#2118: CheckerCab

Conventional taxis in New York City are soon to be replaced by vehicles with sliding doors.

One concern is that passengers will fling such a door open and step into the path of eg another car or a bike.

Today’s invention is a sliding door which has a hinged, L-section hatch section overhead.

When the vehicle stops, the hatch opens but the door will not slide until both of the (blue) rooftop cameras have registered that the passenger has looked both ways.

#2117: FaceSafe

People buy guns primarily for home defence but they often end up being discharged accidentally and injuring the owner’s own family members.

There is also the danger that a burglar, confronted by a firearm, might get control of the weapon and shoot his way out.

Today’s invention is to fit domestic firearms with a small camera running face recognition software. This is now actually very reliable when asked to find the faces of only a small number of individuals.

It would therefore be trained to detect all one’s family members and used to control the safety catch on one’s home gun.

If this device was pointed at any of the designated people, then the safety would remain firmly on, avoiding some possible tragic consequences.

#2116: BladeBrake

I’m interested to read that even the best bicycle locks are all still vulnerable to attack by angle grinders or disc cutters.

Today’s invention aims to decrease that problem.

It takes the form of a steel spring which can be slipped over the U section of a bike lock, before it is closed around a bike.

The spring has a ‘beard’ consisting of numerous stainless steel wires and kevlar fibres. These are designed to obstruct access to the U section.

More importantly, they act as the fibres in chainsaw-proof clothing do, so that when a rotary cutter blade presses onto the lock, many fibres snag on the cutting edge and wrap themselves around its spindle (and also clog any safety guards). Fibre-loops would probably work best in terms of entangling with the disc.

This jamming makes cutting through the lock significantly more time-consuming.

When cycling, the ‘beard’ can be carried either in situ around the lock or pressed axially inside a tube (like the trunk of an artificial Christmas tree).

#2115: CopyCost

Everyone gets too much email, but nobody ever thinks they send too much.

I’d hate it if we had to pay to send mail, but it seems to me that some inhibition of the urge to cc everyone on the planet would be no bad thing.

I was wrangling with my Twitter feed this morning as usual. Retweeting anything automatically scrolls me up the page, losing my place. That nuisance makes me less of an RTer than I might otherwise be.

Today’s invention introduces a small ‘cost’ every time you copy someone into a message.

The cost is not monetary but in terms of entropy increase.

CCing would automatically cause your Inbox, or a section of it, to be reordered randomly (and the order-by-eg-sender function disabled for a fixed period).

#2114: Awningolf

I’ve admitted before to not really getting golf.

Today’s invention however is offered as a boon to those who are devotees of the ‘sport’.

Golf karts shield players from the worst of the weather but not when shots are actually being taken. Has anyone ever tried to use a club whilst holding an umbrella? (Caddies are now so out of fashion and anyway they refuse to run alongside one’s kart).

Today’s invention is a motorised canopy which would unfold as shown allowing players to play all shots (including putting without driving onto a green) whilst staying out of the rain.

#2113: Unflater

Airbags in road vehicles are part of increasingly smart systems. There are now many different bags in a car which deploy according to various super-secret algorithms -dependent on the decelerations experienced in different directions.

Today’s invention is a novel addition for the benefit of both occupants and rescue workers who may appear on the scene of an accident.

It is perfectly possible that the airbag control unit, if still functioning, might interpret impacts to the vehicle by eg a fireaxe or hydraulic cutters as a further crash.

The system should therefore incorporate an external switch to de-activate all undeployed bags.

This could be placed behind a thin layer of glass -perhaps within a high, brake-light unit. Breaking the glass could be done with only fingertip pressure from a rescuer (and yet be highly tamper-evident). It might also act as an engine stop switch.

#2112: Cementrack

Over time, railway tracks that once had their sleepers firmly fixed to the ground flex, compress the underlying gravel and develop gaps underneath.

This causes damage to the tracks and increased noise and vibration for the passengers.

Today’s invention is a simple system which could be fitted to a large number of trains.

As a rail vehicle passes over a high-amplitude gap between sleeper and ground, the exact location is recorded.

This allows a later carriage of the same train or even a different one to squirt a pool of liquid cement beneath the sleeper in question.

When this solidifies within the gravel and under the sleeper, the vertical movement is reduced to zero.

#2111: CasinOuija

No-one who goes to a casino should trust the House.

Today’s invention allows punters some extra measure of control over games of chance…but also limits their ability to cheat.

Everyone sitting at a roulette table would have access to one of the extended arms on the wheel (red).

This would allow control of the spinning to be shared by several individuals.

The croupier would only be responsible for placing the ball in a suspended cup which would be similarly shaken by the players pulling on strings (blue).

The ball would drop through a mechanical trapdoor actuated automatically after a fixed time period.

People would thus feel more involved in the gambling. It would also be very difficult for even a coordinated subset of players to attempt to influence the outcome of plays.

This crowd approach could also be adapted to any game in which dice are thrown.

#2110: StandSuit

Today’s invention is an alternative movement support system for people who might otherwise be in a wheelchair.

A carbon fibre vessel, shaped to closely fit the body contours of an individual, is mounted on a wheeled electric cart.

The vessel contains just enough water to cause the occupant to float.

This arrangement removes stress points from the person’s body, improving circulation whilst also allowing them to maintain eye contact with other people.

The small volume of water involved makes this system still highly mobile.

#2109: Animatime

Even the few people left in the world who can hand-make a watch tend to use some kind of a CAD system to design the works.

Today’s invention offers a new way to tell the time, based on this fact.

Consider watches with reasonably large processors and nice screens on board (such as those based on the iPod nano).

Each of these could run a cut down CAD model of a particular classic mechanical watch movement (see the drawing here).

This might not include the dynamics but would just show all the components articulating in the correct ways and driving simulated hands to indicate the time (with electronic, rather than mechanical precision).

The various parts in the model could also be made to display with varying translucency, so that the interactions within the watch would all be visible.