#1547: DragDrop

I love the exuberance and controlled craziness of drag racing.

Today’s invention is a new event. Cars would arrive at the start line, having already warmed their tyres with a traditional burnout.

Each would then have its rear end jacked up, by only a couple of cm, allowing a fixed period of engine revving with wheels in the air.

The driver would be required to choose the best speed and acceleration of the drive wheels to launch faster than his opponent when both sets of jacks were lowered at the same instant, dropping the spinning tyres into sudden contact with the tarmac.


#1546: Coriolift

Aircraft carriers have to stay operational in heavy seas.

Today’s invention is a device which augments a pilot’s judgment about exactly when to launch his or her aircraft.

The deck of a carrier will oscillate according to speed and sea conditions, and its amplitude and period are relatively easy to record from moment to moment.

Sensors would be installed in a vessel to monitor this deck motion and help an onboard computer predict the optimal instant to fire the steam catapult for launch (as shown). This would predict the position and orientation of the deck, at which the takeoff airspeed would be maximised.

A version of this system, operating in reverse, could be used to help with timing landings also (in order to lower the stresses on aircraft imposed by the arrestor hook).

#1545: Velcroppose

Today’s invention is a form of Velcro in which the side with hooks and the side with loops are held apart by some extra long ‘hairs’ made of the same material -but longer.

These hairs act as springs so that the Velcro will mesh and join only when the two sides are forced together sufficiently strongly. The hairs are sparse and thin enough not to obstruct the normal hooking process when the faces get close enough.

The force required to join the strips can be preset by altering the length of the hairs.

This would help avoid the problem associated with the hooks side becoming attached to and removing clumps of eg wool from passing sweaters.

#1544: WetWalls

Today’s invention is a way to provide surface ships with additional protection against incoming ballistics (such as heavy machinegun fire or rocket-propelled grenades from pirate ships).

It’s well known that high energy projectiles destroy themselves on penetrating a relatively small depth of water.

The idea is therefore to attach to surface ships a number of modular, tanks. These would normally be air filled and travel around the waterline, providing some extra stability in choppy weather.

When under attack, the tanks would be dropped into the sea, allowed to fill with water and then hoisted into position as shown. This would provide an effective, shell-proof barrier around the deck, lower the vessel’s profile and allow vital extra time to call in support.

#1543: WinnerWindow

Vegas pit bosses will be delighted by today’s invention. It takes gaming machines a little closer to the equally ghastly world of reality TV.

Imagine a one-armed bandit-style gaming machine, equipped with a camera and a display screen.

Such a machine would, when not in use, constantly show a movie loop of people who had won whilst playing that particular machine…exactly at the moment they won.

This would be compelling for the passing public and encourage them to play the machine whose winning faces most appealed to them.

#1542: HotFlush

A restaurant manager who’s a friend of a (Facebook) friend, alerted me this week to the fact that public toilets, which are frequently blocked, can be almost always unblocked using a basin of soapy, hot water.

Today’s invention is a public toilet attachment. This has a sensor which detects that the water level is rising too high when flushed -indicating a blockage.

This activates a heater within the cistern which warms a volume of water. To this is added automatically a few squirts of detergent/disinfectant and the warmed liquid is then dropped into the bowl in advance of the next flush.

As well as being activated by management, this function could be made available to customers via a coin-in-the-slot mechanism (and might appeal to some people as an extra hygiene measure, even for unblocked lavatories).

#1541: ShowSherpa

When you go to a museum you can fork out some extra cash and get a belt-load of electronics to provide you with a guided tour.

When you attend a giant tradeshow, such systems are rare. So today’s invention is an audio/visual guide to visiting such a tradeshow, based on regular smartphones.

A multi-day show can be a confusing and tiring event. This system would not only give an audio-visual description of the booths to which you were nearest (based on GPS), it would also provide extra contextual information about the individual exhibiting staff, for example, to whom you might want to talk (or schedule a meeting).

Exchange of virtual business cards of course would be possible, as would an optimised personal route through the event, based on your profile of professional interests, freestuff sought, eating requirements, current local crowd density and your planned visit duration.

#1540: Avision

Today’s invention is based on the interesting finding that many birds have evolved to look downwards or sideways when in flight, rather than ahead. They are also sensitive to movement, rather than stable visual phenomena.

This may account for their odd tendency to collide with objects (including planes) despite their superb visual capabilities.

I therefore suggest that aircraft be equipped with a scanning searchlight, pointing ahead and downwards. This would flash the outline of a giant bird of prey on the ground or onto clouds in front of the plane.

Flocks of birds, looking downwards, would be startled by the effect and turn tail before a birdstrike on the aeroplane could occur.

#1539: HotTub(e)

I was surprised to discover that heating a domestic aquarium can cost as much as $50 a year.

Plasma TVs give off enormous amounts of waste heat. So today’s invention is to create a fishtank with a plasma tv on one side (probably facing outwards, so you don’t have to watch your programmes through waving kelp). Much of he waste heat from the screen’s electronics can be used to heat the tank’s water.

This might be mounted on a vertical-axis turntable, so that one can choose the ‘fish channel’ by rotating the system.

Obviously you’d need remote speakers, so the poor fish weren’t disturbed by the sound.

#1538: Passtream

Motor racing, especially Formula 1, is going to great lengths to make overtaking easier and avoid the usual high-speed processions which are hurting their TV ratings.

Today’s invention is to design all the cars around a similar rhombus-shaped plan, as shown.

This would reduce any sudden changes in flow cross section during the overtaking move, lessen the aerodynamic benefit of tailgating and thus greatly reduce the drag and buffeting when one car (yellow) attempts to pull out from behind to overtake another (red).