#1395: LegLift

Physical supplies still need to be transported about within office buildings -even if they are networked and increasingly paperless. This can still include paperclips, ink cartridges, cups of coffee, cables, batteries, memory sticks, postit notes…

A small fleet of conventional robot vacuum cleaner-type devices might be employed to fetch and carry -especially in a large, open-plan organisation.

Today’s invention is to equip each desk in an office complex with an ‘intelligent’ leg. This would contain a small elevator capable of interfacing with the floor-going robots and carrying its payload to the physical desktop via its interior shaft.

Supplies could be requested onscreen by a user (or autonomously by eg a printer) and collected by a bot from a central store or vending machine. This would eliminate the white collar crime of stealing office supplies (since the deliveries would all be recorded) and minimise time wasted chatting around the coffee machine or stationery cupboard.

#1393: Meshh

Today’s invention is a refinement for noisy, networked office machines.

A device on the network detects when a telephone (mobile or wired) is answered in the vicinity and pauses its activity so that the ensuing conversation won’t be disturbed by the noise of printing, shredding or blowing air.

Similarly, if there are active phones in the room, any ringtones emanating from additional incoming calls will be automatically told to mute themselves somewhat.

#1392: LogiClock

I’ve always had trouble dealing with analogue clocks. Having two hands on a central spindle, both measuring the same thing but at different rates, is just confusing.

Enter today’s invention. This is a clock consisting of two of those ubiquitous electronic clock units, with their minute hands bonded together. The right hand clock rotates in space about the fixed left hand one, once an hour. The left hand clock also carries an hour hand in the usual way.

When you want to know the time, it’s indicated as a sequence. Look at the fixed clock for the minute hand position and then to the moving clock for the hour.

#1378: Tersearch

My attention span started off short and is getting rapidly shorter. If a document is written in convoluted sentences (or in the case of a patent application, one half-page ‘sentence’), then I usually avoid reading it.

Today’s invention is a tool to order search results by average sentence length on a webpage.

This would help people to mostly avoid florid language in favour of writers who get to the point.

#1374: HalfLight

It may be mostly cosmetic, but today’s invention is a computer keyboard with keys that glow when pressed.

The colour of the light emitted might vary with the speed of key depression.

The keys would then dim exponentially, with a user-defined time constant, so that the computer owner gradually learns the visual-temporal pattern associated with typing a given word, say, and will thus be better equipped to spot spelling errors in realtime (especially in irritating passwords).

#1373: Gustgraph

I was in a major city today during a rainstorm and noticed that certain locations each had a pile of broken umbrellas on the pavement, dumped by their owners as the local wind had reduced them to tatters.

Today’s invention is a gustiness map overlay for Google Street View.

This would be based on crowdsourced information about where damaging winds usually occur (mostly on street corners) and result in a display in the form of a superimposed ‘heatmap’ on a mobile phone clipped to the shaft of their brolly.

Owners would be better prepared to re-orientate their umbrellas and thus reduce the waste which unexpected blasts cause.

#1372: ScreenKnocker

Knocking on a door in a unique temporal pattern may be used to tell the building occupants that someone they trust wants to come in.

This is hardly the security of our cyber-era -or is it?

Today’s invention is a related alternative to the conventional secure login methods for a touchscreen-enabled device.

A user touches the screen anywhere in a certain temporal sequence. The machine can detect this and decide whether to log him in or issue a refusal. Either way, the touching can be done silently and in such a way as to be very hard to shoulder surf.

#1370: ArmsDeal

Politicians who represent opposed, even warring factions are often very unwilling to be seen shaking hands with each other. They either shake or they don’t and whilst not shaking, relations stay cold; peace deals tend not to get done.

Today’s invention is a way to transform this decision from a binary to an analogue one.

It consists of a telescopic tube with a false hand located at either end.

A pair of politicians can approach this tube, select how long they want their side to be and then grasp the hand adjacent to them.

In this way, an arm’s-length handshake can take place together with an indication of the preferred distance of each participant (for the benefit of their constituents).

It may be that if one side is close to a normal shake and the other is visibly standoffish, that public pressure is increased on the unwilling party, boosting the chances of an early coming together. The next shake should involve some change in the chosen lengths.

In any case, a certain amount of humour injected into the situation might even help to break the ice.

#1367: DisplayDiver

Inspired by seeing a stacking storage device for those families who have multiple tablet computers, today’s invention is an alternative to the ‘multiple workspaces’ desktop metaphor.

It takes the form of multiple desktops in depth. This might best be effected by using a depth-varying transparency, to allow lots of information to be displayed more effectively.

Via this, you can literally drill down into a screen of information, using a cookie-cutter type cursor. Lower layers may contain information which provides increasing detail about surface topics.

On a touch-screen, these lower layers of information could be accessed using a ‘gouging’ gesture.

#1366: RollReel

Sick of staring at those old plain-painted plaster walls?

Today’s invention is a networked projector which allows the user to download wallpaper patterns (and user-chosen combinations of sub-patterns) from a large database.

These are then colour-tweaked, according to taste, and projected onto one’s walls to give a realistic impression of the flock effect William Morris paper of your dreams -in situ.

Press the button and a selected number of rolls of personalised paper are in the post to you.