#2514: CocktailCrisps

I’m a huge fan of potato crisps (or ‘chips,’ if you live in a country that serves something called ‘french fries’).

There is now a huge variety of flavours, although I’m not really convinced by the grandiose ‘Anglesey Sea Salt’ or ‘The Amazing Adventures of Salt & Vinegar.’ These are fried potatoes, people.

Anyway, today’s invention is to offer two-compartment crisp packs, each of which would be filled with totally different flavours and separated internally by a ziplock bag closure.

This allows more access to bolder, pre-tested taste experiments. I’ve discovered that eg ‘sour cream and chives’ goes rather well with ordinary ‘salt ‘n’ vinegar’ -especially if one of these has the ridged texture and the other is flat. You get much more emergent variety of taste and mouth-feel texture this way than if you just apply the combined flavour to one crisp.

Maybe packets could contain randomly-chosen combinations which you only discover by reading two internal labels?

People could post their favourite combinations online and the manufacturers could then use these to guide future product development.

(One of my offspring just drew my attention to this, which is related, but not quite the same).

#2511: SelfieSpiral

Selfie sticks are a bit of a nuisance, it’s undeniable.

They do, however, seem to be greatly in demand at beauty spots around the globe. Today’s invention is my version…longer, portable and with added dramatic effect (as demonstrated by one of my daughters).

#2508: MowAir

I dislike cutting grass. It needs to be done every week at least.

Today’s invention is an automated solution that lessens the associated boredom.

Imagine a system which consists of two small drones bolted together, but spaced a few cm apart.

The upper one of these machines carries the lower one around. The lower one then uses its blades to cut the grass as it follows the contours of the landscape (either pre-programmed or using real-time sensing).

One of the biggest pains in lawnmowing is carrying the grass to some waste bin.

In this invention, a large bin would be laid on its side at one edge of the garden.

The system would bank and blow the cut grass gradually into the bin, using its angled downdraught.

(Or you could program it to create eg a smiley face with grass cuttings left in piles).

#2507: Motoptics

Rules in motorsport are often made for commercial and/or safety reasons.

Today’s invention deals with rules that say ‘tyre blankets are not allowed.’

These tend to be used when there is limited opportunity to warm tyres safely by doing burnouts, or because they might give an unfair advantage to one team over another.

Winning race teams are always working to challenge rules like these, however.

So, imagine mudguards on a motorcycle which are made of transparent Fresnel lens material.

On a sunny day, just rolling a bike around the pit lane would provide a substantial warming effect on the rubber and allow perhaps one or two wins before the authorities banned them.

#2506: Croptimiser

We now have software which can tell us the exact pattern of light intensity on any patch of the Earth’s surface, at any time in the future (not counting rapid urban developments and local weather behaviour, of course).

Today’s invention uses this program to allow farmers to estimate the statistically best locations for various different crops on their land.

As crops become increasingly genetically engineered to be diverse, and thus ward off disease, so their responses to sunlight may vary more. This software can take all these behaviours into account, so that the land area is much more nearly optimised for crop yield.

Traditional field boundaries may need to be altered to reflect light intensity distribution. Brighter farms might well become significantly more valuable than darker ones.

The same approach could also appeal to gardeners and allotment holders.

#2502: Endnui

In the latest scientific news I read that, when we are blinking, time seems to pass more quickly.

In fact, time passes two to four times as fast when the eyes are closed than during darkness while the eyes are open.

Today’s invention offers a way to speed up boring processes, such as staring at a screen whilst waiting for some software to download.

People tend to develop epileptic symptoms if they are subject to bright flashes of light, so the approach here would be to wear special glasses. These would detect when the wearer was watching something boring (either eg by understanding that a download was in progress or that call waiting music was being listened to).

Then, a small cannister of compressed air in the body of the glasses would begin puffing air at each eyeball randomly.

The blinks induced would appear to greatly speed events up, so that the perceptual process in which ‘a watched kettle never boils’ would be overcome.

#2500: ShaftStaff

Imagine a walking stick with a gyroscopic disc at the bottom end. As the user walks along, the stick stays reliably upright and thus allows them to lean on it without falling over.

The problem here is that spinning gyroscopic discs tend to be much too heavy for a walking stick user to lift (I’m ignoring attempts to raise a gyro by turning it around the body, which don’t help much here).

Today’s invention fixes this situation by exchanging a disk for a long shaft (red). This would be located, using several bearings, within an outer walking stick shape (black). The shaft would need to spin at enormous speed to have the same angular momentum as a heavy disk, but we are already building experimental machines capable of a million rpm.

A user would be able to walk about using this stick and when the rotation speed reduced, due to friction, they could expose the shaft end (like a ballpoint pen) and place the end into a shrouded spinner (pale blue).

These spinners would be located on the floor within a home, work or public environment and could be mains powered. Each spin-up might take a minute or two, after which the shaft would be withdrawn and walking could again be supported.

#2499: Exhaustreet

Some stretches of roadway are well known for forming dangerous ice in cold weather.

This applies particularly to bridges and overpasses where the wind chill locally lowers the road surface temperature over the course of a few hours.

Today’s invention is a suggestion about how this may be alleviated.

Imagine if cars were fitted with exhaust pipes which could be blocked at the outlet, so that the hot exhaust gas could escape downwards instead. This would occur via a secondary pipe that could rotate from inside the car body so as to be close to the road surface, as shown.

This rotation could be triggered wirelessly by sensors in the section of road when the air temperature was beginning to fall. The movement of many vehicles would thus maintain the road temperature locally and avoid ice formation.

This has the added benefit that cars need not be as damaged by large amounts of grit and salt.

#2498: Adrenalink

I’m no fan of adrenaline. I like to feel in control and develop skills.

Nonetheless, today’s invention is for people who like to live on the edge.

Imagine a roller coaster which has, at its simplest, sections which are on rails and which can slide between locations. In the image, the pale blue section can slide between the fixed green and red sections of track.

This would provide ride customers (in the black carriage) with the belief that they were speeding towards a gap. Just as they get there, B moves quickly to join A -and the ride occupants are then speeding towards another gap.

The motion of the blue section, whilst carrying the carriage, could be made fast and erratic, so that riders would find it hard to predict whether they would smoothly join up with the red section.

These breaks in the track could be mirrored by sudden disconnections between sections of the cars themselves, so that some would unexpectedly be left on a retreating section of track, whilst other cars proceeded as normal.

Every time someone goes on this ride, their experience could thus be made very different.