#1394: SoilShield

Today’s invention is a way to provide even softskinned military vehicles with added protection from eg roadside bombs.

Each vehicle would carry several lightweight cages, one for each face. These would be attached to the vehicle via strong frames which would allow the cages to be angled downwards so they each act like the bucket of a bulldozer and are easily filled with earth/rocks by driving the vehicle for a short distance.

Once the vehicle has been driven fast or airlifted to a position of conflict, the cages would be filled rapidly, providing it effectively with several blastwalls behind which its crew could shelter.

On reaching a safer area, or when before making a quick getaway, the cages could be opened and their contents jettisoned in seconds.

#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.

#1371: SayScan

People who spend their working lives scrutinising images from baggage scanning machines, need all the help they can get (as well as a doubling of their pay rate).

It seems that if you are prompted by hearing words, you tend to be more effective at detecting related items.

Today’s invention is therefore an MP3 recording which randomly says words like “wires”,”blade”,”drugs” etc to a person engaged in this task, so that they will maintain vigilance and improve the chances of discovering illicit baggage contents.

#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.

#1369: Jettisonion

Military robots are a) very scary and b) absurdly complex.

Bomb disposal robots can however save lives but their cost and technical sophistication makes it increasingly unattractive to leave damaged machines in the hands of an enemy force.

Today’s invention is a bomb disposal robot containing a UAV that ejects itself and flies home if the armoured, but technically rudimentary, outer vehicle is disabled.

The UAV ‘brain’ contains all the costly, classified control technology etc and thus avoids this being destroyed or captured.

This approach limits the need to apply huge amounts of armour, since the sensor unit can continuously assess the likelihood of forthcoming terminal damage to the outer vehicle.

#1363: Helicescape

Escaping from a skyscraper, if it’s on fire for example, is always going to pose problems.

Since you often can’t use the lifts in an emergency, today’s invention provides a rapid route to the bottom for everyone -whether disabled or able-bodied.

A helter-skelter is built into the corner of each skyscraper as shown. This has access doors in the corner of every floor, so that occupants are in no doubt about their exit route. The helix itself would be made of fireproof material and have sliding mats attached to the interior surfaces.

People would be able to grab these and descend at a safe terminal sliding velocity to the bottom.

The slide would be made of one standard component, based on the (uniform) inter-window dimensions.

A fancier version might even be made to corkscrew upwards into position, from beneath ground level, breaking through windows when the building needed evacuated.

#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.

#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.