#2730: CareXit

Today’s invention is a system by which a car driver can control the degree to which any of the other doors may be opened.

This allows the driver to ensure that no-one (eg children or people with impaired vision) flings a door into the face of a cyclist or into the side of a nearby vehicle.

The driver would have a graphical control unit, perhaps on the steering wheel, which would allow him/her to check in the mirrors and set the maximum opening angle accordingly.

This could be set to say 20 degrees initially, so that a) no child could get out unsupervised and b) the driver could then gradually ease each door open just enough, in turn, to allow passengers to exit safely.

#2729: ExpoSure

I once worked for a consultancy company that offered to do some work for an F1 team, free, in return for placing our logo on the car. We were told that even the smallest space on the vehicle would cost more, for one race, than our entire company was worth.

This leads me to today’s invention: a new way to evaluate the cost of motor race sponsorship.

As can be seen in the image, not every logo is equally visible from every angle. Some views are never exploited by photographers at tracks for capturing images of race cars.

How about performing an automated analysis, post-race, of all the press and tv imagery which was generated? This would be relatively easy to do, since all the filming and photography has to be licensed. It would be a matter of applying brand recognition software (eg SceneReader ) to the entire bank of images generated from one race.

This could be used to have individual sponsors pay a fee based on how much publicity they actually got.

#2728: Crumbox

Toasters tend to be made in large numbers and quite cheaply. Often, their crumb trays don’t work very well and collect lumps of charcoal in the bottom which can be a fire hazard -or at least a source of burning smells and smoke.

Today’s invention is an external crumb tray (green) which fits inside a toaster stand (red).

The tray has an open top and a sloping floor so that crumbs exit the toaster and collect in the tray.

This not only keeps any crumbs away from the heating elements, but, being transparent, it makes it obvious when the tray is full.

It can then be detached and placed on a bird table. Each toaster would come with three trays, one with the birds, another for the dishwasher and one in the toaster.

#2727: BoneTones

Dogs have acutely tuned hearing as well as razor sharp appetites.

Normally, when dogs hear their bowls being rattled during dinner preparation, a Pavlovian chorus of barking and yapping ensues.

Today’s invention aims to limit that by training each dog to respond only to the appearance of his/her particular bowl.

This is achieved by making dog bowls with a tuning fork cut into the side wall.

Each bowl would have a name printed on the side, as well as a fork tone unique to that dog.

A dog owner can flick the tuning fork and alert only one dog that their dinner is en route.

This can be used as a training aid in the same way as personalised whistles are applied.

#2726: HolePunch

Windscreens are designed to crack but stay in place, even if shattered by some flying object.

When they are crazed, however, screens are very hard to see through -a driver is supposed to react quickly and punch a hole big enough to allow the car to be brought safely to rest.

This is difficult because of the need to keep holding the steering wheel.

Today’s invention is therefore a small, spring-loaded hammer, located on the dashboard in front of the driver.

A camera, looking through the screen, has its imagery analysed every few milliseconds to detect one thing: -evidence of the crazing pattern characteristic of windscreen damage.

If this is spotted, the hammer is fired against the inside of the screen, creating a hole large enough to see through.

(The hammer blow would be calibrated so that it could only break a crazed window, just in case of accidental activation).

#2725: Convectarget

When heat engines generate too much entropy, due to eg friction or uncontrolled heat transfer, they overheat.

This may not be a problem, unless the engine is powering a plane or a race car, where engine failure can have sudden and catastrophic consequences.

Fortunately, these days, we have relatively cheap access to thermographic cameras.

Today’s invention is a system which uses a number of cameras in say an engine bay. These detect any hotspots and then direct a cooling airflow (or oil/water…) at that location until the temperature can be shown to have evened out.

This airflow might come via a duct placed in a vehicle’s slipstream with vanes which could be computer controlled. If we had a space shuttle in operation, such a process could be applied to any overheating wing and fuselage surfaces.

#2724: BilledBoards

Google Street View is a huge endeavour. I’m surprised that no-one in Mountain View has yet come up with Today’s Invention: ads pasted into its imagery.

The intrepid search folk know all about which images are viewed most.

They could use this information to help price their virtual ads.

Say I want to have an advert for my patented corn plasters appear in virtual Times Square. That would cost me say $1000 a second.

I might choose instead to have the ad appear on the wall down the street from my house, at 1$ per day.

Online users might get served different inserted ads, depending on where their ip address was located.

In any case, people could pay for their version of Street view to carry no adverts, but if not, they could also click on virtual hoardings and buy stuff.

#2723: ShyDrive

When we find ourselves in the autonomous car-filled future, there will be many near misses.

Since these vehicles are likely to be battery powered, today’s invention is a way to make use of the massive torque available (beyond the potential for drag racing between the lights).

When a car senses that a collision is imminent, and steering out of trouble is not possible, then the vehicle can apply a sudden torque to the rear wheels and make the whole thing rear up out of the way -like a startled horse.

A flat back face allows the vehicle to park in that position until it can be safely rocked back onto its wheels.

#2722: AltSalt

It’s annoying enough that roads are sprayed with salt every winter. All the more irritating when the gritting vehicles throw handfuls of corrosive sharp stuff straight at oncoming vehicles.

Today’s invention is therefore a good application for autonomous vehicles.

A salt sprayer truck (blue) drives along and sprays only directly underneath itself. No more having my paint shot peened as I drive behind or towards the gritter.

Since it makes sense to salt both carriageways at the same time, the gritter truck would detect oncoming vehicles and only spray within the pink oval when no other cars were within it.

The sprayer truck would need to slow and speed up to ensure road coverage, whilst also avoiding oncoming cars, but since it would be robotic, this could be achieved with great precision and a high average speed.

#2721: HigherWorks

It takes a lot of gunpowder to lift a firework into the sky, before the show can even begin.

Today’s invention offers a better form of firework display.

Launching fireworks from a tethered hot air balloon avoids wasting all that propellant just on gaining height…so the spectacle can be better for a given amount of powder.

It might also be seen as safer, given that nobody is lighting explosives beside members of a crowd of spectators.