#2709: Mattresstickies

I find it annoying when lying in bed with my knees up, that my feet always slip down the futon.

Today’s invention is some elastoplast-like attachments which allow feet not to slip down the bed.

These would have a rubberised outer coating to supply the required friction.

Perhaps the same pair of grippers could be reusable over several nights.

#2708: Coverstory

Today’s invention is a way for users of libraries and bookstores to make more effective use of the book stacks.

Each book would be equipped with a barcode on the spine.

Scanning the spine of the book with your phone would cause a stored text-to-speech recording of the book’s blurb to play (audible by using earbuds, so as not to disturb other browsers).

This would allow people to make a quicker assessment of publications, without having to extract books from shelves.

#2707: AstroLung

Astronauts aboard the International Space station can undertake spacewalks for eg vital maintenance of up to 8.5 hours in duration.

If a suit has a carbon dioxide scrubber failure, the duration of spacewalks is severely curtailed.

Today’s invention allows an astronaut a way to stay out longer, if they have emergency repairs to undertake, during an EVA.

A spare space suit is filled with oxygen to a pressure greater than the normal 1/3 of atmospheric.

This can be taken with the ISS crew member outside and connected to the suit of a working astronaut so that it acts as an additional air bladder -extending the time for which a spacewalk can last.

(If the cooling water circulation in the spare suit is still working, this too could be attached to the suit being worn).

#2706: ChuteCruiser

When a plane full of people has to put down on water, everyone may be expected to don their lifejackets, leap into the briny and swim to one of a number of liferafts, which may be nearby.

Today’s invention offers an alternative approach.

The crew deploys the emergency chutes -as for a land-based evacuation.

These are chutes with a difference however, in that they can be sealed at either end to form a barge with high, inflated walls. The chutes, once filled, would be detached quickly from the plane.

Four of these units could accommodate an entire planeload of people, without anyone needing to get wet/hypothermic.

#2705: Audioptimisation

Today’s invention is for musicians who are incredibly fussy about how their performance sounds to individual audience members.

The musician would sit on the seat to the left. Each of the audience seats is equipped with a very sensitive microphone, set at head height (red dots).

At rehearsals, a trial audience would be invited in (to ensure that the room acoustics match that of the actual performance).

As the musician turns his head towards each seat, a pair of wireless headphones allows him to hear a faithful reproduction of how his playing sounds at that location (where a small light will turn on).

This enables the player to alter his style of playing, the instrument used or its tuning, so that the performance is optimised. Such an approach could be adopted for every member of an orchestra (perhaps with each player’s instrument emphasised against the background music).

#2704: OnTheClockLockers

Today’s invention is part of my relentless quest to get people onto and off airliners more quickly.

In my experience, much of the delay is to do with people accessing overhead lockers whilst standing in the aisle(s).

So instead, why not have a locker placed above each seat (shown in red)? (These might have extra movie screens embedded in their back faces).

The lockers would not be accessible from the aisle. You could only put stuff in a locker when you are standing in front of (or preferably on) your own seat.

That would minimise queueing, if not eradicate it entirely.

People on the outside might not get the same volume of locker, but at least that would be known about in advance, when choosing a window seat.

#2703: NameGame

Today’s invention is an attempt to think up an amusing app.

People put their portrait photos online and then everyone else gets a chance to suggest what their name should be.

There’s endless scope for abusive entries, of course, but it would be easy to allow only names which can be found in a conventional name dictionary (so Satan or McHitler won’t make the cut).

People are interested in their personal branding and it might help some folk understand better how the world perceives them.

#2702: GateRace

Some people who travel by air don’t seem to realise that moving to their seat and sitting down should really happen as quickly as possible. There is often a great deal of faffing with the overhead lockers and queueing in the aisles.

Today’s invention aims to speed up the process of getting people to take their seats on a plane.

As passengers get their boarding card at the gate, they can type a number on it into their phone. This sends a text which records their start time.

When they have reached their seat on the plane, they can lean forward and see another number printed on the back of the seat in front of them. This is only legible if you are actually sitting down. Texting this number records their sitting down time. The system now knows who took a minute to sit and who ten minutes.

The faster sitters get a discount on future tickets.

Anyone who moves absurdly quickly (and perhaps will have bumped others out of the way) would not receive their price cut.

#2701: SampleScope

In the world of biomedicine, there are many translucent liquids stored in sample jars.

Today’s invention offers a way to perform some simple visual tests on these, without having to open the container.

The sample container has a lens moulded into the base and something like a visual testcard printed on the inside of the lid.

This allows a medic or nurse to view the testcard through the liquid.

The testcard could have colour patches for comparison with the colour of the liquid (eg for urine diagnosis). It could also carry a grid of lines which would be distorted or defocussed to a known degree by the presence of liquid with unusual density (or optical properties, eg cloudiness).

#2700: Scrubbot

Cars are built on a production line, using specialist robots, to very tight geometrical tolerances.

It seems odd to me that we still have car washes which are not unlike those built in the 1960s. These are known for mistreating the paintwork, aerials, and spoilers of cars.

Today’s invention is to use an industrial robot in a carwash. Entering your registration number would allow the machine to understand all of the geometry of your vehicle. Or perhaps you’d prefer to have the robot scan in the surface detail of your personalised car?

In either case, a robot arm equipped with cameras could assess the level and type of grime, panel by panel and apply the best combination of cleaning techniques and agents. This system would be more expensive than conventional kit, but would attract more customers by providing a factory-perfect finish.

This would happen within a couple of minutes, much faster, gentler and more precise than in an old fashioned carwash.

It might even be possible to apply this approach to valeting the interior and to washing the salt etc from the undersides of vehicles.