#1362: Panican

Have you ever had to break one of those alarm panels which are labeled “In the event of an emergency, break glass”?

Even those which are made of thin plexiglass and etched so as to crack especially easily make people think twice before activating them. In an emergency, that delay of even a few seconds, whilst one considers how to do the breaking and what damage your hand may sustain in the process, can be significant.

Today’s invention is therefore a reuse of the ring-pull can top, such as can be found on eg a tin full of chopped tomatoes. Instead of breaking any glass, the familiar ringpull would allow a metal disc to be easily removed, exposing an alarm button (or even using the broken seal itself as an electrical alarm switch).

People would be much more willing to pull the ring than smash a panel into fragments.

#1361: WarmWiper

There has been a fair amount of hype about touchscreen smudge attacks (ie potential attacks). I’m pretty sure this has been made up by a journalist but in any case the problem is easily fixed by routinely changing the spatial order of the symbols to be touched.

A more serious problem occurs with existing, fixed key pads in very high security applications.

If eg a bank employee is under surveillance, by criminals using a super-sensitive thermal camera, his or her entry sequence will leave traces on the pad, with the residual temperature pattern varying according to the order in which these have been pressed.

Today’s invention is to supply each such installed pad with an automatically-activated hot air gun which can instantly eliminate any such thermal distribution.

#1352: Newords

We can only pay attention to a limited range of events -our sensory systems screen out vast amounts of information from conscious experience all the time.

Some folk resort to recording their entire life using movie cameras etc, but frankly, life’s too long for that nonsense.

Today’s invention is therefore a way to keep up with the stuff which happens around you but of which you are unaware at the time.

It consists of a microphone which feeds a big capacity recorder -but between the two a rapid speech recognition algorithm runs. The trick is that only words and phrases which go unrecognised are recorded. In this way, anything unusual, novel, weirdly pronounced, inaudible or said in a foreign language/accent will end up as a significant, cumulative addition to your life record…and can be interrogated later to help you keep apace with developments in a fast moving environment.

Isn’t this how children work, after all, when they are soaking up everything that’s new and interesting -whilst ignoring the commonplace?

#1351: SeeCurity

People get cameras stolen all the time. Today’s invention is a security feature which attempts to make them useless to thieves.

Each digital camera would require that the first picture taken after switch-on was of the owner’s face. It’s relatively easy to make existing on-board face recognition work well when required to know one face reliably. (It might be possible to require snapping something else known only to the owner, such as a particular watch face or a page in a passport).

If the first picture is something else, then the camera would automatically shut down -making the theft of cameras pointless.

#1348: PriceTag

Today’s invention is a way to make e-commerce more interesting.

Products on display on a website would be capable of repricing themselves in realtime.

Each product entry would monitor the prices of its competitors. If lots were being sold of A’s competitor B, then A’s price would automatically reduce itself.

If stocks of B were running low, then its unit price would rise. Put some B in your shopping basket and A’s price might drop a little to get you to change your mind. 3 A’s in your basket and you might see a price drop of A on the shelf to encourage you to buy another.

Within set limits, this would introduce some interesting price-based jostling and add interactivity to a rather jaded shopping experience.

#1347: Clickselect

When I’m making changes to a document, I want to be able to select individual characters (for deletion or substitution).

Dragging across them with the cursor is nigh-on impossible (and in OpenOffice usually results in moving a large chunk of text to an entirely unexpected location).

Today’s invention is the ability to click in a word processed document thus:

  • One click provides cursor insertion, as usual
  • Two clicks select a character
  • Three select a word
  • Four select a line
  • Five select a paragraph.
  • This would be easy to remember and stays, just about, within the brain’s limits on instantaneous counting.

    #1345: EmbedCred

    Crowdsourcing product design is pretty much flavour of the month…or it will be as soon as manufacturers start taking it seriously. Similarly the urge to own personalised products is increasing.

    I watched my daughter selecting mobile phone designs at the weekend…not only must the touch and feel of the interface be crisp, the colour striking but not ridiculous, she wants the whole thing to be unlike anyone else’s device.

    Today’s invention is a website for the most ardent customers for tech products on which they can specify such wants/ innovations.

    If their idea gets adopted, a small CV file of theirs is embedded in the device, indicating what they contributed and thus providing them with a small claim to fame and access to many new potential business partners/clients who need to access such creativity.

    These buyers also get the added value of knowing a little more backstory in connection with their new design classic.

    #1344: Adtention

    I was reading about this uninspired piece of robot research, when it occurred to me that there is an opportunity in the no-holds-barred business of advertising.

    You have probably seen that old prank in which a person stares into the sky, at nothing, yet who then gathers a crowd staring in the same way. Well, today’s invention is based on a similar approach.

    A webpage, or electronic billboard, has simulated pairs of eyes peppered around it between the content items. Advertisers can pay to have the pairs of eyes appear to move so as to look at their ad (drawing the attention of viewers).

    Pay more and the eyes spend more time moving towards your advert.

    (For a conventional hoarding, you might have robot mannikins in a nearby shop window shift their gaze towards them).

    #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).

    #1337: Wirewords

    Today’s invention is a flexible, cheap way to make large-scale written notices.

    Units such as those on the left of the diagram can be attached to a pegboard-type background in a variety of layouts (including that of the seven-segment arrangement shown on the right).

    A wire, cable or tube is looped around these units, either through the hidden or visible side of each.

    This allows words to be spelled out using a continuous section of high contrast rope etc. (much more convenient than searching in a box of preformed characters for that missing ‘X’).