#2691: ShowTimer

Slideshows are a technology which has really run out of steam, but which has not yet been superseded.

Today’s invention offers a small way to augment slideshows by improving their automatic timing using content sensitivity.

The basic idea is that each slide would have the number of ‘items of interest’ in it counted, by software, and then its duration on-screen would be calculated to be in proportion.

A team photo with 30 faces in it would be on-screen for longer than a single portrait.

This works particularly well for faces, now that selfie culture and its associated software are everywhere. The approach could be applied even to technical presentations, so that a lecturer could simply label slides of greatest importance with eg ****, so that these would stay on show for longer than those labelled *.

#2690: CompresSeats

Seats which nest together are common in schools, auditoria etc.

Today’s invention extends that to vehicles.

Imagine a plane or a bus or even a domestic people mover in which all the back seats can move forwards or backwards on rails (I’d like them motorised).

The seat parts would be horizontal and set at slightly lower heights towards the rear of the vehicle.

This would allow for much more flexible loading of people and/or luggage, without the need to remove seats. It would also enable seat spacing to be programmable, depending on the needs of a particular journey.

Shorter people could opt to sit at the rear, so that their feet could reach the ground more easily.

#2688: TurnToFace

If you are building a website for a team who try to avoid hierarchies, one way to represent this is via photographs of the people involved.

Rather than the usual five white guys in suits sitting in front of a bookcase, today’s invention allows team members to appear of equal status.

Everyone gets, say, a dozen headshots taken, each with their gaze (and maybe even their face angle) in a different direction.

When a website visitor clicks on the face of person X, the page refreshes to show an image of X looking straight ahead and all the other people in the matrix of faces looking directly at her.

In addition to this, clicking on a face at, say, the top right of the array might cause that face to migrate to the middle of the crowd, with all those eyes following her progress to the centre of attention.

#2685: RamPlatform

If you haven’t got space or cash to buy a car lift, then you could always dig a pit -or struggle with a few jack stands when trying to service your car.

Today’s invention offers an alternative approach.

I already own some incredibly strong plastic ramps, but they are much too small in length. It’s possible to lift only two wheels of a car at once.

Instead, imagine a set of nesting ramps of the shape indicated in the picture. These would be easily storable and you could buy as many or as few as necessary.

As shown, these enable a sturdy platform to be built so that a vehicle can be raised to an effective working height.
(The necessary end stops are omitted from the image. I’d imagine each as a recess which would allow the driver to sense when his car had reached a safe limit for reversing. These recesses wouldn’t interfere with nesting for storage or inversion when building the platform.)

#2684: JarJaw

If you want to use one of the many devices for removing a stuck jar lid, that’s fine.

What about holding the jar itself, though?

Today’s invention is a block with a v shape removed (red). This is set in a drawer as shown so that it holds the body of a jar and is then squeezed between it and the worktop edge.

Leaning on the front of the drawer allows your lid grip device of choice to be effectively employed.

#2683: SaferTaper

Consider the humble match. For generations, people have been burning their fingers as they took longer than expected to light their log fire or their birthday candles.

Today’s invention helps avoid these injuries.

The sleeve of the matchbox would have a thin coat of silver foil on one side (grey). There would be a cut-out indicating a safe place to grip the cardboard of the device (pale blue).

Inserting a match through the holes shown allows the match to be struck on a rough surface, and held whilst burning for longer, but with no subsequent danger to the fingers.

(‘Safety’ matches would be sold two boxes at a time, so that the special sandpaper on the second box could be used to spark ignition.)

#2681: JouleCycles

Sometimes I am very surprised not to be able to find one of ‘my’ ideas anywhere…already on sale or lurking in the dusty drawers of the patent office.

Today’s invention is one such small spark of inspiration.

Opel Adam berry red at IAA 2013

Everyone has seen the wheels of bicycles spinning as they are driven down the motorway on a bike carrier strapped to a car. There is a small industry focussed on providing straps etc to stop this overuse of wheel bearings and the possibility that bike mileage computers will give inaccurate readings.

Another small industry involves people making domestic wind turbines from bicycle wheels equipped with vanes between the spokes.

Today’s invention is to take advantage of wheel spinning in a car’s slipstream. It makes sense to use any spinning to generate some electricity.

A bike mounted on a rack has a friction dynamo pressed lightly against its wheel. The protruding wheels’ spokes could be fitted with clip-on vanes in order to promote their wind-driven rotation. As a wheel spins, it generates energy which can be used to illuminate extra rear lights during night driving, for example…or to charge smartphones/tablets.

#2679: MateMode

Couples, it seems, are endangering their relationships by staring at their separate phones all the time: even during date nights (that’s an old-time concept, of course).

Today’s invention is a rubber ‘chastity belt’ into which a couple can lock their phones when they are supposed to be having some quality time. The phones face each other so that the screens can’t be seen without one person unlocking their lock (probably not a sign of commitment).

This means no selfies or pictures of dinner.

After an agreed duration of the evening’s activities, each person can retrieve their device and catch up on their social networking. Just the pause in the perpetual instagramming may help them realise how futile that is, compared to chatting with their significant other.

#2678: SpannerVision

You shouldn’t really have your car serviced by people you don’t trust. There is always a first time, however, using a new garage, when you may be unsure about the quality and thoroughness of the work.

People who leave their children with child minders sometimes expect their child’s stay to be monitored by cameras…so why not extend this to those who love their vehicles?

Today’s invention is a set of say six small cameras located around a vehicle (one in the engine bay, each of the wheelwells and the boot or trunk as well as the car’s interior).

These would be highly visible so that anyone working on the car would be clear that their work could be scrutinised (perhaps wirelessly, in real time).

Certain dealerships will already use cameras to show a customer why they are being charged £80 an hour for labour. It seems only fair that car owners should be allowed to check what’s actually being done.

#2677: FuelFlow

You just can’t run a petrol station with a shop (and even a coffee shop) without providing people enough room to park (Shell UK, I’m looking at you).

What often happens, and drives me crazy, is that folk who don’t think clearly leave their vehicles by the pump and disappear into the shop for several cups of coffee and maybe a bit of cake oh and…Meanwhile, I’m parked behind -waiting for them to move out of the way.

Petrol stations already have automatic number plate recognition and ‘loyalty’ schemes.

Today’s invention is to fit a couple of ground cables to each pump, so that your duration there is recorded.

If you are arriving and leaving within a sensible timescale, the petrol company will credit your loyalty points account with a bonus. This will speed the flow of people through the station, without raising any issues to do with rushing.

(Personally, if people decide to eat their sandwiches, whilst sitting at the pumps, I’d be inclined to impound their car).