#1390: JawJar

Today’s invention is a development of the standard, screw-threaded jar.

All sorts of these vessels exist, in a variety of materials. The idea is to engrave onto the helical surface of the container’s screw thread a groove like the surface of an old LP record.

This would be ‘played’ by a corresponding needle set or moulded into the threads of the lid, whenever the jar was being opened.

With the lid shaped to act as a loudspeaker, such a device might issue a brief warning about the misuse of medicine within or to those about to steal one’s milk from the communal fridge. It might simply say ‘Thanks from Pepsico.’

#1357: BlimpBags

Crisp packets are designed with a foil lining to ensure the product stays fresh.

Today’s invention is to add some novelty to a rather conservative market segment by making more use of the metallised bags.

Fill them with helium and sell them, like balloons, attached to a string.

Helium wouldn’t stay in the packets nearly as long as air is kept out, but, given the small weight of product per bag, imagine the advertising benefit to the company that tries this out first of having people walk back from the shops with their brand held aloft.

#1349: CaraPace

I always admire those people who manage to complete a marathon wearing a styrofoam rhino suit (or equivalent) for charity.

Today’s invention is inspired by this but with a practical edge. Training outside in winter is unpleasant for runners. Here therefore is a light, aerodynamic plastic shell designed to keep the weather off whilst still allowing free arm and leg movement (but without the drag forces associated with running movements).

It achieves this by being attached to the wearer via a cycle helmet (blue). The shell also contains several helium-filled mylar balloons (grey) to further lessen the weight.

There would also need to be vents to regulate internal temperature. The shell itself would be a good place to carry the emblem of your charity of choice of course.

#1348: PriceTag

Today’s invention is a way to make e-commerce more interesting.

Products on display on a website would be capable of repricing themselves in realtime.

Each product entry would monitor the prices of its competitors. If lots were being sold of A’s competitor B, then A’s price would automatically reduce itself.

If stocks of B were running low, then its unit price would rise. Put some B in your shopping basket and A’s price might drop a little to get you to change your mind. 3 A’s in your basket and you might see a price drop of A on the shelf to encourage you to buy another.

Within set limits, this would introduce some interesting price-based jostling and add interactivity to a rather jaded shopping experience.

#1344: Adtention

I was reading about this uninspired piece of robot research, when it occurred to me that there is an opportunity in the no-holds-barred business of advertising.

You have probably seen that old prank in which a person stares into the sky, at nothing, yet who then gathers a crowd staring in the same way. Well, today’s invention is based on a similar approach.

A webpage, or electronic billboard, has simulated pairs of eyes peppered around it between the content items. Advertisers can pay to have the pairs of eyes appear to move so as to look at their ad (drawing the attention of viewers).

Pay more and the eyes spend more time moving towards your advert.

(For a conventional hoarding, you might have robot mannikins in a nearby shop window shift their gaze towards them).

#1337: Wirewords

Today’s invention is a flexible, cheap way to make large-scale written notices.

Units such as those on the left of the diagram can be attached to a pegboard-type background in a variety of layouts (including that of the seven-segment arrangement shown on the right).

A wire, cable or tube is looped around these units, either through the hidden or visible side of each.

This allows words to be spelled out using a continuous section of high contrast rope etc. (much more convenient than searching in a box of preformed characters for that missing ‘X’).

#1287: Showheels

Trade shows and exhibitions are so last-but-one century.

People pay vast amounts to have ‘stands’ so that many more folk can pass by semi-somnolent and maybe pick up horrible free pens and product literature.

Today’s invention is to have an exhibition space filled with ‘stands’ which are free to move very slowly from place to place. These would each be mounted on an electrically-driven trolley and allow anyone to hop on and off (or wheelchairs to roll on roll off).

Just having stands appear next to each other in interesting juxtapositions would be exciting and thought provoking, but I’d also suggest having stands of differing sizes so that many people (eg startups) might have one that was like a powered shopping trolley.

How about stands which could be directed by delegates’ mobile phone messages?

#1246: Fruitstand

I’ve ranted occasionally about the stickers that seem to get attached to many forms of fruit. Today’s invention turns this problem into an advantage.

A new form of fruit-identifying label would be a thicker-than-normal ring. This would be sticky on one side, as usual, but the added depth and hole in the middle would allow the part-eaten fruit to be set down on a flat surface. This would avoid the problem of having an apple or pear roll over and collect eg dust, crumbs etc.

The sticker would still carry the inevitable advertising, of course.

If you wanted to encourage the consumption of eg five items of fruit a day, these rings could each have a part-message printed on them so that assembling five of these into a cylinder would spell out some additional message or web address on the side.

#1216: FeatureFocus

The web is full of sites which provide a shopping function like this, in which a chosen region of a product image can be shown in close-up.

So, the bits people look at can be used as a way to discern what they want to buy. If they pay attention to the fur collar, the zip, the pricetag, that tells you something about their interests. Whether they buy or not, you get a wealth of information about their priorities.

Today’s invention is a tool which simply monitors the close-up window’s placement sequence and spots patterns which enable enhanced product development decisions. If a number of people leave the page without buying, having just seen the details of the leather grain, you know something needs fixing.

The tool would also do some tricks like issuing messages such as ‘was it the [leather]? Maybe look at these items instead…’ It might even be possible to offer realtime, personalised discounts: ‘Maybe it’s not exactly what you were looking for -so how about 5% off?’