#1366: RollReel

Sick of staring at those old plain-painted plaster walls?

Today’s invention is a networked projector which allows the user to download wallpaper patterns (and user-chosen combinations of sub-patterns) from a large database.

These are then colour-tweaked, according to taste, and projected onto one’s walls to give a realistic impression of the flock effect William Morris paper of your dreams -in situ.

Press the button and a selected number of rolls of personalised paper are in the post to you.

#1365: Lesstanding

Railways again. This time I’m interested in improving the use of space in carriages and the process of moving people about.

Passengers currently have to jostle to board through one of many side doors (after wondering where exactly those doors will end up). Instead, today’s invention is a train in which only the front and rear coaches open their doors when it halts (with door locations marked on the platform).

This allows people to leave, two by two, via one and enter via the other. The space around all the other (closed) doors would be filled with (~8*3) extra seats for the poor paying passengers to actually sit down on.

I’m sure the (parallel) boarding/ unboarding time would not be increased, since everyone would know which direction to move in, causing minimal turbulence.

In an emergency, even the closed doors would be flung open and people could climb out over the seats.

(The extra seats could be relocatable, in case a carriage was required to be used in front or rear position. Bicycles? Rent them at the station).

#1364: Railbroad

Never mind Chinese superbuses, today’s invention is a way to make more effective use of the rail networks.

A double-width train (black outline) could be built to run astride two adjacent railtracks (most tracks are laid in pairs; an up line and a down line). This would necessitate that all oncoming traffic be halted for a while of course but would allow very heavy loads to be transported (and with the extra width, potentially also at higher speeds).

Intermediate sized trains (blue) straddling three rails might also be used, as well as a small central design (red) which could be passed over by a black design running on the two outermost rails only.

#1363: Helicescape

Escaping from a skyscraper, if it’s on fire for example, is always going to pose problems.

Since you often can’t use the lifts in an emergency, today’s invention provides a rapid route to the bottom for everyone -whether disabled or able-bodied.

A helter-skelter is built into the corner of each skyscraper as shown. This has access doors in the corner of every floor, so that occupants are in no doubt about their exit route. The helix itself would be made of fireproof material and have sliding mats attached to the interior surfaces.

People would be able to grab these and descend at a safe terminal sliding velocity to the bottom.

The slide would be made of one standard component, based on the (uniform) inter-window dimensions.

A fancier version might even be made to corkscrew upwards into position, from beneath ground level, breaking through windows when the building needed evacuated.

#1362: Panican

Have you ever had to break one of those alarm panels which are labeled “In the event of an emergency, break glass”?

Even those which are made of thin plexiglass and etched so as to crack especially easily make people think twice before activating them. In an emergency, that delay of even a few seconds, whilst one considers how to do the breaking and what damage your hand may sustain in the process, can be significant.

Today’s invention is therefore a reuse of the ring-pull can top, such as can be found on eg a tin full of chopped tomatoes. Instead of breaking any glass, the familiar ringpull would allow a metal disc to be easily removed, exposing an alarm button (or even using the broken seal itself as an electrical alarm switch).

People would be much more willing to pull the ring than smash a panel into fragments.

#1361: WarmWiper

There has been a fair amount of hype about touchscreen smudge attacks (ie potential attacks). I’m pretty sure this has been made up by a journalist but in any case the problem is easily fixed by routinely changing the spatial order of the symbols to be touched.

A more serious problem occurs with existing, fixed key pads in very high security applications.

If eg a bank employee is under surveillance, by criminals using a super-sensitive thermal camera, his or her entry sequence will leave traces on the pad, with the residual temperature pattern varying according to the order in which these have been pressed.

Today’s invention is to supply each such installed pad with an automatically-activated hot air gun which can instantly eliminate any such thermal distribution.

#1360: MindFull

There is a big problem with people overeating -often it seems because they aren’t paying attention to their meals.

Today’s invention is a pair of spectacles to be worn by people interested in eating more healthily.

These have wrap-around opaque ‘lenses’ which allow the wearer to look down on his or her plate but not elsewhere.

These look like conventional (cool) sunglasses and allow the diner to take part in conversation but also encourage them to concentrate on the taste and texture of the food (so that they will be much more aware of when they have had enough).

#1359: Pokair

Todays invention is a poker for wood-burning stoves, ovens and fireplaces.

Instead of just aerating the fuel by agitation and exposing fresh surface material, this device contains a replaceable cannister of compressed air in the handle.

When jostling the fire, a trigger on the poker can be pulled to inject a stream of air and thus stoke a reluctant fire more effectively.

#1358: Hilliards

Just as golf isn’t a sport (in my opinion) neither is snooker.

Today’s invention is intended to inject games like pool, snooker and billiards with some extra interest -by providing the table with an element of variability which requires the players to detect this and play accordingly.

Each table would be equipped with a number of domed rods capable of being driven vertically upwards by no more than 1mm or so from beneath the baize. This height distribution would be determined at random before a game and controlled by an integrated computer.

Players would compete to play as normal a game as possible on this slightly undulating surface. Requiring a greater understanding of a more complicated, 3-D dynamics, this would lessen the tendency for one player to get on a roll and play uninterruptedly for very long periods.

#1357: BlimpBags

Crisp packets are designed with a foil lining to ensure the product stays fresh.

Today’s invention is to add some novelty to a rather conservative market segment by making more use of the metallised bags.

Fill them with helium and sell them, like balloons, attached to a string.

Helium wouldn’t stay in the packets nearly as long as air is kept out, but, given the small weight of product per bag, imagine the advertising benefit to the company that tries this out first of having people walk back from the shops with their brand held aloft.