#1388: Gapparent

Lots of sports have the scoring of goals, via some arrangement of posts, as an objective.

Today’s invention is to arrange for the posts in say, soccer, to change size (slowly) according to the distance between goals and posts. The apparent size of the goalmouth, from the perspective of the player currently on the ball, will thus stay constant.

This means that players will try shooting from farther out because a ball kicked from 50 yds away will will be presented with a much greater scoring area than one kicked from 5 yards.

#1358: Hilliards

Just as golf isn’t a sport (in my opinion) neither is snooker.

Today’s invention is intended to inject games like pool, snooker and billiards with some extra interest -by providing the table with an element of variability which requires the players to detect this and play accordingly.

Each table would be equipped with a number of domed rods capable of being driven vertically upwards by no more than 1mm or so from beneath the baize. This height distribution would be determined at random before a game and controlled by an integrated computer.

Players would compete to play as normal a game as possible on this slightly undulating surface. Requiring a greater understanding of a more complicated, 3-D dynamics, this would lessen the tendency for one player to get on a roll and play uninterruptedly for very long periods.

#1350: ScoreSheet

In football, controversy rages when it isn’t clear that the ball has crossed the goal line ‘with its full circumference’.

Leaving aside that the ball is unlikely to be exactly spherical when kicked, today’s invention is a low-tech way to remove any such doubts (FIFA is notoriously conservative about the adoption of anything newfangled, even when its absence makes this low-scoring game look ridiculous).

Instead of nets behind goals (which flap and raise more doubts about where the ball actually went) a flat sheet of perspex is fitted exactly one ball diameter behind the line. The sheet is provided with a weatherproof perspex box and coated with eg Vaseline or other waterproof gel (so the action can still be seen from behind the goal).

All this fits into a frame on the goals and would probably be no more expensive than nets anyway.

When a score is in doubt, the referee need only inspect the Vaseline on the sheet for any marks. If there are any, a goal is awarded and a new sheet slotted in.

Two such perspex sheets could be used even in Sunday league games with one sheet being recoated whist the other was in-goal.

#1349: CaraPace

I always admire those people who manage to complete a marathon wearing a styrofoam rhino suit (or equivalent) for charity.

Today’s invention is inspired by this but with a practical edge. Training outside in winter is unpleasant for runners. Here therefore is a light, aerodynamic plastic shell designed to keep the weather off whilst still allowing free arm and leg movement (but without the drag forces associated with running movements).

It achieves this by being attached to the wearer via a cycle helmet (blue). The shell also contains several helium-filled mylar balloons (grey) to further lessen the weight.

There would also need to be vents to regulate internal temperature. The shell itself would be a good place to carry the emblem of your charity of choice of course.

#1324: Scrumtunnel

These days, young people aren’t allowed to do cross country running beside my local river “because they might fall in”. I’m even told that certain education authorities are considering banning many aspects of school rugby because they are too dangerous to be effectively insured.

I spent 9 years of my life playing rugby and I recognise that there are some real dangers here…especially when big and small players collide.

Today’s invention is a two-way scrummage tunnel which allows two junior packs to push each other but without the danger that either front row will crash into the ground and damage their necks or spines.

Made of tough foam, it would accommodate the heads of players comfortably and allow them to push with their shoulders whilst supported from below.

The tunnel would have many slots parallel to the push direction to enable players to see inside the tunnel and contend for the ball.

When a scrum was over, the tunnel could be rolled to one side of the pitch.

#1305: SlideSurprise

Today’s invention is a waterslide made with articulating sections and at the bottom end of which is an inflatable boat.

Water is directed into the top end and diverted to either side of the tube periodically. This deflects the slide and diverts the boat, accommodating the slide’s bottom end, around the pool. The boat, being rubber, presents no danger to people swimming in the larger pool.

Users jump in and experience some surprise when they eventually emerge safely into the water-filled inflatable boat which has since changed its location.

#1301: Penalty boxes

Penalties are always controversial as well as dramatic in soccer.

To add to the drama, today’s invention involves displaying a big-screen image of the target goal, with a numbered grid superimposed (say two rows of four boxes).

Spectators would have two minutes to text the number of the square they wanted the shot to be directed at (and perhaps even win bets or prizes if a score was deemed to have occurred via their chosen box).

The penalty taker and goalkeeper could each choose to respond to this advice or ignore it, but either way the crowd could claim increased influence over the game (especially as statistics were amassed about the preferences of individual players).

(A sneakier version might involve showing the crowd’s preference to only the goalkeeper or the penalty taker).

#1299: BounceBike

Today’s invention is a bicycle which requires the rider to undertake some quite athletic non-pedaling movements.

A spring links the rear wheel to the frame as shown.

First, the back wheel’s brake is locked electronically (red) and the rider leans backward, extending the spring (A).

Then, the front wheel is electronically locked and the rider lunges forwards, so that the spring pulls the rear wheel forward (B).

This repeated combination of body movement and electronic control of braking allows forward motion (like an inchworm) to occur.

#1297: ShirtSwap

Today’s invention is a new rule for professional soccer.

On committing a yellow-card offence, players would be forced to swap positions with a randomly chosen team-mate (or even one chosen by the opposition captain, the player fouled or the opposition crowd).

That might have the effects of reducing player specialisation and cutting the frequency of rule-breaking by prima donna players.

#1291: Shellmet

Today’s invention is a collapsible bicycle helmet.

It consists of an outer bag with hemispherical bulges moulded into it of different sizes.

Each bulge contains an aluminium boss bonded to a rubbery base. The bosses are of slightly different sizes so that they nest conveniently together when removed from the bag and fit into it for ease of carrying eg in a pocket.

The bosses’ rubber bases make contact with the wearer’s head and are held in place by a drawstring around the base of the bag.

In an accident, the bosses sustain damage and dissipate any impact loading across a wide area of the skull.