This page is very old and becoming rotten... I just don't have the heart to do the right thing and put it out to pasture...

Randomness ahead, you have been warned.

I have some more, they're just not here yet. Credit would be nice, although I'm a firm believer that making something work's the really hard bit. Also most of them probably are not new.

Feel free to e-mail with any comments.

8 September 2003

Tilt switches in digital cameras.

I had this one ages ago and never wrote it up. I'm unsure as to why digital cameras couldn't include a tilt switch inside and rotate the resutling pictures accordingly.

Office Shoe Lockers.

Many people, especially women, would like to travel to work in shoes vey different from those they wear in the office. Proper lockers with a nice bench to sit on whilst changing could be nice. I may be having flashbacks to my dormitory in Japan.

Commerial kitchens for those with special needs.

In the UK at least many people with learing disablilities / special needs are employed in kitchens. It would be good to think about special design schemes for these situations... hopefully I'll come up with an example.

4 May 2003

Facial expression version of the telephone game.

'The Telephone Game' is the US name for the game we called 'Chinese Whispers' when I was a kid in the UK. Hopefully it has a more PC name now.

Last weekend I was having lunch at the slanted door with my sister and her mates and we came up with this game. It works in just the same way as the telephone except you pass around a facial expression. Obviously, there's a lot of looking away involved, and at the end the starter and finisher face the group and show the difference.

Silly but fun.

23 April 2003

Little robots bathed in light.

I had an image of small robots, built without batteries, powered via solar cells in a really well lit environment. The lighting would mean solar power could provide enough energy for movement. The initial picture in my head was a humanoid robot, able to dance around because he didn't have the big backpack these robots usually need to store their batteries.

I was also wondering about the possibility of using mechanical methods of 'charging up' for a move which could be an issue when the robot fell over. I'm not sure this would be so much better than using capacitors.

Of course there's no real need for this light to be visible. IR/UV make work better, but there could be issues with the amount of energy.

Bar TV Selector

The sports bar near my house has the usual huge number of TV's. I was thinking about something the size of the napkin dispenser that was on the table that would provide the audio of your choice. I originally thought it would be cool if the device had an arrow on the top so you just point the arrow at the tv an it works. I had visions of a hall effect chip to work out the direction, which would drive an fm radio tuner.

Then Jay from the train (clever chap, just finished a Phd in Education) the train suggested using IR to beam the audio. Then placing a vertical slot in the side of the box would provide the 'aiming line' for chosing an audio source. Installation would be simplified as you could just place an audio to IR converter on top of each TV.

18 April 2003

Dancing Palm Trees

I remember seeing huge things fluttering in the air at a festival. They were basically a fabric tube with a dirty great fan at the bottom. The air caused almost random movement due to the length of the tube.

My thought is that with a fan whose angle you could adjust slightly, you could effectively control a shorter fabric tube. If you decorated and embellished the tube so it looked like a palm tree, then slapped in a beat detector to control the tree, then you'd have a dancing palm tree. I'm sure you've always wanted one...

One cool thing would be that the whole unit should pack down incredibly small, as its all light fabric.

Move indicating game peices

Game peices made of clear glass/plastic that contain a mixture of liquid and some other material. Almost like a snowglobe, but imagine black or white inks with the oppsite colur flecks in them. moving the peice stirs stuff up so you can see who's moved a peice.

Maybe the heat of the players fingers could be used too, like the stick-on fish tank thermometers.

13 March 2003

Link aware code control/document store.

I'm sure this has been done already, but it would be cool if when I copy and pasted code from the web, I could add the url as a comment, and the source control system would watch the page for me, checking daily for significant changes and mail me if any occured.

The hard bit's probably detecting a significant change in the pointed to page.

11 March 2003

Two-level smoke alarms

Smoke alarms that bip occasionally at a lower sensitivity that they go off. For cooks that like their meat well-done.

Thinking about it, this could be done in a separate box, maybe a fridge magnet. Not sure what the logistics of americium (the radioactive element in smoke detectores) in a fridge magnet are tho.

