#17: USB Passport

The UK Government have been faffing for ages about whether, and in what form, to impose ID cards on we citizens. (Of course, people forget that we used to have such things in the UK during the last war, when it was compulsory to carry a brown, dogeared card with a sepia photo which made everyone look like a Nazi spy).

According to some ‘latest poll’, 30% of us would be willing to pay £20 for an ID card -out of our own pockets (That’s surely a bargain, to avoid sitting next to some sweating crazy hugging a briefcase and fiddling with his shoe heels at 20,000 feet).

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Anyway, you can now buy a 1-Gigabyte USB flash drive, with fingerprint recognition, for about £18 (1 off).

My idea is therefore to equip all of we potential hijackers, money launderers and terrorists with one of these drives. To get onto a plane, you stab your device into a reader attached to any of the 20 year-old PC’s which litter airports. Your fingerprint would allow the PC to access information on the drive which could then be cross checked with data from the top secret MoD undesirables list. It might even allow some additional security questions (‘Mother’s maiden name?’ seems a bit old fashioned -and assumes she was later married, of course).

These cheapy devices currently make a mistake and incorrectly admit someone about 1 in 100,000 times I believe, whilst stopping someone incorrectly only about 1 in 10,000 times. Both of these rates, if correct, seem pretty good given the low cost involved.

That cost could be further reduced, considering that HM Govt. would be able to buy these at a huge discount for 60 million off (it would also be a hell of a lot cheaper than the current Heathrow shenannigans: www.misense.org )

The only problem then would be the much more difficult one of working out which way to put the USB connector in the slot (a future iotd perhaps).

#16: Reshredder

To transform a one-cut office paper shredder into its more expensive two-cut cousin, I suggest a reshredder insert that allows the output from a one-chop machine to be caught and fed, at right angles, into the same machine again.

This could be achieved by use of a plastic hopper costing only a few pence.

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#13: Catflap with integral grooming

For those of us bothered by moulting cats…

Get hold of one of those small vacuum cleaners, the ones that are pretty much useless for anything else. Wire the cleaner so that it switches on as the flap is opened.

Arrange a section of the hose in a loop around an existing catflap aperture. Make a longitudinal slot in the hose and blank off the end, so that, on entry (and exit), all of that surplus fur, skank, rotten leaves, mouse entrails etc are removed from your furry friend.

You still have to brush down the apparatus weekly and remove the bag of course (unless your cat is valuable enough to warrant a posh, overpriced Dyson). It may also deter foreign cats who aren’t prepared to brave the blowdry on the offchance of some extra rabbit’s liver biccies.

#12: Cheaper parking?

Disgusted at the prices which councils are allowed to charge for car parking, I thought it might be possible to drive a car transporter into town, in the early morning, park it covering several bays and buy one ticket for the whole day.

Then, I’d charge people a lower-than-council rate to park their vehicles (with greater security) on the back of the transporter.

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Aside from the costs of a transporter (huge) and the fact that councils would at once disallow parking outside single bays, I rather fancy this.

#6: Vertical access shopping trolley

A shopping trolley (or basket) which contains a fold-out step and allows small people to reach stuff they can’t get to on supermarket shelves (I’m constantly being asked by people to get them a packet of high-altitude cornflakes).

This would enable more stock to be accessible and make better use of expensive floor space. It might also allow extra pricing differentials/incentives: “Reach up for lower prices.”

If insurance companies stymie this, because they won’t allow shoppers to take on the dangerous task of climbing a step, then maybe some kind of vertical ‘magazine’ can be arranged, whereby products are fed in at the top and customers extract them at the bottom, automatically making available the next item. This would have the added advantage that products could be delivered to the shop in such feeder tubes…and the tubes themselves could announce to the stock control system when a tube was empty. In addition, the current danger of getting a glass jar of mayonnaise on the head would be eliminated.

#5: Stereo vision device for use on theme park rides

The central idea is that by enhancing stereo depth perception for users of these rides, their experience will be significantly intensified at very low additional cost.

Mobile phones now commonly incorporate cameraphones. Two such devices may be mounted on a spectacle frame with lenses positioned so as to roughly double the normal interocular distance. This has the effect of providing an intensified, 3-D view and a correspondingly heightened experience for thrillseeking ride customers.

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The spectacle frames might be made available in different or customisable colours, for example. Obviously a similar system might be designed using only prisms, but the use of mobile phones adds value to a purchase which has already been made and makes further use of universally loved and trusted technology. People will, we believe, regard this reuse as ‘cool.’

It may even be possible for a wearer to record their 3-D visual experience for playback (with sound) once the ride is over (assuming synchronisation can be achieved during replay).

Sunglasses manufacturers such as Oakley have already begun to develop all sorts of oddly-shaped, wrap-around glasses embodying electronics.