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.
I’ve been reading about how, in future, airliners will be filled with a flexible combination of interior modules. It set me thinking about how that approach might affect the super rich.
Today’s invention is a passenger module which slots into a limousine. This would be the size of a double bed plus seating area for two people. The same acreage as a first class plane cabin occupies.
The module would be armoured and have its own air supply and communications technologies.
Its main feature, however, is that it can be extracted from the limo, using a small forklift carried in the boot, and inserted into eg an aircraft or a train or a luxury liner.
This would allow the occupants to board their next mode of transport entirely without having to face the press or transport security (having already been screened before departure).
When the module was installed within say a ship, its doors could be opened into a suite or a private sitting room.
Today’s invention is an ultra low-altitude parachute mechanism, based on one of those circular, expanding reflectors that photographers use.
This could be used by base jumpers (or Mars missions), but more usefully by people trapped in a medium-rise, burning building.
One problem with low-opening chutes is that, if the shock of sudden inflation is too great, it can cause the jumper some injury. That problem can be mitigated using a form of slider.
If the opening is too slow, however, then all this becomes irrelevant.
To get a chute to open very wide and very fast requires that each chute will have a loop of springy glass fibre sewn into the edge.
When someone grabs their emergency chute off a rack, they run and plunge out a window. A static line releases the coiled loop (shown on the left) and the chute is suddenly forced to take up its natural, circular shape (on the right).
I’m finding it hard to believe that ski waxing is still stuck in the dark ages.
All that melting, dripping, ironing and scraping…
Instead, consider today’s invention…a system of reservoirs attached to the upper side of a ski, enabling realtime ski lubrication. These each have their own little heater which allows wax, or a more modern solid lubricant, to be dispensed and flow through pores in the ski onto the sliding surface.
This process could be computer controlled, according to ski speed and snow temperature, so that optimal sliding might be achieved (and maintained).
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).