#1269: BitStop

Thinking about electric vehicles and mechanisms for swapping batteries, the idea took off in my head that existing methods of supplying fuels to vehicles are fairly primitive.

Instead of pumping petroleum-type fuel as a continuous stream, why not provide it in discrete units?

Today’s invention is a vending machine for standard-sized jerrycans of fuel. Users can find these located on the edge of town. They roll up, exchange a used can for a new one using their credit card inserted in a slot in the machine. (If their current can isn’t quite empty, they get a credit for the weighed remains, which are automatically pooled within in the machine to fill other cans. These amounts eventually amount to a whole ‘free’ unit of fuel).

The can is then stabbed into a connector on board their vehicle. The refuelling time could be under one minute. Once a week, say, a van arrives and replaces a whole machine with one full of new cans.

This has the added benefit that the fuel is kept sealed away from people. It’s also available in smaller, safer amounts, supported by many fewer staff, more locally and with less high-street queueing/disruption.

#1262: SignalSip

Energy drinks apparently start to help one’s muscles work as soon as they make contact with the tongue.

That weird finding, via which the receptors of the tongue somehow inform one’s flagging muscles that ‘help is coming’, is the basis of today’s invention.

For those who find their lives threatened by exhaustion (such as soldiers, explorers or firefighters) it takes the form of a steel water bottle with a lockable lid (and an inaccessible, recessed valve).

The lid contains a timer device which opens a spout for say one second every half-hour (as determined for the operation concerned). This allows someone to take very short slurps of the sugar water inside, enabling them to keep going whilst preventing them from simply draining the contents.

It might even be possible for a version of the bottle to open the spout in response to radio signals from base, in order to maximise the chance that the bottle carrier can get him/herself back home in one piece.

#1243: BaggageBand

I was recently intrigued by a movie of someone breaking into a locked, zippered suitcase with only a ballpoint pen.

There are numerous ways in which baggage could be made to resist such (casual) attack. Today’s invention is one such approach.

A case would be made of tough, flexible plastic (one or both sides could be made transparent, to lessen the need for a full search before eg boarding a plane).

The top half is pushed down on top of the bottom section until the chamfered lugs (I love that engineering talk) engage with the holes in the lower part, as shown.

Then, a steel belt (like a carpenter’s tape measure) is threaded through the lugs and secured by a padlock (not shown).

This is pretty inexpensive and makes it almost impossible for anyone to access the contents quickly and without using tools to inflict serious damage.

#1239: PopPout

I’m disturbed to read about various lipsticks and lip salves which provide, apparently, a nice comfy haven for germs and bugs.

Today’s invention is therefore a pop-up pencil device which contains a number of single-use lipstick or lip salve pellets which, once used, are forced into the bottom end to make the next one available.

Each pellet would have just enough for one (or two) applications, so that no-one need be wiping their mouth with an infected microbiological substrate.

If the outer sleeve were made transparent, each of the pellets could be of a different colour, so that one could choose to coordinate with the mode du jour.

#1232: Minedmilk

Today’s invention is the latest weapon in the communal-fridge wars.

To stop people stealing one’s (personal) milk, insert a plastic device which consists of a number of yellowish globules linked by a few strands of fishing line. The globules float near the surface and the lines are almost invisible.

This gives the impression, when viewed through the bottle wall or neck, of milk substantially past its use-by and thus deters all but the most desperate kleptolactics.

This device is sterilisable between uses and easily placed in a bottle but won’t pour into one’s cup every time the milk is used.

#1227: FastFace

Fast food is everywhere and so is its discarded packaging.

Those expanded polystyrene boxes are dirt cheap and thermally insulating and many people seem to have few reservations about just dropping them anywhere but in a bin.

Today’s invention is to supply fast food in these boxes but to have them formed into 3D masks. The faces could be of celebrities but even more interesting is the possibility of having a box vending machine in each fast food store capable of scanning a customer face and heat moulding a box in real-time (Perhaps this could be achieved by pressing one’s face into a plastic pillow to form a reusable mould against which a sheet of polystyrene could be vacuum formed).

This would give people pause for thought about pitching their own face on the ground: not least because it could identify them later.