#1380: Scalepaint

If you are into building scale model construction kits (and I used to be obsessed by the whole process), there is a problem with the paints you need to complete the job.

Essentially, a perfectly accurate duck egg blue or an olive drab coating, when applied to some model in 1/72nd scale, looks way too intense.

I’m not sure about the neurophysiology of why this is, but professional modellers know it’s true and dilute accordingly (otherwise that feldgrau Tiger tank looks black -even in 1/35th).

Today’s invention is model paints which are matched more correctly to the scale of model for which they are intended. Manufacturers could supply a separate range of paints for every scale, but more usefully a kit could be sold which would allow makers to dilute their own precisely (according to the measured perceptions of psychophysical test subjects as to which of a range of eg tanks looked the correct shade when set against images of the real thing).

#1343: PainterPointer

Today’s invention is a new paintbrush.

This contains a detachable handle (orange), which allows a range of different ‘profilers’ to be inserted (blue).

This forces the bristles (grey) to adopt a profile ideally suited to the painting task of the moment -ie from broad brush to very fine detail

It can be swapped quickly when eg up a ladder without having to carry multiple, paint-covered brushes.

#1336: SpeakerSpacing

It seems the guidelines for optimal placement of one’s speakers in a room are reasonably straightforward.

Today’s invention is a pair of speakers which are set on movable stands. The speakers can be driven vertically upwards and downwards and the stands are also mobile, being driven across the floor by onboard motors.

The system comes equipped with a remote control unit (containing a wifi transmitter). Sit down, holding this facing the speakers, in your listening chair and they will automatically dispose themselves adaptively to suitable positions and heights (relative to the corners of the room, the listener and each other).

The remote allows the selection of different test music and also fine tuning of speaker location/orientation.

#1311: Redina

It seems that colour perception gradually develops a greenish ‘overlay’ as long as one is awake (and gets reset after a night’s sleep).

If you work in an industry where judging colours is important, such as interior decorating or fashion design, this may actually have a significant effect.

Today’s invention is a plugin for Photoshop (or Gimp) which takes this into account and very gradually changes the screen colour balance towards the reddish end throughout a day’s work.

Following a wakeful night, a colour matching test could be arranged at the start of the day to recalibrate the screen so as to provide a personalised, consistent starting point.

#1302: SmokeSkin

Today’s invention is a set of light, transparent, hollow panels corresponding to the body panels of a particular car.

To the narrow space within each is attached an inlet pipe at the front edge and an outlet pipe from the rear edge. These are used to pump smoke through the narrow space from a central reservoir.

The smoke can be made to change colour rapidly (as happens with eg a distress flare or firework). This provides something close to programmable colouration for the vehicle.

Streaklines in the smoke flow can also create the illusion that the vehicle is travelling faster than it really is, thus adding drama to driving slowly and perhaps reducing accidents.

#1290: Tattool

Today’s invention is a software tool which performs two services to people interested in tattoos. This is inspired by the classic, if nonsensical, war movie “We Dive at Dawn” starring the ever plucky John Mills. A character is tricked into having an existing tattoo modified to include a longer, and inaccurate’ girl’s name.

Before getting a tattoo of a chosen design, the software displays on a screen the kinds of (larger) shapes to which eg a ship’s anchor, Egyptian ankh or the Dallas Cowboys’ logo can be most easily modified, should the wearer want, or need, an upgrade later.

Using the area, time required and location of any planned tattoo as guides, the software can also provide an estimate of the pain involved in such body modifications.

#1247: BinaryBinding

Today’s invention is stereo books, for secure reading.

A bookmark, shown in grey, can be cut to comfortably fit the brow of a user. This is placed between two pages (as shown).

Opposite pages each carry one of a stereo pair of images. The bookmark enables these images to be more easily ‘fused’ by the user so as to generate a 3-D image.

The book could be full of such images. It might also be used as a simple way to allow secure reading of confidential text eg on a plane or train, since each page could be composed of an illegible set of letter components.

#1241: iPath

Today’s invention is a toy which works with one’s iPad (remember when everyone thought that was a stupid name?)

The toy is a bristlebot variant which carries an optical switch pointed down at the screen.

As the bot buzzes about and lands on a dark region, it presses the screen causing regions to change their lightness/darkness. If the screen is locally light, the bot buzzes off somewhere else. Thus, the whole thing behaves according to nonlinear feedback (with some visual noise added).

Should be fun to set going in a browser window (with the screen adjusted to high contrast).

#1223: StoreStare

Mobile phones typically have 8+ megapixel cameras built in.

Rather than have to raise these to one’s face, I’d like to be able to just record what I see. Today’s invention therefore is to mount one such camera in the frame of some spectacles.

The rest of the electronics, including power supply, could be held on a pocket unit which would also accommodate a remote shutter release.

When you want a record of whatever you are looking at, simply stare at it and press the button.

#1217: Turner

Abstract paintings can be fun, but let’s not pretend it’s art (ie ‘something designed to communicate an emotional state’). No, it’s decor.

Today’s invention is a picture frame which contains an old-style acoustic burglar alarm, wired to a small motor. The frame can accommodate any abstract work of your choice.

A few random times a day, if the sensor detects that no-one is in the room, the motor rotates the picture quickly through a random multiple of 90degrees, giving the owner more visual variety and an added talking point.