#1963: SkyShuttle

Now that the space shuttles are being transported around the US piggybacking on 747s again, today’s invention offers a way to contribute towards the next phase of space exploration.

It takes the form of a novel payload container for the shuttle cargo bay.

This would be a pressurised cylinder with seating and facilities like an airliner. It would have windows that allowed occupants to look out through the ports in the shuttle’s sides. The container might even allow limited numbers of people to move from the airliner to the shuttle during flight.

Although it would go nowhere near space, passengers could legitimately claim they had flown aboard the space shuttle, get a certificate and be charged a large premium for the privilege.

#1962: BackBadge

People at business gatherings can find it difficult to approach each other time-efficiently.

Even if they are wearing namebadges, no-one wants to stare at those, face-to-face, before starting a conversation. The information tends to be sparse anyway, leaving you to guess about whether someone is going to be of interest or not.

Today’s invention is an aid to networking.

People would wear a tie with a QR code in the lined square at the rear face of its wider end (people who don’t wear a tie could use a necklace or a medallion).

Entering a meeting, they would flick this over their shoulder and place their mobile phone in their jacket pocket (with the camera facing outwards and the recognition software running).

Walking around behind people, you would get an alert if the camera detected anyone whose coded information matched some of the features you had specifed as of interest.

This would allow you to mingle around to the front and introduce yourself.

#1961: Brrrush

Today’s invention is a toy car which contains an old-fashioned carpet sweeper mechanism.

As the vehicle is rubbed across the floor, so the rotating brushes sweep the usual debris, which playing children create, inside.

Each car could be weighed at the end of a week as a measure of its ‘mileage’ and a prize awarded according to the cleaning it had accomplished.

#1960: Sweepolo

Today’s invention offers a way to make bicycle polo a bit easier to play, as well as safer.

Instead of swinging sticks around, each bike has an extra sprung wheel fitted to the front.

This is wide enough to accommodate the ball, so that as a player drives his wheel over the ball it is pushed upwards through a ring of brush bristles into the wheel interior.

There, it spins around clockwise, until an extra burst of speed allows it to be propelled outwards through the bristles again and onto the field of play.

You could hold the ball in the wheel for a while, but that would mean travelling very slowly.

#1959: AbLootion

Buying a safe for domestic use is massively expensive (given that it will probably have to be built into a specially-created wall cavity).

Today’s invention is therefore an alternative. It consists of a replacement front door for one’s washing machine.

This looks no different from the outside, but comes equipped with a new, more secure lock and hinge mechanism, compatible with the existing electromechanics. The valuables are inserted through a watertight port into a hemispherical pod on the inside of the door.

The pod allows use of the machine to continue without either obstructing the door during loading or the washing when it is rotating. Some clothing will pass between the transparent door and the pod, so that it’s hard to spot.

Not only is the washing machine an unlikely place to store goodies (red), it can be left running when you go out, further camouflaging their location.

As everyone knows moving a dry machine is hard work. Moving one full of water and attached to the plumbing is a non-starter.

#1958: ListenList

It’s scarily easy to find yourself driving too fast or losing concentration when a favourite song or an absorbing conversation starts up on the radio.

Today’s invention is a car radio which records an identifier of every programme item which is played and when -whether that be a talk show or a particular track on an album.

It does this in order to gather data about what, if anything, was playing at the reported time when an accident occurred.

The statistics generated from an entire population of drivers would show up any patterns in what specific sounds and types of sounds, at different times of the day and locations, were most likely to have been playing, just pre-RTA.

If you insist on listening to heavy metal at top volume at 3am, you might find a message appearing on your in-car entertainment system alerting you to the increased cost of your insurance for that trip.

#1957: Facentrefold

According to recent research, the left sides of faces are more emotionally expressive (and therefore, it seems, more attractive).

This suggests today’s invention -a software tool which automatically creates an online avatar image by joining the reflected left half of one’s photo to the original left half.

Given that the most beautiful people tend to be the most symmetrical, in theory, two left cheeks should be more attractive than the usual pair -but I’m not really convinced by the neanderthal experiment indicated on the left 😉

#1955: Textplanations

It’s common to find that one’s DVD has a commentary on the film made by the cast, Director etc.

Today’s invention is an upgrade of that process for complex movies and on behalf of those of us who sometimes struggle to understand nuances in the plot.

The movie would be shown on a touchscreen, so that a viewer could click on a particular character and have a thought bubble appear.

This would state, without plot spoilers, who the person was, what they were currently doing and why.

This would also allow the Directors of films to indulge in very complex storytelling, without having to dumb-down their vision because they suspected that it would be just too hard to follow.

#1954: StoreDoor

Today’s invention is inspired by a question in New Scientist (you will probably need a subscription to read this).

It seems that reams of paper don’t burn primarily because the paper is treated with “rutile titanium dioxide, one of the most fire-resistant substances known”.

So imagine fire doors which are made hollow, but with postal slots in their surfaces. This would allow spare paper to be stored, as blocks, conveniently until needed.

It would also allow paper waiting to be shredded to be kept in a secure place, inside firedoors, whilst actually doing something useful.