#1401: TumTime

Small changes in internal temperature can apparently be used to drive the body’s circadian rhythms.

This suggests today’s invention: a new remedy for jetlag.

This takes the form of a pill-shaped pellet inside which is sealed a mobile phone receiver and a small motor whose output shaft rubs against the inside of the pellet wall.

When you are to take a flight to a new timezone, you swallow the device and engage an automatic sequence of calls to it. These are timed to occur so that the frictional heating of the pellet interior warms one’s body just enough, during its transit through the gut, to mimic the diurnal temperature variation normally experienced at your destination.

#1397: SootNote

I’m sick of having to breathe the exhaust fumes from cars. Carbon dioxide is bad enough but particulates must surely be doing everyone immediate harm.

Today’s invention is an attempt to bring home to people the consequences of driving dirty vehicles.

It consists of a short, porous paper tube (made of eg coffee filter material) which can be placed over the end of a smoky exhaust pipe, without damaging the engine. The closed end of the tube can accommodate a cardboard disc. This disc can be pre-perforated by eg a knitting needle.

When this paper is eventually discovered by the driver of an offending vehicle, a message is highlighted on it by the preferential passage of soot through the piercings -just like the action of a can of spray paint used with a template.

This might say ‘Time for a service?’, ‘This is what you’re doing to my lungs’ or something more direct. I’d be particularly keen on attaching this to taxis which keep their engines running all day.

#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.’

#1389: SupperSpray

We are told that too much salt in the diet is unhealthy.

Today’s invention is to provide salt pre-dissolved in vinegar for use on the dining table. A water spray, of the kind used on plant leaves, would be filled with vinegar and a small amount of salt added in the factory so as to form a solution of known concentration.

This would allow foods, such as fish and chips, to have only limited quantities of salt applied to them (and in a more uniform way than sprinkling separately).

#1387: Skinfriction

if it’s true that wiping one’s hands after washing provides the most effective approach to hygiene, then a lot of those air dryers could be improved upon. One obvious upgrade would be simply to introduce a barrier between the hands so they can’t be rubbed against each other when being dried.

Today’s invention is however an integral washing/drying machine made up of an airblade-like hand dryer suspended above a sink. This would have a single aperture big enough to accommodate the forearms, not just the hands.

People wanting to clean their hands thoroughly would insert them through the dryer’s aperture on the way to the sink below. The skin of the hands would be rubbed by the intense downwards airstream, forcing bacteria to the surface so that they could be washed off more effectively when they reached the sink. People could be encouraged to scrub one hand against the other within the airflow by having the fan activated by this specific movement. Waterflow from the taps could be arranged to occur only after a period of this dry scrubbing.

The hands could then be dried as they are withdrawn, in the usual way.

#1360: MindFull

There is a big problem with people overeating -often it seems because they aren’t paying attention to their meals.

Today’s invention is a pair of spectacles to be worn by people interested in eating more healthily.

These have wrap-around opaque ‘lenses’ which allow the wearer to look down on his or her plate but not elsewhere.

These look like conventional (cool) sunglasses and allow the diner to take part in conversation but also encourage them to concentrate on the taste and texture of the food (so that they will be much more aware of when they have had enough).

#1354: LiftLess

Today’s invention is a way to improve the fitness of occupants of a skyscraper or tower block.

At, say, the seventh floor, the lift controls would only allow the lift to be called to travel to floors 9+ say and 4- to stop anyone using it to travel up or down only a small distance (buttons labelled 9,8,7,6,5 and 4 would simply be omitted or covered on that floor).

This would encourage people to make those small journeys via the stairs.

There would need to be a dedicated, keycard-access lift for disabled people in the building.

#1346: Plasterpix

Today’s invention is a small way to reduce a child’s distress, having sustained a plaster-worthy cut.

Each plaster would have an outer surface capable of retaining pen marks.

This would allow the injured party to do a little drawing of the incident which caused their wound, so that when asked “how did you do that?” they could simply brandish the evidence of the whole grisly event .

#1332: Slurpstop

Breast-fed children get to decide themselves when they have had enough but bottle-using parents tend to keep feeding their child until the bottle is empty. This is thought to contribute to obesity and maybe even to developing diabetes.

Today’s invention is therefore a bottle which disguises the amount of formula milk left during a feed (until actually empty). It does this by being opaque and slightly heavier than usual but also by incorporating a sealed compartment part-filled with water.

This makes it difficult for a parent to judge how much milk remains (without removing the top) so that the baby can have more say in when to stop drinking.

#1313: StockStick

Today’s invention is an emergency crutch for wounded soldiers, based on their existing rifle.

In the event of a legwound, a soldier could detach the barrel of his rifle from the breech mechanism and allow it to slide out of the stock until it could be secured in place, as shown, using a thumbwheel.

Removal of part of the shoulder stock would then form a crutch and allow the individual to move away from the conflict more rapidly to a place of comparative safety.