Saturday, 21 February 2015


Willpower is one of those rare things that, the more you spend, the more you have. So, spend today's willpower today and worry about tomorrow's willpower tomorrow.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

A suggestion for the improvement in design of a sausage grilling rack

In pursuit of the perfectly evenly grilled and browned sausage I have been thwarted on many an occasion by a sausage's propensity to roll, and the grilling rack's complicity to such rolling. I therefore suggest that sausage require a specially designed grilling rack with a series of relatively sharp (although not as sharp as a knife) points, that vary in position along the length of the sausage, and provide appropriate grip to hold the sausage at any angle to the vertical.

The diagram below illustrates:

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Cycle light pointer towards cyclist

Normally cycle lights are set up to point away from the cyclist, towards the cars in front and behind. Whilst bright, these lights typically provide a small point of light. An alternative, to provide a greater lit area, would be for the cyclist to wear reflective clothing, and have the light sources pointed at the cyclist. This way, the whole of the cyclist is illuminated, providing a larger shape that's more visible and interpretable by drivers. This will be particular effective with a flashing light.

The importance detail to get right in the design of this system is to ensure the light illuminates the cyclist whilst not blinding him/her.

And obviously, this design will be superseded by the soon to be commercialised light-emitting clothing.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Appeal for witnesses app

I know very little about how the police go about looking for witnesses, but my presumption is that appeals for witnesses are either not done or are ineffective for less-serious crimes.

As such, I believe there is an opportunity for an app that will allow citizens to help.

The app would run in the background on the person's smartphone, collecting time / location data (and potentially also mode of transport). When police officer records a crime, it is entered into a database, with the time and location. The app periodically (e.g. every hour) queries the database, and if there's a time / location match, then it notifies the user. The user can then think if they remember seeing / hearing anything, and have the choice to be put in contact with the police.

The key features of this system are:

  • It's entirely opt-in for the users: they choose to download the app, and can choose to uninstall at any moment
  • The potential witnesses' data does not leave their phone - there's no police state where the whereabouts of everyone is tracked
The service could monetise by charging the police forces a small administrative fee per crime uploaded (or per witness provided).

The benefit to the app users is that they can contribute to keeping their community safe (deterring crime through effective policing), with relatively little inconvenience, and no threat to their data.

The benefit to the police is an automated, high-reach way of finding witnesses.

The benefit to the criminals...? Well, hopefully they can be rehabilitated into being productive members of society.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Ultrasound knife

Would it be possible to improve the cutting effectiveness of knives (and other cutting implements) by vibrating them with ultrasound? Potentially a range of ultrasonic frequencies could be used to find the optimum for the material being cut. The knife would be an ultrasound emitted build into it, together with a battery. A set of knives could sit on a charging station (ideally wireless charging so the knives could be sealed units).

Break-even patents

One of the problems with the existing patent system is that the clock starts ticking towards expiry of the patent as soon as the patent is filed, despite the fact that the inventor may need to invest significantly more time before the resulting product can be commercialised.

Whilst not wanting to extend patent protection by an arbitrary amount, one solution would be to give the inventor a choice at the point of filing between a standard 20-year patent, and a break-even patent.

A break-even patent would last until the inventor recovered all costs associated with the original invention an commercialisation, subject to the following criteria:

  • The cost and revenue information would be required to be published
  • The financial reports would have to be audited by an independent auditor, the fees of whom would not be costs counted towards the break-even
  • The inventor must take reasonable steps to commercialise (e.g. accepting offers of support for further development and commercialisation). A key feedback mechanism is that a potential purchaser of the technology could file to have the patent invalidated if the inventor is not progressing with development him or herself, or willing to licence.
  • The patent application costs would not count towards the break-even