#1402: Hybridrill

Powertools seem to be either cordless (with unwieldy batteries) or plugged into the mains.

Today’s invention is a drill (or whatever) which makes use of the fact that most jobs don’t benefit much from being free from a powercord.

It consists of a power lead with a small cordless battery on the end. This plugs into the tool during normal usage (when the battery is also being charged).

When the need arises, the cord can be detached leaving the small (and therefore light) battery available to drive the device for the short time necessary.

#1391: BraziLoom

Today’s invention makes use of the Brazil Nut Effect in which a jar containing a range of different-sized nuts will, when agitated (in a gravitational field), end up with the biggest nuts on top

Instead of nuts, we use large beads with a specially streamlined shape, together with spherical small ones.

Each of the large beads contains a reel of thread or tape which unwinds as its bead is propelled upwards relative to the small ones. This results in a thread running vertically downwards beneath each of the large beads on the surface. Turn the container through an angle and repeat the agitation. A new set of parallel threads will form.

Manipulating the container in 3-D can drive the large nuts under and over existing threads, forming a warp and weft structure.

When this is sufficiently dense, the small beads can be allowed to flow out of the container -leaving a self-organised fabric behind.

#1385: CleanerShield

Today’s invention is a modification to those conventional (and pretty effective) vacuum cleaner bags that many of us still use.

I’ve noticed that sucking up fragments of rubble and sharp debris tends pretty quickly to make a hole in the side of the bag opposite the inlet (rendering the whole device temporarily useless).

The idea would therefore be to place a cheap, multilayer cardboard pad on the inside of the bag at the impact location. This would effectively resist damage whilst not limiting too greatly the flexibility or the air-permeable area of the bag itself.

#1381: ShoalShaper

It seems that shoals of fish are subject to a tension between the tendencies to swim closely to avoid predators and to spread out to get enough oxygen.

(There are examples of eg dolphins blowing bubbles in order somehow to direct a shoal, so maybe the injection of some extra oxygen allows the fish to bunch up more, making them easier to eat).

Today’s invention is an air line from a fishing boat. When a shoal is detected on the sonar, this line would descend into the shoal, aerate it and allow the fish to form a tighter than usual ball…resulting in a higher than normal percentage caught in the vessel’s net.

#1380: Scalepaint

If you are into building scale model construction kits (and I used to be obsessed by the whole process), there is a problem with the paints you need to complete the job.

Essentially, a perfectly accurate duck egg blue or an olive drab coating, when applied to some model in 1/72nd scale, looks way too intense.

I’m not sure about the neurophysiology of why this is, but professional modellers know it’s true and dilute accordingly (otherwise that feldgrau Tiger tank looks black -even in 1/35th).

Today’s invention is model paints which are matched more correctly to the scale of model for which they are intended. Manufacturers could supply a separate range of paints for every scale, but more usefully a kit could be sold which would allow makers to dilute their own precisely (according to the measured perceptions of psychophysical test subjects as to which of a range of eg tanks looked the correct shade when set against images of the real thing).

#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.

#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.

#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.

#1359: Pokair

Todays invention is a poker for wood-burning stoves, ovens and fireplaces.

Instead of just aerating the fuel by agitation and exposing fresh surface material, this device contains a replaceable cannister of compressed air in the handle.

When jostling the fire, a trigger on the poker can be pulled to inject a stream of air and thus stoke a reluctant fire more effectively.

#1343: PainterPointer

Today’s invention is a new paintbrush.

This contains a detachable handle (orange), which allows a range of different ‘profilers’ to be inserted (blue).

This forces the bristles (grey) to adopt a profile ideally suited to the painting task of the moment -ie from broad brush to very fine detail

It can be swapped quickly when eg up a ladder without having to carry multiple, paint-covered brushes.