Archive for: April 2011

29th April 2011

#1581: Sprayawake

Filed under: Feasible inventions - 29 Apr 2011

According to a recent report, many young people don’t wake when a traditional fire alarm sounds at night.

That’s a very serious problem which today’s invention seeks to address.

It takes the form of a conventional smoke alarm which is secured to the ceiling above each young person’s pillow. This device also accommodates a reservoir which can be filled with tap water (say 3 litres).

When the alarm is triggered, the tap water is released, spraying the pillow area with a stream of water. Very few children would sleep through both the aural alarm and the soaking.

Whilst this may be a problem for houses where false alarms are frequent, it’s much better to soak the bed once or twice than to leave open the prospect that a child will be harmed.

28th April 2011

#1580: ShadeSheath

Filed under: Feasible inventions - 28 Apr 2011

When opening those vertical blinds which can admit light by sliding to one side or twisting in place, two problems occur.

The first is that the cords for the two functions tangle. Yuk.
The second is that no-one can tell which to pull on to achieve the option they want.

Today’s invention is therefore a clip-on sheath for the cords, one for each pair. These keep all the cords from getting knotted and still allow free movement by pulling them. Each sheath carries a clear diagram indicating which set does which.

The two sheaths might even clip together to keep the whole package as visually unintrusive as possible.

#1579: Moovon

Filed under: Feasible inventions - 28 Apr 2011

Customer service. Sometimes this happens as a result of a real desire to please and sometimes just as a result of competitor pressure.

Having just had the old ‘I’m afraid not’ response to a reasonable request to buy something slightly non-standard, today’s invention is a website for crowd-sourcing, for each company, a list of most-direct competitors. These might be ranked by customer ratings, or whatever, with only say the top three competitors appearing.

Consumers would then know who to talk to next and companies would know they knew.

26th April 2011

#1578: FallFin

Filed under: Possible inventions - 26 Apr 2011

When you make a parachute jump, the impact as you hit the ground is similar to that experienced when jumping off a 12 foot wall (who would be crazy enough to do that?)

You are supposed to do a parachute landing fall, but even so, many professional jumpers still get hurt on landing (especially when the terrain is rough and there is a crosswind).

Today’s invention is a device to help cushion the impact. It consists of a springy foam keel or blade in the shape of a wishbone. Before landing, the user would slot his feet into the footrests, lock his bent knees into the blade sides and hold onto the two handles.

This helps ensures the correct landing position is adopted and the blade absorbs a huge amount of impact energy when the ground suddenly rushes up.

If the blade is not broken, it could even have a small wheel fitted to allow eg soldiers to transport a significant weight when the wishbone becomes reused as a form of wheelbarrow.

24th April 2011

#1577: TurnTorque

Filed under: Whimsical inventions - 24 Apr 2011

I’ve always been a bit underwhelmed by the way in which vehicles steer. There is such a lot of mechanical complexity and tyre scrubbing on tarmac which seems inelegant.

Today’s invention is a change of direction in changing direction.

A vehicle would have all four wheels fixed in the forward direction. To turn, the rear pair would be subject to a sharp accelerative torque, causing the vehicle to ‘pull a wheelie’. This would only need to raise the front wheels off the ground by a few mm.

Whilst the front two were airborne, one of the rear wheels would have a small extra torque applied, rotating the body of the vehicle so as to point in a new direction when the front wheels descended.

All of this would be under computer control for safety and for eg parking, the process could be repeated in reverse; applying the torque first to the front pair of wheels.

23rd April 2011

#1576: HatchTop

Filed under: Feasible inventions - 23 Apr 2011

Lots of open-top sportscars used to have a tonneau: a glorified tarpaulin which covered the cockpit except for a gap through which the driver’s head and shoulders would protrude.

Today’s invention is an updated tonneau in which the normal hard roof of a car can be automatically raised or lowered on pillars as shown. The windows raise or lower as normal, except that their upper edges are connected to the roof.

When driving with the roof down, a large axially-split sunroof is opened like a pair of hatches, allowing either the driver or the driver and passenger to have their heads in the airflow.

22nd April 2011

#1575: ShaveSock

Filed under: Possible inventions - 22 Apr 2011

Various female athletes I know object to shaving their legs when going running in shorts -and yet don’t want to be stared at by morons who seem to think hair is evil.

Today’s invention is a pair of training tights which can be worn on the lower legs. These have an open-weave construction and are held in position at the top and bottom by elastic loops around knee and ankle.

The tights have circumferential bands of heavier fabric. During running, hairs naturally poke through the weave and as the weighted rings oscillate vertically, under the normal running action, the hairs are shaved off.

Wearing the tights during training runs at the start of the bare-legs season would be enough to automatically remove any leg hair.

#1574: PaceProfile

Filed under: Possible inventions - 22 Apr 2011

I’m interested in the idea of a sub-two-hour marathon. The most common view seems to be that, if this is ever achieved, it will happen on a flat course.

It might be said that any hills on a marathon circuit add to finish times. When I plod around a much shorter, hillier route, however, I’m always aware that it’s a lot faster/easier in one direction than the other. In other words, the order in which any hills occur has a big effect on the completion time.

In particular, hills with a small, but sustained, upward gradient are good to encounter near the start so that the descent to the finish line can be used to boost one’s overall speed, when fatigued, nearer the end.

Today’s invention is therefore a marathon course specifically tuned to enable record times.

It would be designed with a number of sustained, gentle hills in the first half and a sequence of steeper descents towards the end. The precise slopes and their spacing could be determined from a programme of treadmill tests.

Once the best course profile was determined, this could be searched for among the known routes through cities or created synthetically inside a stadium, using multiple loops of an undulating, temporary track.

20th April 2011

#1573: Metrunome

Filed under: Feasible inventions - 20 Apr 2011

Today’s invention is an inversion of this one.

A simple pressure switch in one running shoe feeds information about one’s running pace to a portable music device.

If you are running at less than your preset target pace, in terms of footstrikes per minute, the music will be begin being played correspondingly slower than normal and vice versa.

This mechanism provides both feedback to a runner who is off the correct speed and also a strong incentive to adjust.

19th April 2011

#1572: Chasecase

Filed under: Possible inventions - 19 Apr 2011

I couldn’t find this in the course of my usual patent searching, so here goes…

Today’s invention is robotic suitcases that follow the owner about. The cases each have powered wheels and sensors which allow them to form a (disconnected) line behind the owner -like ducklings (the owner would strap a sensor to his/her ankle).

This would allow rapid movement with more luggage than could be carried.

The spacing between cases could be automatically adjusted to cope with crowd conditions. If they were scattered by pressing crowds, they would automatically reform (like BOIDS) or, if separated by too great a distance, they might stop and issue an alarm.

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