#1439: Skipogo

Today’s invention is a combination of two old favourites -the pogo stick and the skipping rope.

The rope is replaced by a rigid hoop, the ends of which are attached to the pogo stick’s handlebars and which are driven overhead by a small motor.

The direction and speed of the motor can be determined by the user or set to operate randomly, so that the user is challenged to jump the stick over the rope -and thus improve their fitness and coordination.

#1438: RocketRound

Today’s invention is a way to boost the speed of a tank.

The vehicle in question carries a number of shells containing solid rocket propellant. This would be specially formulated to allow relatively slow-burning, sustained-thrust output.

When an extra burst of acceleration is required, the tank’s main gun is rotated to point behind it and a series of these special shells is fired. The resulting exhaust from the gun barrel provides enough drive to eg force a tank through some barrier or out of boggy terrain.

#1437: FallPhone

Cats can adjust their moments of inertia as they fall from a height so that they tend to land feet first.

Today’s invention exploits this thinking by equipping eg cellphones with mutipart batteries (or other masses) which can be driven rapidly from place to place within the casing.

If a phone (or other fragile, portable electronic device) is dropped, for example, the accelerometers on board, which would normally just switch it off before impact, detect the axes of spin and move the battery masses so as to orientate the device (since rotational momentum is conserved).

This ensures the phone will always land on a small, impact-absorbing pad at one end and thus avoid being damaged.

#1436: BlastBoxes

If an airliner turns out to be carrying a bomb, hidden in the luggage/freight hold, today’s invention is an internal arrangement designed to protect the plane and its occupants.

The baggage etc would be held in containers as usual, but these would be located on heavily reinforced racks so that if a bomb detonated, the containers would be expelled rearwards from the fuselage, by the explosion itself, leaving the plane free to continue.

Each container would have its own parachute to allow later collection of the luggage etc and also any forensic evidence.

#1435: Segmentimer

I began thinking about how much time each of the segments in a 7-seg digital clock display spent being illuminated.

The image shows the distribution I calculated (with red more frequently ‘on’ than orange, and the central colon omitted).

Today’s invention is to make such clocks with more robust segments corresponding to the red patches etc, in order that product lifetime is maximised. This might apply more to the mechanical flipover devices that can be found in eg airports and train stations.

Extending this thinking to digital calculators, if financial data obey Benford’s law then maybe the longterm distribution of segment activity for a business’ calculator (clearly different from the clock example above) could be recorded in order to indicate, in an instant, whether eg a company’s financial transactions were fraudulent or not.

#1434: Barrelauncher

Multistage rockets work well but today’s invention is a possible enhancement.

Each stage is nested within the previous one, so that when its annular rocket is ignited, the expanding gas pushes against the mass of the previous, expended can and provides the subsequent, nested stages with some extra boost as they travel together down the bore (like a shell fired from a flying cannon).

Having a large number of stages would allow orbit to be achieved, even if there were some misfires, in a way that would make a conventional rocket just too long and unwieldy.

#1433: StreamLift

Given that lifts are getting faster and traveling through greater heights, the lifetime cost of overcoming their air resistance may be significant.

Today’s invention is therefore to attach streamlining shells to the tops and bottoms of lifts so that they may create much less turbulence within their shafts.

If these could be made in a lightweight, reinforced material, the underside one could also act as a crush zone in the event of an unplanned descent.

#1432: WedgeHead

Sick to death of screwdrivers which can’t stay in contact with their screws, today’s invention is a combination which remains firmly together during screwing in or out.

It takes the form of a screw with a tapering notch made in the head. All sizes of this screw can make use of a single screwdriver with a correspondingly tapered blade which fits inside snugly…in such a way that springing out under load is impossible.

This design also allows the user to attach a screw to the driver blade firmly, so that the screw can then be used in places where fingers can’t reach to steady it.

#1431: SharedSize

Online purchases are increasingly encouraged by recommendation engines and social networking.

Today’s invention is a way to allow people to swap clothing with others who share the same measurements.

A website like Amazon would note who bought eg dresses in size 12. These contact details would allow those people to opt in to a system which then enabled them to be identified as buyers of certain items, to discuss their views and offer to swap clothes in the knowledge that they will fit.

This results in better social networking, enhanced product information via customer feedback and a greener, less wasteful approach to fashion.

#1430: Tablind

Today’s invention is a tablecloth which is stored like a rollerblind in the form of a springloaded roll at one end of a table.

This allows a less-than-pristine tablecloth to be quickly removed for activities requiring a clean surface -such as doing homework -but without having to wipe everything down and fold coverings up for temporary storage.

Use a strong enough spring and you can even perform the old stage trick of pulling the tablecloth out from under that vase on the table top.