#1641: SeatSink

Racing cyclists are obsessive about drag reduction. This is about the only thing I have in common with them.

Today’s invention is a bicycle seat post for racing bikes.

When the cyclist stands in the pedals to race uphill, the seat post withdraws into the frame, thus lessening drag associated with having a long cylinder thrashing around in the airflow from side to side.

The seat might also be especially aerodynamic, with a tapering rear profile.

The rider would then simply touch the lowered seat with his behind when the hill was climbed, for it to rise back into position and lock in place.

#1640: Lightrain

Today’s invention is a train in which every other carriage has no wheels.

It is instead coupled to its nearest neighbour carriages by a large hinge at either end. These support the weight of the carriage and its occupants as the train passes along the track.

The unwheeled coaches can be made much more like aircraft cabins: strong but not made of Victorian ironwork.

This arrangement greatly lessens the mass of the entire train, whilst leaving unaffected the weight of the engine(s) which are necessary to achieve frictional purchase on the rails.

Naturally, a huge saving in fuel cost is anticipated due to avoiding having to accelerate all that undercarriage mass.

#1639: PunchBowl

I love the competitiveness of boxing but brain damage is a real threat from which no conventional sparring helmet can protect you.

Today’s invention is therefore an unconventional head protector for boxers.

It consists of a plexiglass dome attached to a robot arm. Both boxers would wear one, each bolted to their own ringside robot which could skirt the ringside ledge very fast.

The idea is that the dome would constantly sense its position relative to the wearer’s head -maybe every few milliseconds. The dome would always maintain a distance from the outside of a boxer’s cranium.

When an opponent lands a punch on the dome, the robot arm would react very rapidly to resist both the motion of the incoming glove and the subsequent travel of the dome -so that punches to the head could be automatically recorded without any contact actually being made.

Even if a boxer slipped, the arm would maintain the dome/head distance and then perhaps help cushion the impact between head, dome and canvas.

#1638: HourGlass

Even though I’m sceptical about the net value of bottle recycling, I like bottlebanks -maybe it’s partly the urge to avoid waste.

One problem, though, is the terrible continuous noise created when people drive up at random times and smash the contents of several boxes full of empties.

Today’s invention is a way for this smashing to occur only at fixed times.

Glass items would be left in a series of plastic milk crates on top of a cylindrical housing (thus creating very little noise). The crates have no bottom floor.

An inner cylinder (blue) with holes rotates so that when the holes and bottle/jars coincide, the glassware falls through and makes a smashing noise.

This system rotates at a speed which causes the cratefuls all to drop through on the hour, thus causing much less disruptive noise -like a town clock striking.

In addition, the cylinder wall allows people to insert bottles in holes at different heights. As the inner cylinder rotates, these positioned bottles fall inwards creating a slow, introductory ‘chiming’ before the main crash.

#1637: Parallegibility

I was traveling today with someone who owns an e-reader. We have different reading tastes (and speeds).

Today’s invention is to equip such e-readers with the ability to display two different pages side by side on the screen.

This would allow readers separately to change pages, whilst sharing the same device (try doing that with a single old-style book).

#1636: Tempereature

Cooked food should always be served piping hot…right?

Well, surely we are past the stage of requiring that everything be sold at a potentially dangerous temperature -just to prove it has had its bacteria stunned into submission.

Today’s invention is an optional extra service for consumers of ‘fast’ food.

Children in particular have difficulty eating food that is too hot for them, so as an alternative to waiting and blowing (hardly hygienic), the proposal is for food sellers to have a portable food chiller.

Food would be thoroughly cooked as usual, but could, for an extra charge, be placed in a compact, circulatory, high-speed wind tunnel. This would be used to cool food to an acceptable, user-chosen temperature…and allow rapid, safe consumption.

#1635: OrCan

Since it seems that everyone who drinks in the street throws their container on the ground after use, today’s invention provides a way for beverage cans and other containers to sweep themselves up when they have been discarded.

The can would have a number of rectangles scored into the surface during manufacture (somewhat like the ring-pull device on the top).

These would each have slightly different dimensions. When a drinker has drained his can, he has the option to create a strandbeest-like toy by pulling out some of the ring-pulls on the side to form tangs (just like the pegs in a barrel-organ).

When the can is rolled along the ground, the tangs will be struck like mini tuning forks, making an interesting, almost musical noise.

Eventually the cans will tend to find themselves blown into piles by the wind more easily than the unperforated can design.

#1634: APPlause

I was lucky enough to be eating a buffet lunch off a small plate today whilst also holding a glass of wine. My wife was being awarded a big poetry prize, but when it came to the point where people wanted to applaud, it was somewhat more muted than expected, since everyone had only one hand free.

Today’s invention is therefore a way to clap single-handedly.

A smartphone application allows the user to record his own two-handed clapping. This can then be replayed, using one hand, later -so that a real, personal clapping noise is generated without dropping one’s quiche and couscous.

I’d also incorporate sliders to control volume and clapping frequency…from lanquid to tumultuous.

#1633: Consumeasure

We are given lots of information about the contents of our packaged food, via the labels it has to carry.

Many of these standardised labels are hard to really get your head around (especially if you don’t have much of a grasp of numbers). Today’s invention is simply to insist that manufacturers apply graduations to the outside of their packaging, indicating the fraction of the whole volume which each constituent takes up.

This needn’t greatly affect the existing branding, but it might make people think twice before consuming a ‘fruit drink’ with a 5cm deep layer of ‘carbohydrate of which sugars’.

#1632: GoneDrone

Now that people are creating insect-like drones, I’ve been thinking about how to make them invisible -to one observer, anyway.

One way is as illustrated. A very small, manoeuvrable drone (d) is equipped with a camera which informs it of exactly where the observer is looking (x).

Irrespective of whichever ‘x’ one is looking at, the drone forms one image on the blindspot of one eye (b) and, by flying very rapidly from position to position, it forms a stable image (s) on the back of the other eye (which then fades out).

This allows the drone, given suitably fast electronics and flight dynamics, to stay unseen.