#2689: Motorubber

Today’s invention is a supplementary form of drive and braking for a motor vehicle.

It consists of one or more autonomous vehicles operating inside the tyres.

These vehicles would be inductively powered, via the wheel hubs, and would have sprung rollers, above and below, to ensure good contact with both the wheel surface and the tyre inner surface.

These motors would talk to each other, as well as the suspension, to coordinate cornering and road holding. The tyre stiffness could be augmented, for example, by stiffening the springs of the in-tyre vehicle during a journey.

#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.

#2687: MirroRetractor

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.

#2686: Visorobot

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.

#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.)

#2682: SeatSentinels

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.

#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.

#2680: StressedStanzas

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’.