#1334: Secureslice

Today’s invention is a new way to slice a loaf of bread.

Every other cut would be replaced by one which fell short of cutting through the bottom and one side of the loaf.

This would result in the creation of many double-thickness slices, each of which acts as a two-sided pocket.

This allows for easier sandwich making (and eating, since the contents could not drop out of the bottom). Each slice would also still be thin enough to just fit within a standard toaster.

#1333: DigiDial

I have just seen one of the latest Breitling wristwatches: a mechanical masterpiece with an electronic display but with a dial that looks designed by someone who works on fast food packaging or maybe matchboxes.

Today’s invention is a dial in the form of a digital display fitted to high-end mechanical watches. This would allow a user to choose an alternative backdrop to the clockwork-driven hands from a very large number of combinations of colour, numeral size and font etc.

This would provide effectively a whole new look every day and add extra value to a very expensive piece of machinery/jewellery.

#1332: Slurpstop

Breast-fed children get to decide themselves when they have had enough but bottle-using parents tend to keep feeding their child until the bottle is empty. This is thought to contribute to obesity and maybe even to developing diabetes.

Today’s invention is therefore a bottle which disguises the amount of formula milk left during a feed (until actually empty). It does this by being opaque and slightly heavier than usual but also by incorporating a sealed compartment part-filled with water.

This makes it difficult for a parent to judge how much milk remains (without removing the top) so that the baby can have more say in when to stop drinking.

#1331: Eccentricones

Today’s invention is an autonomous central barrier on a motorway -except that it’s not central.

Sensors count cars moving in either direction and adjust the barrier’s lateral position (a set of linked, mobile robot cones, shown in red) so that whichever side of the road currently has the bigger traffic flow gets the wider carriageway.

This smooths the movement of vehicles and reduces any tendency to tailbacks and jams.

#1330: ChopperSwopper

The twin-rotor Chinook helicopter is a remarkable design. If anyone suggested having two sets of counter-rotating interleaved rotor blades they might well be criticised for optimism bordering on naivete…my speciality, in fact.

Today’s invention is a Chinook upgrade in which each rotor blade engages its outer end with the distal rotor hub, driving that hub’s rotors around until it slows enough so that that end then becomes the inner end of the blade rotating about the distal hub.

This stresses each blade more evenly and lessens the overall sweep of the blades as shown in the diagram -in which the helicopter is flying up the page. The single blade shown swaps from hub to hub, providing drive for one rotor from the other without any need for a drive shaft (difficult, but not impossible to achieve).

#1329: Tardisub

I know that submariners are supposed to be made of stern stuff but today’s invention is a low-tech way to help improve their living conditions.

Interior designers aren’t supposed to be made of stern stuff, but they do know about how to make small spaces seem much bigger. One way is by using mirrors.

Today’s invention is to fit mirrors (plastic, impact-safe ones would be fine) to the inside surfaces of some bulkheads and cabinets on board submarines. Although the Captains Nemo wouldn’t necessarily want to view their stubble close-up, the occasional reflective patch would provide much better light distribution and an increased sense of space for people in cramped conditions.

(I imagine a windowless Mars-bound spaceship would benefit similarly).

#1328: Chewver

I often use a vacuum cleaner to clean up rubble and nails etc when I’m working on house restoration. I hate it when something gets stuck in the hose and I have to dismantle the whole thing to deal with the problem.

Today’s invention is a device which fits on the end of a vacuum cleaner hose (the hose should be made translucent, so you can see what’s happening inside, but that’s another story). The device has slightly smaller diameter than the hose itself, so any potential blockage will occur at the inlet.

When the system detects an increase in motor load due to choking, it activates a set of internal jaws which hammer backwards and forwards ‘chewing’ the plug into fragments small enough to be ‘swallowed’. These are driven by a motor powered by a cable from the cleaner body.

The jaws would be located more than a finger’s length from the inlet. If after multiple chewing motions, the motor load had not decreased, then the motor would be automatically switched off, to allow manual clearance.

#1327: Rearflection

When a back-seat passenger gets out of a car, they usually find it impossible to make use of any rear view mirrors -or they may just forget to.

The door can easily be jabbed out into the traffic stream with obvious dangerous consequences.

Today’s invention is therefore a mirror fitted to the inside of the rear door of a car. As the door catch is released, this mirror pops up, drawing attention to itself and anything approaching from behind the vehicle.

#1326: Digityping

So, just type in ‘ colondoublebackslashwww.domain.nnn ‘ after the prompt; obviously without including the quotes and stuff

This is the kind of instruction which tech support geeks give to newbie customers, and which usually results in great frustration at both ends of the phone line.

Today’s invention is a browser plug-in which shows an animated finger moving slowly across a keyboard illustrating exactly the correct sequence of keystrokes and without any possible alternative interpretations.

This would require that an image of a finger was stored hovering over each key and that a realtime image interpolation be constructed of the movement between eg A and B.

(It just occurred to me that a keyboard which could be remotely controlled in player piano mode, the keys being depressed in sequence by internal magnets, as if by some ghostly hand, might also help avoid misunderstandings when illustrating keyboard techniques).

#1325: Bakeshaker

Today’s invention is a device which can be used in any oven to minimise the amount of time for which the oven door is open. Every such opening wastes huge amounts of energy and makes the kitchen more like a sauna.

The device is in the form of an insulated hinge device which grips the bars of one of the horizontal dividers. The other end of the device clips onto a baking tray. A small radio-controlled motor opens and closes the hinge (reflecting user-selected amplitudes and frequencies).

This has the effect of repositioning the food items in the tray in order to achieve uniform cooking, without the potential for burning one’s wrists.

A more advanced system could be equipped with a temperature probe capable of oscillating the food in response to the readings taken.