Monday, 12 May 2014

Modular reusable construction for adults

Kids have some great toys that harness the power of modular, reusable construction. The most obvious example is Lego, but there are many others.

But there seems to be a dearth of equivalents at a larger scale, for larger scale construction projects. And yet to produce them would be relatively easy. There is already lumber in standard sizes, the ubiquitous 2x4, amongst others. What is needed is connectors for these, for a range of joints: corners, Ts, etc.

It may be possible to have a two-step connector system. One piece of plastic is screwed permanently (or at least semi-permanently) into the ends of the piece of wood. And another piece of plastic joins those plastic fittings, with a simple clip-in and clip-out. This way, each length of wood can be quickly reused in many different configurations, as can the plastic fittings that aren't permanently fixed to the wood.

Obviously the fittings could be made out of metal rather than plastic if load is anticipated to be significant.

How many contracts?

How many contracts does an individual enter into in a lifetime?

If an extant contract is one that could have bearing on a contract decision made by a court (or other authority), how many contracts are people typically party to at one point in time?

How about organisations?

It seems to me the task of tracking contractual rights and obligations is currently an impossible task to achieve to any degree of completeness.

How could a software solution help?

Superhydrophilic coatings

Superhydrophobic coatings have received significant publicity in recent years, particularly in regard to claims of keeping surfaces clean. However, it occurs to me that superhydrophilic coatings will have numerous potential uses as well.

A superhydrophilic coating counter-acts water's surface tension property allowing a thin film of water to be maintained on a surface. In relatively moist environments a superhydrophilic coating may help keep a surface clean by maintaining a thin film of water that prevents the adhesion of "dirt" and may provide lubrication.

Washing line tension

It seems to me likely that as washing on a washing line dries, the tension on the line should reduce as the mass of the clothing on the line will be less. It may be possible for a sensor and processor to monitor the tension of the line, and hence infer when the washing is likely to be dry - the decrease in tension will have levelled off.

The line tension sensor may also be able to warn when it is raining, as the clothes will begin to increase in mass (although an integrated rain gauge or other weather sensors would probably be more accurate.

However, such an approach may be limited by the level of noise in the system due to wind causing fluctuations in tension of the line. Other methods could be: photo-spectroscopic analysis of a laser pointed as a particular (and hopefully representative) item of clothing; humidity sensor placed along the line.