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14th August 2013

#2446: HuBurst

Filed under: Possible inventions - 14 Aug 2013

In the higher reaches of motor racing, pitstops can be crucial. Shaving a few hundredths of a second off your time spent at zero velocity is surprisingly important.

Today’s invention is a small contribution towards that goal.

blowoff

As the car is jacked up, an air driver is used to remove the wheel nut (yellow).

As the nut is removed, it rips open the tyre’s air valve, causing it to deflate via a tube directed towards the chassis (red).

This provides some extra momentum to the wheel being removed, so that it flies more readily off the axle.

10th August 2013

#2442: SeatShares

Filed under: Whimsical inventions - 10 Aug 2013

I’ve been spending too much time lately, poring over the minutiae provided on seatguru.com. It almost seems as if they will soon be rating each actual seat: “Seat 29B has an unfortunate stain on the armrest and a non-functioning earphone jack”. I guess with mobile communications, that is currently possible.

Anyway, today’s invention is a new concept in commercial flight.

everystockphoto-nasa-space-237596-h

It’s normally assumed that when you buy a seat, you will stay located there for all of your journey.

Instead, imagine that you are travelling on a long-haul flight and want to pay extra for a wide seat and some comparatively decent grub…but for only part of your trip.

Halfway through a long flight, a light would turn on over your seat telling you to swap with the person in 22C, who has also bought a cattle+/business- ticket.

(People might have to pay more for a business class seat during the latter half of a flight than the first part).

This system could also work for swaps within a given class…offering hope if you start off sitting beside someone who is too large/sweaty/chatty…or whatever. Seat swaps would have to occur staggered over a few minutes to avoid a chaotic game of musical chairs.

Maybe there is even some scope for a passengerguru.com -which allows people to rate their neighbours.

7th August 2013

#2440: ChopperChopper

Filed under: Whimsical inventions - 07 Aug 2013

Today’s invention is a new form of armament for military helicopters.

A belt of bullets (with no gunpowder) is fed up a tube inside the drive shaft of the main rotor (red circles).

chopperchopper

This emerges from the end of a rotor blade.

At this point, a computer-controlled chopping device precisely times the separation of a bullet from its belt (white box), so that it flies off tangentially towards its target.

Each rotor blade can therefore act as a catapult arm, delivering enormous firepower (as long as the timing carefully avoids the tail rotor).

1st August 2013

#2433: Stepstereo

Filed under: Whimsical inventions - 01 Aug 2013

Today’s invention is shoes -with sound effects.

The shoes would have ultra-soft, crepe soles, but they would also contain a pair of speakers wired to an mp3 player.

Procsilas_Moscas

The wearer could choose a sound effect (using a wireless controller) and then, as each foot touches the ground, the chosen sound plays -as a footstep.

Aside from potential pythonesque humour (coconut shells) this could enable a user to appear more assertive by playing a loud, crunching step.

The footsteps’ volume could also be turned up by way of announcing someone’s arrival or warning pedestrians that the shoe wearer was running down a busy street behind them.

31st July 2013

#2431: BuffetBib

Filed under: Feasible inventions - 31 Jul 2013

How do you clap or shake hands when you are holding a glass of wine and a plate of buffet fodder?

Today’s invention is a small paper tray in the form of a ‘bib’ which people can put around their neck at an event.

bibbag

The front face folds down to form a tray at just less than 90 degrees to the vertical.

This tray has a slot for a wine glass, side panels and an embossed plate area into which food can be scooped.

This allows the user to concentrate more on meeting other guests than trying to juggle with the crockery.

These bibs can be custom printed for promotional purposes and folded up as a doggy bag to cut down on food wastage.

22nd July 2013

#2422: Carmour

Filed under: Possible inventions - 22 Jul 2013

Racing drivers wear helmets and fire resistant overalls, but it’s all a bit 1950s (Stirling Moss used to wear a cork polo helmet, with only limited success).

Today’s invention is a suit of armour for racing drivers made of carbon fibre and fitted with a cooling system, just as spacesuits are.

canon-senna-mansell-1710630-h bigtallguy

Every driver in eg F1 would have a custom-fitted suit, so that no team would have an advantage.

The main benefit would be that in a collision, legs and internal organs would be much less likely to be crushed.

The armour might come equipped with lugs to which a winch could be clipped to extract a driver from eg a burning vehicle much more rapidly. It could also have monitors embedded within it so that a driver’s in-race health could be more closely assessed via telemetry.

18th July 2013

#2420: PinPrints

Filed under: Possible inventions - 18 Jul 2013

I reckon I can touch a flat surface with about three different, reproducable levels of pressure (‘resting on’, ‘positive contact’ and ‘pressing hard’, say).

Touchscreens are usually not directly sensitive to pressure level, but almost all of them should be capable of differentiating between these three conditions (even if only by virtue of their different optical effects).

pinpress

Today’s invention is a way to identify yourself via a touchscreen.

Your new, ten-digit pin code consists of a pattern of different levels of pressure when in contact simultaneously with a screen. This gives a total number of ~59k different codes (ie >>10^4, as commonly used with keypads).

It might take a bit of practice, but once burned into motor memory, this would be super quick and impossible to shoulder-surf.

9th July 2013

#2411: SOSpur

Filed under: Feasible inventions - 09 Jul 2013

People in a plane crash tend to underreact, it seems, due partly to peer pressure.

Nobody wants to be the first to leap from their seat and start bundling people down the aisles.

planemergency

Today’s invention is a wrist band that would be provided to selected individuals dispersed throughout a plane.

The selection would be based on social media profile…so if you claim an interest in adrenaline-inducing sports or training in the military, you can expect to be issued one.

In an emergency, the cabin staff would send a signal to all of these wristbands in order to cause the fitter, better prepared individuals to take the lead and start escaping.

The signal might be in the form of a small electric shock -to ensure that people got the required impetus to move. There might be a variety of simple signals meaning eg ‘open the cabin door’ or ‘move people to the back.’

6th July 2013

#2407: Pillowheel

Filed under: Possible inventions - 06 Jul 2013

I’ve always admired this invention: the exhaust-inflated tyre change balloon -but you don’t see many of them in use at the side of the road.

Maybe it’s not that great an idea to run your engine with a restricted exhaust?

pillowheel

Anyway, today’s invention is an adaptation of the above idea but which doesn’t actually require the car owner to do any tyre changing.

The balloon device would be smaller than is normally required to remove wheels.

It would be inflated under the vehicle as usual but only raise it enough to lift the flat tyre off the ground -and then be sealed.

The balloon would have a set of small, ultra-tough castors on the underside. These would be able to turn under radio control, so that as you turn the steering wheel, the castors would help steer.

This system would allow a car to be driven home at low speed, so that anyone who was unable to change a wheel could still get back to base without waiting two hours for roadside assistance.

5th July 2013

#2406: SpeedSkirt

Filed under: Feasible inventions - 05 Jul 2013

I was wondering, when looking at the record breaking Mallard steam engine, if it could have beaten its own 126 MPH record with a more aerodynamic skin made of, say, alumninium.

Whilst pondering this it became evident that even our so-called high-speed trains have an enormous amount of high-drag undercarriage on show.

bogeybox

Today’s invention is an additional underskirt for railway carriages which would greatly smooth the airflow underneath the carriage and around its wheels by wrapping them in a lightweight tub.

This tub would ride on its own set of wheels (yellow), and have a gap at one end into which carriages could fit. This would allow rapid attachment and detachment for maintenance or to deploy them on the trains most in need of a speed increase.

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