9 March 2003

Additives for illegal drugs.

An additive for illegal drugs that's will make it unusable. Shredded glass or something. The idea is that when drugs are found by police or similar this stuff can be added to instantly nullify street value and chances of abuse.

I'm not sure if it would exist, but if there was an additive that didn't affect test forensic results or had a predictable effect on them, it would allow it to be added at the crime scene.

Added 18 April 2003

Aaron informs me he heard a rumour about this being done to pot in the sixties. I'll investigate...

12 Feb 2000

A bevvy of random recent ones. First USB key fob things..

USB is just about ubiquitous now, and if you go to the easy everything net cafe's in the UK they're near enough everywhere. There's 8MB storage available in little blobs, but its aren't too cheap. An interesting alternative would be a system where just a small unique ID is held. Hopefully this would make the device cheap. This isn't really a new idea, its just always going to be under-exploited. Sell the things as a gift, or give them away as a freebie. Roll gator style password holding into it. You could have a row of slots outside a shop, plug in your fob and it tells you if you have mail. A small, cheap, machine readable form of semi anonymous ID has a lot of potential. hmm..

Added 18 July 2002
Adding an old style combination lock to the fob would make it a nice object, whilst providing the user with a sense of additonal security.

Karaoke 'Box'

Not the Japanese name for a karaoke gaff, but an idea for a further expansion of the 'box' TV channel concept. For those that don't know the box is a satellite/cable TV channel here in the UK, that plays music videos and offers an automated system where you can dial a premium rate number and choose which video is played. They've recently launched two branded versions of the system, based on kiss the cheesy dance radio station and Q magazine. After a recent heavy evening session I thought, why don't they do a version with bad karaoke tunes on. I've mailed them.

Sweets in fag machines

Put packs of jelly babies in cigarette machines.

Physical feedback baby monitors

Bracelets or similar for concerned parents that vibrate or change shape slightly based on the behaviour/movement/physiological status of their child.

Update March 2003: A knowledable friend pointed out to me that a young baby's heart isn't the most regular thing in the world, and its natural for it to beat strangely every now at then while the baby's getting used to being alive.

3 Jan 2000

To start with a hand wavy description of a system for free (to the user) upstream capability on satellite or terrestrial digital broadcast system.

Most satellite or terrestrial digital systems are reasonably powerful (in terms of CPU etc.) and rely on a telephone line for their upstream capability. Call charges will limit the willingness of people to play multiplayer games, e-mail or use other upstream dependant applications.

If a provider paid for a block of, say 1000 numbers and then the user's box dialed numbers to transmit data upstream. A combination of Caller ID and choice of number to dial could be used to transmit data. Calls are never answered, but the caller's phone number is recorded.

For example, A backgammon move, inefficiently coded as two numbers between 1 and 24 (we assume the server rolls the dice) will result in a number between 0 and 23*24+23 = 575. The user's box then dials 01234 567+ the three digits of the move number.

The most obvious problem is the lack of upstream bandwidth. If we were, for example, transmitting an e-mail (ASCII data), it would require 5 calls to transmit 7 characters. At maybe 10 seconds to make every connection that means 7 characters every 50 seconds (8.4 characters a minute). This idea so far is around 1100 characters. It would take 130 minutes, or just over 2 hours to transmit. Not so good.

It zip's down to 618 bytes, but this would take 497 calls, or about 85 minutes. Not good.

Some services would be suitable however. Gambling and simple interactions would be possible. The delays definitely rule out any kind of twitch gaming, but non-twitch traditional gaming enjoys huge popularity on the web.

Now a silly on I just had. Full service taxi drivers for the drunk and obscenely wealthy

Special Taxi firms in big cities, that will drive you home, help you get into your house and then tuck you into bed, stack up 3 pint glasses of water, resolve and dioralyte next to your bed,  close your curtains, disconnect your phone and set your alarm.