#1391: BraziLoom

Today’s invention makes use of the Brazil Nut Effect in which a jar containing a range of different-sized nuts will, when agitated (in a gravitational field), end up with the biggest nuts on top

Instead of nuts, we use large beads with a specially streamlined shape, together with spherical small ones.

Each of the large beads contains a reel of thread or tape which unwinds as its bead is propelled upwards relative to the small ones. This results in a thread running vertically downwards beneath each of the large beads on the surface. Turn the container through an angle and repeat the agitation. A new set of parallel threads will form.

Manipulating the container in 3-D can drive the large nuts under and over existing threads, forming a warp and weft structure.

When this is sufficiently dense, the small beads can be allowed to flow out of the container -leaving a self-organised fabric behind.

#1383: MatchMachine

Today’s invention is intended to provide assistance to those men who are hopeless at coordinating clothes.

Imagine a vending machine which is full of blank ties in some natural, uncoloured material. A man in need of smartening up stands in front of the machine and is imaged by a camera in the machine.

Software on board identifies the shades already being worn and selects a tie pattern and colouration which will be inoffensive.

This is applied to a blank tie, dried and then passed to the customer, following the traditional transference of credit card data.

#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.

#1338: SinkSiren

It seems that most people’s imagined view of drowning is mistaken…victims don’t thrash and yell, they simply go motionless and sink.

Todays invention is a way for anyone getting into serious difficulties in the water to draw attention to that fact and thus summon help.

Swimmers could purchase a light, quoit-shaped ring, to be worn around the neck. This would include an elastic section to make it easy to put on, without being obstructive to swimming. It would also be brightly coloured and slightly buoyant in fresh, and therefore salt, -water.

When the wearer found themselves about to drown, their face would descend through the ring floating on the surface. Biting the ring anywhere would activate a bright flashing light within the ring and a loud squawking noise, audible even over the roar of breakers.

#1321: Rainvelopes

Today’s invention is a transparent plastic umbrella with double-thickness panels. Each of these acts as an envelope into which can be slotted, from the perimeter with the eye-snagging pointy bits, a flexible, triangular insert; visible both from inside and outside.

These inserts can be pre-coloured, to allow the user to coordinate their outfit with their brolly, branded exclusively or contain hand-drawn images to provide an extra dimension of rainy-day personality.

#1274: AirPads

Given the enormous cost of buying soccer players and their hypersensitivity to injury, I’m surprised to find nothing like today’s invention in the patent databases (although there are 750,000 applications still waiting to be examined at USPTO, so it may already have been applied for).

Shin pads with automobile-like airbags which inflate explosively on impact.

It’s true that these would occasionally inflate when the ball was miskicked and they might cause opposing players’ legs to spring apart violently on impact, but since everyone would be wearing these, and the amplitude of inflation would be small, the protection would be shared.

Once one’s pads had fired, they would be quickly replaced from the sidelines with a new pair.

#1244: Spacears

In space, no-one can hear you scream…so today’s invention is 3-D hearing for spacewalkers.

The number of people who work in the near vacuum of space is set to increase. These people hear only radio transmissions, the sounds of their suits and their own physiology.

First, equip each spacewalker’s helmet with stereo headphones. All astronauts, and anything movable, would be fitted with a small transmitter sending out a chirp of radio every second or so. These transmissions would be unique to the source person or object.

A processor aboard the Astro’s helmet would receive these and translate them into characteristic, realistic noises in stereo (an approach from the seven o’clock position by a friend or a passing robot arm could be perceived in advance, thus boosting safety and general ‘situation awareness’.

Toolboxes drifting off would soon be detected by their simulated wooshing into the distance as well as an occasional plaintive cry of ‘help’.

The headphones would also drown out one’s stomach rumblings when it’s time for that dehydrated stew, again.

#1239: PopPout

I’m disturbed to read about various lipsticks and lip salves which provide, apparently, a nice comfy haven for germs and bugs.

Today’s invention is therefore a pop-up pencil device which contains a number of single-use lipstick or lip salve pellets which, once used, are forced into the bottom end to make the next one available.

Each pellet would have just enough for one (or two) applications, so that no-one need be wiping their mouth with an infected microbiological substrate.

If the outer sleeve were made transparent, each of the pellets could be of a different colour, so that one could choose to coordinate with the mode du jour.

#1236: WashScreen

Today’s invention is dedicated to Steven Hammer (by way of thanks for his many comments).

In response to his request for a way to screen trouser pockets for paper tissues, before placing them in the washing machine, it takes the form of inserts which are attached by cables to the trouser zip.

Before the trousers are removed, the zip must be pulled downwards -which in turn extracts the pocket liners.

These would be made of an open-weave mesh so that the trouser pocket contents would be exposed and the liners removed before the washing began.

#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?’