#1932: FallFeline

People who have to work at heights above ground tend to spend a lot of their time roped to the exterior of buildings, ladders etc.

Today’s invention is an extra safety measure, based on how cats seem able to avoid killing themselves during falls.

It consists of a metal cylinder containing a rotating hub and a ratchet mechanism. To the hub are attached numerous radial steel bands -like several clock mainsprings.

The device allows these bands to be twisted tightly around the hub, using a detachable lever arm, into overlapping spirals.

When someone wearing one of these devices falls, the bands are suddenly released, forming a wide expanse of springy legs. The release order would be electronically controlled so that it would be self-orientating

These legs hit the ground milliseconds before the wearer and thus cushion the impact in a similar way to the legs of a cat.

Such a system might also provide parachutists, dropped from low altitude, an extra degree of safety.

#1931: ApPriciation

I was helping to run a Scottish Crucible event last week in which we talked about smartphone app. business models.

Pricing apps. is a difficult thing to get right in general. Today’s invention is context-sensitive pricing for downloadable products.

The idea is that certain programs are worth a lot more, depending on the location of the consumer.

If, eg you want to entertain your children with a game during a car journey, then you’d have to supply your location and destination coordinates (verified by GPS).

Planning ahead would allow the game to be downloaded at home at low cost. Deciding to buy at the journey midpoint would, say, double the price.

Buying it five miles from your destination would see the cost fall again, due to the lessened utility.

#1930: ManufactuRead

When large numbers of identical cars are sitting still in a factory assembly yard, they always make me think that the manufacturer may be having trouble selling them.

Today’s invention is a system that can wirelessly control the interior and main lights of each car so that an attractive animated ‘image’ can be formed by them.

At night, this array could even spell out some positive message (Like the coloured seats in a football stadium, but with the ability to be rapidly rearranged).

This could be relayed to various media outlets by a UAV with a camera flying overhead.

#1929: SafetySheets

It seems that scrunched-up paper is immensely strong (whilst also being very lightweight).

Today’s invention is a bicycle helmet based on this information.

On the left a two-part waste bin is used to hold scrunched paper only.

As the day progresses, the bin fills and before the ride home, the outer part is pressed into the paper so that a helmet is formed with a layer of impact-absorbing material.

#1928: RowLoader

Today’s invention is a new way to get people boarding an aircraft.

The essential difference is that the unit of boarding would be the seat row.

Rows of seats would be placed on a bus or buses (in reverse order to the onboard seating plan).

When the buses arrive at the plane, the disembarking rows all slide forward and are withdrawn automatically from a side exit, at exactly the same rate that rows are embarked from the rear (or vice versa).

This allows people to take as long as they like getting seated on the bus, so that the boarding process itself can be very rapid.

#1927: Insectisole

I find that when I travel on public transport I routinely find my lower legs being bitten by fleas -just above the sock-line.

This can’t just affect me, so today’s invention is foam pad which attaches to the instep of one shoe using an elastic strap around the shoe.

This would be completely unobtrusive normally but when one sits on a bus or train, the pad, which would contain tea tree oil, could be slid to the heel area, using the strap, and rubbed gently on the floor.

This would release a little oil and deter even the most determined of parasites.

#1926: Spiraline

Today’s invention is a washing line which detects the onset of rain and withdraws its washing into a waterproof housing.

The rightmost post would hold a spring loaded washing line reel and a relative humidity sensor.

When rain threatens the clothing, each of the (yellow and orange) items is withdrawn inside a tall shelter (dark blue).

The line wraps around a rotating, motor-driven, spiral rail which keeps the clothing from being crushed together.

if the weaher were bad enough, a small fan might be activated to dry the washing whist still hanging in the shelter.

#1925: FuzzyChess

Today’s invention is a new kind of chessboard, offering a new version of chess.

There would be no squares, so that pieces would move in a more generalised, analogue way. Each piece would be able to move in the same general pattern as in old-chess.

Knights for example could move to one of four zones each centred on the 10, 2, 4,or 8 o’clock positions. Attempted movements of any piece outside their permitted range would be signalled by the board itself as invalid.

Pieces would take each other if one landed within a certain radial distance of another.

This would heighten the tension between pieces trying to dominate territory and ‘fearing’ that they might themselves be taken.

It would interesting to program a simulation of this using eg Netlogo (programming pieces to advance on the opposite king, but avoiding hotspots on a continuous heatmap consisting of the areas under most threat by opponent pieces).

With some built-in memory, perhaps the pieces would develop an ability to act together in creating, say defensive strategies.

#1924: Browipers

Today’s invention is another set of windscreen wipers for spectacles.

Lower, jointed parts of the frame, coated with soft brush material, undertake a parallelogram motion across the lenses, as shown. This would be driven simply by an upwards flick of the head.

As well as keeping one’s glasses clean and dry, these could be flicked up into a locked position and thus used to help emphasise emotional responses by the naturally undemonstrative.

#1923: Magniflyer

A propeller blade, like a wing, need only have an aerofoil section to minimise drag. Both could be made from flat planks, set an an angle to the airstream, given a big enough driving force.

Today’s invention is to make an aircraft propeller of strips of transparent plastic. Each strip would be essentially a plank, set at an angle to to axis of rotation and petal-shaped. These blades would sweep out a volume exactly like that of a large, bi-convex lens.

Rotating at speed, persistence of vision would cause it to act as a solid lens in front of the pilot of a single-engined plane.

When atempting to spot missing people on the ground, or a distant landing strip, the pilot could look forward and see a magnified view of reality.