. This would have a conical underwater base into which debris from the ships would fall after waves had smashed them together for a few days. The cone could be dragged onshore using a winch and the contents reprocessed to smaller scales.

The noise would be dreadful, but this would eventually reduce even ships to fragments in a lower cost way than having people with blowtorches do the job in months.

#1314: SeeSnake

People trip over cables all the time.

People also have peripheral vision which is very sensitive to movement (something to do with spotting dangerous beasties lurking in the long grass).

Today’s invention is a device which plugs eg into a USB port on a laptop and which flicks the power cord every few seconds.

This allows passers by to become more aware of the moving cable and step over it safely.

(A better version would be incorporated into plugtops in general, but that would require somewhat more complex design).

#1313: StockStick

Today’s invention is an emergency crutch for wounded soldiers, based on their existing rifle.

In the event of a legwound, a soldier could detach the barrel of his rifle from the breech mechanism and allow it to slide out of the stock until it could be secured in place, as shown, using a thumbwheel.

Removal of part of the shoulder stock would then form a crutch and allow the individual to move away from the conflict more rapidly to a place of comparative safety.

#1312: PostView

When using a networked printer, that ‘page preview’ thing never works well enough to be relied upon. Inevitably the printer is located half a day’s walk away from your desk, so you will make a print, trek, gasp in surprise at the ugly errors it contains, bin it and repeat a few times.

This wastes time and paper.

Today’s invention is a network printer which scans what it has just printed and sends you a copy electronically. You will almost certainly want to improve on the first version, so it will then offer you the option of feeding the paper back through the machine for another print on the other side.