Archive for: August 2011

31st August 2011

#1703: DeparChairs

Filed under: Feasible inventions - 31 Aug 2011

I read today about a pretty simple approach to seating people quickly on a passenger aircraft. It’s claimed that this may be as much as 50% faster…which would be a great boon to passengers as well as a saving in standing fees to airlines.

The question remains how to get people to arrive at the aircraft in the optimal order? Today’s invention offers a simple approach.

On entry to the departure lounge, passengers are asked to sit in a particular numbered seat as indicated on a small sticker printed onto their ticket when they appear (the lounge seat being determined by any preferences expressed when they bought their ticket).

Boarding would be done in lounge seat order, so that the right window seats fill first, the left window seats next etc. The boarding computer would know the precise seat layout of each aircraft and adjust the lounge seat sticker number accordingly.

(If people don’t mind where they sit, or when they board, or want to sit outside the numbered seat area in the lounge, they would still be free to do so, of course).

#1702: WagerWaste

Filed under: Feasible inventions - 31 Aug 2011

Today’s invention offers another way to deal with my bugbears: litter.

Since everything these days has to be gamified, why not that too? We used to get money back on bottles, but the (uniform) value was too small to be sustainable.

Today’s invention is a rubbish-bin-cum-vending machine which contains a barcode reader and some cash.

When someone puts an item of litter into a slot in the machine, its barcode is automatically read (pretty much every discarded product package has a barcode on it somewhere).

If the barcode has been chosen to be ‘lucky’ on a given day, the depositor will receive a cash payout, ranging say from 20p to £100. This will encourage people to seek out a machine before dropping their litter and even to collect what others have dropped.

30th August 2011

#1701: SerialSpoon

Filed under: Feasible inventions - 30 Aug 2011

I was eating a yoghurt today using a Ryvita crispbread (as you do) for want of a convenient spoon.

As I dipped and crunched, dipped and crunched, it occurred to me that most edible spoons require you to eat off them and then put the same spoon back in the food (yuck)

Today’s invention seems to avoid all of the entries in this category on Google patents (they have just fixed the site to allow image browsing after lots of us nagged them).

It is an edible wafer/bread/biscuit spoon that comes with multiple ‘bowls’, each of which is bitten off and eaten after dipping.

(This one is dedicated to Jess Williamson -an indefatigable supporter of UK startups)

28th August 2011

#1700: SightSeeing

Filed under: Possible inventions - 28 Aug 2011

You’ve probably seen those movies in which some elite, special forces SWAT team attempts to aim their weapons at unshaven, bad-guy hostage takers by the use of a laser pointer which illuminates the target in the form of a red dot.

Today’s invention is intended to make that process more effective, without increasing bloodshed.

Each normal laser pointer would be modified to generate a cluster of such laser points on the targeted person’s chest. These would be made to move a little, independent of each other, using an array of small mirrors in the pointer housing.

The target would thus be persuaded to believe that many armed security personnel had drawn a bead on him. This would be useless, however, if the target couldn’t see the dots appear on his standard issue dirty vest.

The system would therefore have a mirror mounted around the pointer and which could be flicked from its stowed position, in the plane of the weapon, through 90 degrees to face the person in the sights.

This would allow them to see the array of target points on themselves and lose the will to resist.

27th August 2011

#1699: Full-Lock

Filed under: Feasible inventions - 27 Aug 2011

I read this and was inspired to suggest today’s invention: a low-weight bike lock.

To secure the bike, the handlebars (grey) would be twisted through 90 degrees so that a bolt (yellow) in the seat could be slid into it and held in place with a normal padlock.

This would encircle a tree or a lampost (brown) and thus resist the removal of the machine.

(Both the handlebars and the seat post would need to incorporate captive flanges as shown, in order to avoid their being removed and the whole system circumvented).

#1698: FlyCast

Filed under: Whimsical inventions - 27 Aug 2011

I like the idea of minimising weight by reusing one functional element as another. With this in mind, consider the enormous cost of sending each kg of matter into space.

Any equipment which has been used aboard eg a manned spacecraft, but which is not needed for the flight back, may well be dumped in space to burn up on re-entry. Today’s invention is an alternative approach.

A kiln made of ceramic tiles is engineered on the underside of a re-entry vehicle. Before descent, this is filled from inside the craft with any metal which would otherwise be jettisoned.

This material is melted and forced into moulds within the craft.

This might allow the vehicle to take off with no undercarriage and build one for itself before landing.

#1697: Gullspring

Filed under: Possible inventions - 27 Aug 2011

Some very fancy high-speed vehicles have gullwing type doors.

In the event that one of these has an accident in which they overturn, today’s invention has the capacity to limit the damage to the occupants.

As such a vehicle begins to flip, the opposite door is explosively opened to provide a way to gradually absorb the energy of what would otherwise be a roof-on-tarmac impact.

The door could be engineered so that it acted like a very responsive spring system, limiting the rotational acceleration to less than that which would cause injuries.

A further system refinement might allow a robust door to flip the vehicle back onto its wheels.

26th August 2011

#1696: BarbBox

Filed under: Feasible inventions - 26 Aug 2011

There are very few safecrackers around, whatever Hollywood might suggest.

Most safes which have attracted the attentions of criminals are carried off and attacked with power tools, in private, over a period of time.

Today’s invention is a coating for safes which consists of irregular, steel protrusions, welded on the outer walls and roof of a safe. These resemble the broken bottles one sees on the top of walls…a major disincentive to even the keenest crook.

Only the keypad and handle would be free of the blades.

Such an approach makes any manhandling of the strongbox (which would be required to get it down stairs, out a window or into a van) almost impossible.

Even wrapping a mattress around or hammering planks onto the blades it would be hazardous, since they would be liable to pierce any such protection when being moved. Anyone foolish enough to attempt entry using explosives would create a cloud of shrapnel.

#1695: Panebarrier

Filed under: Feasible inventions - 26 Aug 2011

I happen to be the proud owner of a number of tilting roof windows.

One problem with their operation is that when opened, after even a short period of disuse, large amounts of grit, seeds and leaf fragments, which have collected around the edges of the window, fall inside the house.

This is particularly annoying in the case of the window above my bed.

Today’s invention is a weatherproof robotic vacuum cleaner which can be wirelessly instructed to vacuum the exterior perimeter seals of such windows, just before the catch is released.

24th August 2011

#1694: RocketRicochet

Filed under: Possible inventions - 24 Aug 2011

Space vehicles returning to Earth’s atmosphere can perform a skip re-entry (although it has never been undertaken with a manned craft).

In future, I imagine the trend towards UAVs will extend to space drones (USVs?).

Today’s invention is for any such vehicles whose contents can tolerate thermal cycling more than rapid deceleration.

A drone would be made in a cylindrical shape and fitted with peripheral rockets. On initial re-entry, these would fire, back-spinning the cylinder about its axis and causing it to skip off the atmosphere in a highly controlled way (just as Barnes Wallis’s bouncing bombs did in the Ruhr valley).

Using this technique, a very large number of bounces could be made, so that a comparatively gentle re-entry and highly accurate splashdown could be achieved.

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