#2216: Wrenchain

Today’s invention is a special purpose spanner, designed to allow nuts to be undone inside complicated systems without having to dismantle them.

This takes the form of a chain of meshing gears, held together by a set of bars.


At the head of this would be a gear chosen to have a hexagonal interior to match the target nut. It would also carry a small, wireless camera, to help direct the ‘snake’ as more gears are added to the other end.

When the nut has been engaged, the bars would be locked in place and a motor drive applied to the distal end.

This would allow certain electromechanical systems to be diassembled only by the use of such a spanner…potentially increasing resistance to reverse engineering.

#2215: StepSearch

Very few products ever get any kind of stress analysis performed on their components.

Today my tumble drier packed up because of a stupid stress concentration in the door hinge.


Today’s invention offers a simple way to check for such sources of built-in obsolesence.

A manufacturer would apply a small programme to all of its CAD component geometries. Even without any knowledge of the loading regimes, this would detect parts which a) have a sharp change in cross section and b) are made of some brittle material.

These two factors would be enough to show up lots of parts which might make their products malfunction, in time for them to be redesigned (I’m looking at you, Hotpoint).

Local 3-D print shops could do this scanning too, in order to be ready in advance to make replacements for all sorts of machines.

#2214: Rotorgan

In a bygone innocent era, children used commonly to attach little flags to the spokes of their bike wheels so that they’d make a clicking noise by contact with the forks as the wheels rotated past them.

Today’s invention is an improvement on that system which could be hacked by anyone with an Arduino microcontroller and a redundant printer.


This involves attaching a printer arm to one’s front fork (and/or rear frame).

The arm (grey) carries a metal reed (yellow) which plucks the spokes as they pass.

Driving the print head backwards and forwards radially allows a given spoke to impact the reed at a chosen position along its length so that the spoke emits a frequency corresponding to that position.

As the bike moves along, the printer moves the reed to a different position for each oncoming spoke and can thus be used to play a variety of tunes.

Having two such systems fitted to one bike would allow for the simulation of a harp duet.

Thus a cycling club outing becomes a string ensemble performance.

#2213: GearingHearing

My father in law has hearing aids that are highly tunable to enhance various different sources of sound, such as conversation.

This made me think that racing drivers, who can afford pretty much anything they like, should take this technology seriously and stop stuffing their ears with bits of foam.


The major noise source aboard such a car is the engine exhaust of course, with the frequencies varying from say 2000 to 12000+ rpm.

The distribution of these bursts is pretty predictable, in that drivers drive for a while with smoothly varying frequency before a sharp step as a gear is changed.

Removing all engine noise would seriously impair vehicle control, so today’s invention is hearing aids for racing drivers which communicate wirelessly with the engine management system so that noise suppression can be applied to any high volume spikes over a wide range of frequencies.

The system would also allow broadband reduction of noise, for short periods, to enable conversations with the pit crew to occur.

#2212: LeanMachine

The future seems to hold both a worsening obesity epidemic and ubiquitous electric cars.

Today’s invention seeks to use an aspect of car design to help solve the problem of flab.


This is in the form of a car which, when parked for a set time (eg 30 min) after having made only a short journey from home (say 1km) refuses to restart for an hour or so.

This would encourage everyone who uses a vehicle for very short journeys to walk there instead (or to walk the short distance home).

It seems that the health benefits of only a very small decrease in car use are significant.

Over time, the 1km might automatically increase in order to reduce car use and improve exercise still further. At some distance, a bike rack might unlock, enabling even longer return journeys.

#2211: SkyPies

For people who are starving, food drops can be a life saver -since distributing food from the back of a truck often fails to get the nutrition to those who need it most.

Conventional airdrops run the risk, however, that a crate of food will hit someone and cause injury -or worse. They also allow large packages of food to fall into the hands of unscrupulous traders or armies.


Today’s invention is to create very high-calorie, vitamin-filled bread ‘bowls’.

These would be made with radial vents so that as they were dropped individually through the air, they’d spin and delay their descent.

The bowl shape would be stable in flight and allow them to be scattered widely across a village or a refugee camp.

On landing, these bowls would contact the ground only at one point, minimising the amount of contamination of their surface.

(I just heard the sad news that Gerry Anderson has died. This post is dedicated to his inventive genius)

#2210: Overider

For adrenaline-junkies, today’s invention is a mini theme park ride in the garden.

A swing would be embedded firmly in the ground. The chains or ropes would be replaced by solid shafts and the seat equipped with a serious funfair-padded harness.


The swing would be powered so that its occupant could be swung over the 12 o’clock position.

It would also be possible to program the rotation so that changes in direction and speed might occur at random…thus adding to the ‘thrill.’

#2209: PersonPod

Rear-engined cars tend to have no real rear passenger seats and a ridiculous gap under the bonnet.

Today’s invention is a modern redo of the old fashioned jump seat to help deal with the problem of limited seating.


This would take the form of a single-passenger module which would slot into such a car in place of the luggage space.

It would have a seat for an extra passenger who would sit behind a small extra windshield and experience an exhilarating ride -effectively on the outside of the car.

#2208: GreavesEaves

Today’s invention is a cure for the main problem with wellington boots (aside from the look).

When it rains, water floods down one’s legs and fills the boots.


Instead, imagine that one’s outdoor trousers have some extra length, doubled over and held in place by a number of circumferentially-placed poppers (orange).

When you put your boots on, undo these poppers and attach the outer ones to corresponding ones on the boots’ outside (blue).

#2207: Festivalve

Apparently lots of eye injuries occur when people remove corks from champagne.

Today’s invention aims to limit this threat to festivities.


Each cork would have a small number of vent holes drilled through it prior to insertion in a bottle.

As the cork is extracted, these holes would gradually release the internal pressure, greatly reducing that available to cause injury.