#1522: DollsFace

I’m always surprised by the popularity of Barbie.

Today’s invention attempts to supply all such dolls (and even ‘Action Figures’ with a bit more emotional depth).

It consists of a rotating head with two facial expressions.

If you want to play a game in which Barbie is irritated by Ken’s complete inability to commit, then all you have to do is turn her head beneath her blonde hairdo.

#1521: SweatShirt

Some people seem to have a problem with sweat, or at least sweat stains on their clothing.

Today’s invention relieves these delicate flowers of their embarrassment.

Users would wear a pale shirt during eg exercise. This would reveal a map of their personal sweat distribution.

Their next T-shirts could then be constructed with patches of material in these zones pre-coloured so that, when wet, they became indistinguishable from the rest of the material (eg a dark grey shirt would have lighter grey patches built in).

#1520: LockBlock

Today’s invention is a novel version of the humble brick.

This takes the form of a fired ceramic component with the geometry shown. It can be used in the normal way, enabling double-thickness walls to be constructed with integral, and therefore stronger, cross-ties between them.

This design uses less mortar, spreads stresses more evenly and, in the event that a single brick is actually needed, can be cut to size, as usual.

#1519: Sidesteps

We apparently see stairs as being significantly steeper than they actually are.

Everyone is being urged to do more exercise but they are always going to be dissuaded by stairs which look formidably steep. This effect lessens as you get nearer than 50m or so.

Today’s invention is to incorporate stairs in buildings which are placed at 90 degrees to the approach direction.

This removes the illusion of a hard ascent and may significantly improve people’s determination to avoid the lift.

#1518: UnMEme

Now that we are all connected via ‘small world’ communications networks, it’s increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd.

Once you adopt some new product or behaviour, everyone you know, and everyone they know etc., is immediately able to mimic you.

That may be a compliment and no real problem for the innovative, but it’s irritating. Some things that are hard to copy allow this viral memetics to be resisted.

Ringtones are an example. Today’s invention is a ringtone which consists of your own voice saying “Excuse me I have a call.”

This avoids annoying everyone within earshot (much less intrusive than music) but it would have to be said anyway and thus saves the owner some effort (whilst allowing your incoming calls to be distinguished from others’).

It also removes anyone’s incentive to copy, even if that weren’t difficult to achieve.

#1517: Localterations

When editing a document, I often make changes to a large number of different sections in rapid succession.

Then I may realise that one of the sections modified was actually better in an earlier incarnation, or contained useful information, now deleted.

Choosing a global ‘undo’ option doesn’t help, so today’s invention is a tool which allows me to highlight a region of the document and click back in time locally to reveal the full sequence of historical updates.

#1516: Footbrake

Learning to rollerskate was a pain: literally. Making a tailbone landing on concrete always limited my childhood enjoyment of the activity.

Today’s invention is therefore skates (or skateboards) with brakes.

Inside each wheel would be a small drum brake powered by a spring which would be wound up by a learner skater’s normal forward movement. The brakes would be fitted with a wireless receiver.

The user’s mobile phone would then allow these brakes to be actuated by releasing the springs progressively, in response to a particular key press.

This would allow discreet control of the deceleration, hiding one’s Learner status (and also potentially giving even expert skaters an extra ‘handbrake turn’ facility).

#1515: Keyborobics

Everyone who spends their day sitting in front of a screen could benefit from some extra exertion.

Today’s invention is a large-scale keyboard that sits on the floor and allows someone to type, say a document, by stepping from key to key.

Obviously, it would be very frustrating for accomplished typists, but for we hunt-and-peckers, it would be little slower than normal typing speed -whilst providing additional exercise and circulatory benefits from time to time.

Installing one of these near the normal office cubicles could also introduce an extra games element to the process of in-work exercise.

#1514: ‘ZeneCleaner

It’s not that surprising that petrol stations generate large amounts of potentially toxic chemicals (Benzene and Hexane, among others).

Today’s invention aims to lessen the chance of a lungful of this stuff as you fill your tank (and prepare to fork out £60 or so for the privilege).

Each filler nozzle would have a small vacuum cleaner, activated when fuel was flowing, which would suck air and the dangerous vapours back through a valve before they could be breathed.

The vapours might then be condensed and passed back into liquid storage (although this would depend on the volume affected, since it might be possible inadvertently to alter the composition of the fuel on sale).

My guess is that eg Formula 1 pit crew already have this technology in place, for reasons of fire safety.

#1513: Touchamber

Today’s invention is a haptic interface…a system which allows someone to apparently touch a 3-D designed object.

The design is done and its geometry sent to the device. The operator puts his hand in the system’s box, whilst viewing a (stereo) display of the object. Cameras in the box, track small marks on the operator’s fingers. This creates a display of the operator’s hand on the screen, together with that of the design object itself.

As the operator’s fingers move into positions where they would be about to collide with the object, if it were actually in the box, so a robot hand with cameras attached, follows the real fingers and provides the sensation of a solid object -by opposing the motion of the real fingers.

In this way, the operator sees a lifelike hand and feels coordinated fingertip contact with an apparently solid design.