#1342: Incenseinserts

I’ve heard numerous e-book readers complain that their new fangled electronic devices suffer from the absence of the traditional smell of a well-thumbed paperback’s pages from a fusty library.

I’m unclear why the smell is so important. Can people differentiate between Moby Dick and Dracula by their olfactory properties ? (I guess not).

Today’s invention is a plastic sleeve which fits in the case behind one’s e-reader. This accommodates a page from an old book which you no longer need but which smells of a suitably literary study.

On opening the case, the (hidden) page is exposed to the air and one’s reading experience is thereby enhanced (especially as the e-book device warms up).

#1326: Digityping

So, just type in ‘ colondoublebackslashwww.domain.nnn ‘ after the prompt; obviously without including the quotes and stuff

This is the kind of instruction which tech support geeks give to newbie customers, and which usually results in great frustration at both ends of the phone line.

Today’s invention is a browser plug-in which shows an animated finger moving slowly across a keyboard illustrating exactly the correct sequence of keystrokes and without any possible alternative interpretations.

This would require that an image of a finger was stored hovering over each key and that a realtime image interpolation be constructed of the movement between eg A and B.

(It just occurred to me that a keyboard which could be remotely controlled in player piano mode, the keys being depressed in sequence by internal magnets, as if by some ghostly hand, might also help avoid misunderstandings when illustrating keyboard techniques).

#1251: HandHoldall

I have noticed that schoolchildren are carrying ever increasing amounts of stuff with them (especially books, despite the one-laptop-per-child initiative). This can’t be good for a developing skeleton.

Today’s invention is therefore a schoolbag which has a handle hinged at one end. The handle requires that its sides be pressed together before the bag is lifted, in order to judge the strength of the user.

When next the bag is set down (detected by sensors within the base), the handle determines whether the bag has been carried for long enough to endanger the user’s joints. If so, the handle de-hinges for a preset period to give the user some time to recover.

The handle can also detect which hand is being used to lift the bag (by the relative pressure on each side) and thus can also encourage a change from left to right (by leaving the hinge open until the hand is changed).

Two such bags could even communicate wirelessly -to ensure eg that nearly equal loads had been placed in each.

#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).

#1218: CautionMan

Parents these days are often unhappy about equipping their progeny with ‘war toys.’

I used to love playing with Action Man (or GI Joe as the original patent specified). Today’s invention is a new version of this old favourite with a slightly more moral approach.

This takes the form of a figure fitted with a wii-like accelerometer and a microphone. If the figure is subject to too much noise for too long, some of his joints are automatically loosened (using a battery-powered, geared internal motor which withdraws the screws holding limbs in place).

After a ‘recovery period’, the joint friction is restored by reversal of the motor.

Excessive noise and impacts would result in limbs becoming fully and irrevocably detached, thus illustrating that even legendary warriors are not invulnerable.

A range of scale equipment, specifically aimed at rehabilitating such wounded servicemen, would also be on sale.