#2432: Callinkcard

Carrying a pen about with you is now perceived as almost as nerdy as wearing a wristwatch or taping the bridge of your spectacles.

Today’s invention is a phone case which allows people to make a brief printed note using only their cellphone.


The phone in its case is placed on a piece of paper.

One of four hemispherical ‘feet’ in the case is equipped with a graphite coating.

A program on the phone drives the onboard eccentric flywheel vibration so that the drawing foot is driven across the paper, creating marks as it goes.

Since writing paper has a pretty consistent coefficient of friction, simple, continuous-line versions of on-screen text or symbols can thus be reproduced.

#2431: BuffetBib

How do you clap or shake hands when you are holding a glass of wine and a plate of buffet fodder?

Today’s invention is a small paper tray in the form of a ‘bib’ which people can put around their neck at an event.


The front face folds down to form a tray at just less than 90 degrees to the vertical.

This tray has a slot for a wine glass, side panels and an embossed plate area into which food can be scooped.

This allows the user to concentrate more on meeting other guests than trying to juggle with the crockery.

These bibs can be custom printed for promotional purposes and folded up as a doggy bag to cut down on food wastage.

#2430: MarketPlaces

Today’s invention is a flashmob type game, with an advertising theme.

People would sign up to receive a list of street locations on their phones.


These would be sent to different people in a different, random order.

Checking in as 221b Baker Street, for example, would result in being sent another location.

As the locations are visited, streets are filled-in on a screen map.

The first person to text in the correct message, or brand name, wins a big prize.

This would potentially drive footfall to many locations in a city, as well as heightening awareness of some particular brand names.

#2429: SprocketRocket

I found this film, about a project to build a fast, fixed-gear bicycle, inspiring.

Today’s invention is to replace the chain drive with an extra gear (orange).


Although there is only a percent or two difference in efficiency between chain and gear drive, that might be very significant when a record is being attempted.

The gears, which would also be lighter than the chain, would need to be kept well-lubricated, of course.

#2428: Adooration

For me, it’s a sign that our economic system is failing when huge numbers of high street shops are empty.

Today’s invention is a form of guerrilla marketing which might be used in situations where landlords won’t allow low cost access for even pop-up stores.


Unlike flyposting, it causes no damage to anyone’s property.

A pair of coat hangers are straightened out and one end of each formed into a small loop. The wires are then curved as shown (pink).

To these ends, the top corners of an advert poster (dark blue) are attached.

The ends of the wire can then be inserted under an empty shop door’s draught brush or through the letter box.

As they are forced in, against the rear face of the glass door, the poster is dragged vertically upwards so that it fills the available space.

(Since this reminds me of ways to open a locked car door, when your keys are inside, it may be possible to adapt it to place ads in parked cars…paying owners for the use of their vehicle).

#2427: KiteKits

I read a story today about a plan to create planet lander craft in the form of kites.

Today’s invention takes this a step further.


Imagine dropping large numbers of flat-sheet kites over any planet with an atmosphere.

These would glide down -each landing very gently.

The kites would each have a small electric vehicle attached to one corner, allowing them to move across the ground and self-assemble at one location.

Each kite would act as a single layer in a 3D printed electromechanical machine -potentially of great size and complexity.

This would then drive off and perform some mission, without ever having been shaken up on impact with the ground.

#2426: Forkcrane

Today’s invention is front and rear forks for eg a motorcycle, which are height-adjustable.

For people trying to cross very rough terrain, including rivers, riding a bike can be dangerous and fatiguiging.


In the diagram, the upper sections of the forks (grey) are like the telescopic sections of a crane (octagonal in section). These can be extended hydraulically to a suitable height by the rider and locked in position…perhaps whilst actually in motion.

Only the lower, yellow section is sprung -to allow for a normal range of suspension.

#2425: BombTomb

If a dirty nuclear bomb is planted in a city, even if it can be found, it could be very hard to defuse.

Today’s invention is a way to move any such device to safety with maximum speed.


The bomb would be placed (perhaps by a mobile robot) in a spring-mounted box atop a tunnelling machine with its axis vertical. This would also contain a small, remotely controlled explosive device.

The drill would be fired up, creating a path, perhaps through many floors within a building, towards the ground.

A cable attached to the box would allow the whole system not to crash downwards at any time.

Eventually, when ground level was reached, the drill would rapidly create a vertical shaft around the bomb in the box, channelling the spoils behind as backfill (and perhaps also pumping in concrete, if the situation allowed this).

With a deep enough shaft, the added, trigger explosive could be detonated, allowing any radiation from the nuclear blast to be absorbed by the surrounding earth.

The depth

#2424: FlammabLegs

The main problem with a manned trip to Mars is the manned return trip from Mars.

You need a lot of (heavy) fuel to get back off the planet surface. A tank with the usual liquid rocket fuel would be just too heavy to take all the way from earth.


One alternative is to carry a buggy and drive towards one of the poles…gather lots of ice (if it’s actually there) and then electrolyse that to make hydrogen and oxygen (before carting it back to the landing site in a balloon or two).

Today’s invention is an alternative, and perhaps less risky, approach.

A small lander would descend from an orbital vehicle (as in Apollo). The lander would have a base section (red) which has to be there anyway to absorb the landing.

This would be constructed of a strong case on legs filled with Ammonium Perchlorate Composite Propellant (APCP), a flexible, load-bearing solid material which is often used to make military rockets. This can be profiled during manufacture so that the burn occurs in a sequence of bursts.

When the time to depart came, the whole of this platform would be ignited from the underside, propelling the crew module into orbit as the undercarriage consumed itself.

#2423: GazeGlaze

Cars should ideally have wraparound windows that provide a complete 360-degrees of visibility for the driver.

Unfortunately, vehicles tend to need extra strength to protect the occupants -hence the glass windows will be interrupted by steel (or carbon fibre) pillars.


Even the narrowest structural members can occlude or disguise significant moving objects, such as farm animals, cyclists or motorbikes.

Today’s invention is roof pillars for cars which take a leaf out of the civil engineers’ handbook.

Pillars with circular apertures and external glazing could not only look good and retain strength but provide enough extra peripheral visual information to allow a driver to spot an approaching cyclist in time to brake and thus avoid a collision.