Today’s invention is my submission to an online contest for ‘designers’. I don’t stand a chance in this, because I’m not spending two days rendering the required images, off fees -but the idea, I think, is sound.
The brief was to design an umbrella for people in crowded spaces.
My approach has the following features.
A funnel-shaped parasol/canopy (in the shape of a water vortex). This is inflatable, using the bicycle pump in the handle. This avoids any sudden expansion of eye-poking spokes. It would be translucent, so that crowd members don’t get submerged in total darkness.
The profile of the funnel presents a low-drag shape to the oncoming wind, so that inversion can’t happen and buffeting about is reduced. This structure is further stabilised by being held up on the bicycle pump, as well as a flexible tube (red).
The tube allows the rainwater to avoid dripping all over your neighbours and instead dribbles out onto the ground (directed to miss everyone’s feet).
Wing mirrors have got so clever ie full of electronics that when they fail or are damaged, the cost can easily run to £200.
Today’s invention is a parking sensor built into a wing mirror housing. So what? you may say…
Instead of just making an annoying beeping sound, this detects a potential collision with the mirror itself (either when parked or in tight traffic).
The system would automatically cause the mirror housing to snap back, under the action of a low-tech spring, flush with the car body.
Today’s invention is a simple visor wiper for motorcycle helmets.
There are some unattractive designs inevitably based on conventional car windscreen wipers. Imagine, however, placing a small bristlebot, of the type in the image, on the inside of your visor. This would have embedded in it a piece of ferromagnetic material
The bot is held in place by a rubber-coated magnetic disc on the outside of the visor.
When the bristlebot motor is activated, it will buzz around the inside visor surface, whilst held to that surface by the external magnet. As the bot hits the side of the visor, it changes direction randomly.
The exterior disc thus is moved all over the visor, removing the film of rain from the surface.
Seat backs on airliners are now stuffed full of electronics. This is increasingly to take the minds of passengers off the fact that they are squashed into tiny seats.
When a seat is also being repeatedly kicked by someone sitting behind, or forced into contact with your kneecaps by someone in front, electronics can come to your rescue.
Rather than having an episode of air rage, if seat backs each had an iPad-like device on board (as they do) then the integral movement sensors could detect repeated impacts and wirelessly communicate this to cabin crew.
This would allow miscreants to be dealt with officially before complaints and acrimony set in. Just the foreknowledge that they might be blacklisted could force people to behave better.
I’m not keen on the idea of patents, let alone our broken system which is only really available to companies, not inventors.
Copyright is another form of intellectual property which works everywhere, lasts a very long time and is free. It is intended to stop somebody making and selling copies of eg somebody else’s poems. As such, copyright is no damn use to inventors…until now.
The image shows part of a poem which I have just written. Imagine a computer generating pages of this stuff using random combinations of characters like A, V, Z, N (although I would take the credit for the writing, of course).
Now imagine that these poems are actually 2-D meshes which, if implemented using steelwork, 3-D print or Meccano would have interesting mechanical properties. These could be automatically analysed using eg FE programs so that useful ‘poems’ could be selected. These might represent eg sections of aircraft fuselage in which some regions were highly rigid (eg XXXX) and others made deliberately elastic (eg NNNNN).
So now I have a way for my structural designs to be protected by copyright. No-one is free to make a copy of my invented frameworks because they are actually poems. There is no chance that anyone can get a patent for this idea, since I just published it.
I still have to pursue people through the courts to prove infringement, but that should be relatively straightforward once the test cases get established (20 years or so).
Poems would also need to be of limited length, so that infringers couldn’t grab huge areas of mesh and then claim ‘fair use’.
Today’s invention is a fire safety device, to be used in confined spaces where smoke inhalation can be very dangerous.
It takes the form of a ‘cooker hood’ (green) attached to a powerful fan (pink). The hood is attached to the (low) ceiling on a rail so that it can be positioned nearer a fire. This draws in a large percentage of any smoke being generated and passes it over a 3-way catalytic converter.
The proximity to the flames activates the catalyst’s chemicals and their effect is to strip out many of the most noxious pollutants.
The hood might also carry a conventional extinguisher. It could, in addition, allow the water produced by the catalysis process to fall onto the fire.
This provides people with more time to escape.
When designing an armoured vehicle, there are lots of compromises to be made. You want to be high enough to detect the enemy but low enough to evade targetting by them. You need to cover large distances fast but you don’t want to carry huge volumes of fuel into battle.
Today’s invention separates some of the functions of a tank into transport and combat.
The lower part, in black, acts as a mobile store of fuel and ammunition. It can cover huge distances with zero wear and tear on the fighting unit above.
The top unit’s wheels spin backwards whilst sitting on the main tracks of the lower machine.
When the enemy is sighted, the wheeled fighting unit descends to the ground via a ramp.
This upper unit is fast moving and designed for conflict on terrain chosen to be more suited to a wheeled vehicle. Its low profile makes it very hard to target. If damaged, or just in need of refitting, it can be winched back onto the mothership.
A more advanced version might involve several fighting units to one tracked vehicle.
Firing a shotgun can be difficult, even for those trained to do so.
The recoil from such a gun can cause bruising and it tends to make the users tense, which affects their aim adversely.
Today’s invention is a recoilless shotgun. The diagram shows a plan view of a double barrelled gun (with the butt to the right).
One of the barrels (red) has been flipped about the turquoise axis, so that it now points over the user’s right shoulder.
Pulling the trigger fires both barrels simultaneously -thus there is no kick.
The red barrel would use cartridges with gunpowder only in, so that no-one standing farther than a metre behind could ever be hurt.
Formula 1 drivers are accustomed to having their reaction times measured and honed. One machine for this purpose is the BATAK device.
Today’s invention is to equip road vehicle steering wheels with a scaled down version of this test. There would be touch pads positioned around the wheel which light up randomly.
Although the required movements and peripheral vision demands would be less stringent than in the racing version, such a test could perform many functions.
Failure to achieve a high enough score might be indicative of drunkenness and thus disable the ignition. One’s reaction times before driving might be used to reduce or increase the performance of the vehicle (or the insurance paid). Finally, such a test could help people improve their vision and responsiveness when driving.
Many people prefer to use a bar of soap, rather than a liquid alternative.
If you have to share facilities with people you don’t know, today’s invention offers a way to ensure that the bar gets cleaned before you apply any soap to your body.
The soap is placed in a perforated tray beneath the flowing water. This helps ensure that any germs and skin cells of the previous user are washed away.
You could choose to wash the soap in this way and then use it as normal, or just stand under the water flowing over the surface of the bar.