#2340: FoamDome

I’m now officially obsessed by cycle helmets (in addition to helicopters, crowd dynamics, Aston Martins…)

Imagine if sunglasses contained a number of small spray cans of that fast-setting builders’ foam used for sealing gaps in walls etc.


The resulting solid is fairly flexible and surprisingly impact-resistant. One might even employ the kind of foam used in non-lethal weapons to restrain rioters (but without the adhesive).

The sunglasses could be arranged so that an accelerometer detects any untoward movement towards the ground.

This would open the valves on the spray canisters, allowing the foam to escape and set within a few tens of milliseconds (ie before impact with vehicles or the road).

The effect would be to have a helmet’s protection without having to wear one.

It might later be really difficult to get out of one’s hair, but better that than a trip to an operating theatre.

Similar canisters could also be inserted into small pockets at the elbows and knees of one’s clothing.

#2339: BulletBrake

Since it seems gun control is hard to legislate for in some countries, today’s invention is a way to allow people to own guns for home defence which have severely limited range.

A conventional semi-automatic has a number of extra ports created in its slide. Its barrel too would have perforations around its circumference, corresponding to these ports.


When the trigger is pulled, the gunpowder ignites and the slide moves backwards as normal. Much of the energy in the cartridge is however lost as the ignited gas vents through the barrel and ports.

This greatly reduces the muzzle velocity, allowing a homeowner still to apply lethal force but with greatly reduced danger to bystanders from stray, long range shots and ricochets.

The ports and vents could be positioned circumferentially and sized so as to react accurately against the up-kick and torque which firing such a weapon generates.

The effect would therefore be to improve accuracy significantly at close range.

#2338: Cameractor

A film director may spend days working with cameramen to plan a complex scene with lots of actors. This is necessary to capture dramatic interactions without also getting bits of equipment in-shot.

Today’s invention is instead to equip each actor with a small, covert camera, which runs throughout a scene. This would involve a tiny lens probably best be positioned above an actor’s ear and, if necessary, coloured green to enable it to be automatically painted out later.


This would allow the actors to move much more freely and generate point-of-view footage from several perspectives. The views could later be intercut into a final version (or perhaps multiple different versions).

Each actor’s camera could automatically process their view using aspects of their character (such as sepia, for an older person, enhanced shake for someone who was cold, defocussed for a person with a visual impairment etc.)

#2337: HexaHoe

Even tracked vehicles have difficulties getting through eg mountainous terrain.

I guess that’s one reason why the robotics industry is working so hard to create multi-legged robot vehicles.


Today’s invention is a hexapod transport platform with a twist.

Six small mechanical diggers are backed into a chassis (blue). This locks onto their wheels so that the diggers’ bucket arms are sprung with respect to the chassis.

The blue unit also contains some servomachinery which can manipulate the diggers’ controls -under direction from a driver in a forward-facing cockpit.

In this way, the diggers’ buckets can be made to step in sequence over very rough ground, allowing the chassis to carry troops, food supplies or other equipment.

#2336: Drinkerface

I’ve drunk some beer in my time and also worked for several big beer producers. I can’t say any of it has been a ‘symphonic experience,’ but I do know how very seriously brewers take their packaging design.

Today’s invention is intended to allow people to drink beer out of an ordinary can whilst being able to smell and taste the product just as they would when using a glass.


A glass drinking vessel has a tube poking out of its base. The tube has two squishy annuli (orange). One of these is poked through the top of a normal beer can.

Activation of the grey lever rotates a cam (grey), expanding the annuli and forming a seal between them and the can top.

This allows the user to raise the can to his or her lips and drink the beer from a proper glass.

#2335: BodyWarmer

Cameras with interchangeable lenses pose a problem -how to swap optics without allowing dust to enter both camera body and lens system….especially if you are shooting somewhere with airborne particles.

Today’s invention offers a solution, at least for high-end optical gear.


Starting to remove a lens would cause a small internal heater in the camera body to fire up briefly. This would pressurise the inside of the camera by a few Pascal over atmospheric pressure.

A gentle but steady puff of air would occur for a second or so through the lens attachment ring.

In this time, a new lens could be attached, thus minimising the amount of airborne grit etc which could get anywhere near the interior of the system.

The thermal effects on the optics would be not much more significant than those associated with photography on a hot day.

#2334: FanLander

Flying fixed-wing aircraft from ships is fraught with difficulties.

The pressure is on to create aircraft carriers which do not require a huge runway (since it makes them costly and vulnerable).


VTOL aircraft are hyper expensive (especially if you’ve decided to ditch, rather than upgrade, the superb Harrier), so how to equip one’s comparatively bog-standard fast jets with seagoing abilities?

Today’s invention is a new concept in aircraft carrier.

This is based on having a small ship, packed with planes and with several enormous Dyson-esque ring fans on deck.

These would be capable of creating such an airflow that an aircraft placed in front would rise vertically and fly through the hoop to take off.

To land, approach the hoop with a high airspeed but zero deckspeed and, by reducing the fan airflow, touch down gently.

#2333: CellCheck

Economists really believe they control business performance (just as lawyers really believe they control the moral behaviour of citizens).

Spreadsheets are a great programming tool for all such beancounters. It is much more difficult to overlook an error in spreadsheet calculations than when, for example, coding in C.


It’s certainly not impossible, however, as recent events have shown.

Today’s invention is a simple macro, like a spellchecker, which would examine all functions which use data in a bank of cells as input.

If the bank has non-zero values in any cells on its immediate periphery, it would issue an alert and automatically outline the cells in question.

#2332: Escapullogy

Apparently, some people are reluctant to fasten their seat belts in cars because they live in dread of being trapped in a vehicle when it catches fire or is submerged in water.

This results in surprising numbers of fatalities which might be avoided.


Today’s invention is a simple device which allows someone to cut their safety belt in the unlikely event that they are trapped inside.

It takes the form of a guide which is bonded across the width of the belt in the factory.

Between the sides of the guide a small, ultra-sharp blade can be drawn, using a ringpull arrangement as shown.

The ringpull would normally be held in place with a blob of wax so that any tampering with, or accidental movement of, the blade would be obvious.

#2331: Portiles

Imagine if you could make, say, the hull of a spacecraft or an architectural design or a rocket motor with ports or doors which could be easily repositioned in its surface.

Today’s invention is to adapt the children’s 15-tile puzzle to allow this.


A cylindrical skin would be made using curved tiles.

These would be free to slide axially or circumferentially, one at a time.

This would cause the open port(s) to change position.

When its new location had been arrived at, a window, an exhaust nozzle, an open frame or a hinged hatch could be inserted in a given aperture to ensure that the pattern was maintained until the next reconfiguration was needed.