Problem 19 – Crutches

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Problem

Crutches can be tiring to use and also cumbersome to carry around.

Possible Solution

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The main purpose of a crutch is to support a person’s leg if it is injured; so that they can lean their body on the crutch instead of the leg when walking.

I think a better solution would involve the injured person not having to walk differently to how they normally would. This means that they will not have to carry a crutch and lean on it, which also means that they will always have both arms free.

If a tougher and lighter material was used to make a crutch then its size could be reduced, and it might even be able to be hidden under trousers. A material such as carbon fibre could be used and create a thin frame around the injured leg. The frame can then extend further down the leg than the foot, and so the foot will never have to touch the ground.

The main problem would to be finding a place to attach the crutch. The thigh is a possibility but might have to be quite tight and so could be uncomfortable for long periods of time. The hip is another possibility but would mean that it would have to be quite a bit larger.

Of course, carbon fibre crutches will be a lot more expensive than existing ones, however if there is a comfortable place for it to be held on the body and it can be discrete, then it could be worth it.

As always, if you think you have a solution or if you have a problem you like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

Problem 18 – Bike Thefts

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Problem

Bike thefts are a common problem, particularly with parts being stolen. Quite often, even if the bike frame is locked, the wheels can still be stolen and vice versa.

Possible Solution

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Some people use 3 locks when securing their bike; one lock per wheel and one on the frame. The locks will also have to be strong enough to stop theives cutting through them. This usually involves the cyclist having to carry 3 heavy locks with them whenever they use their bike.

I think the locks can be more integrated with the bike, so the cyclist will not have to carry them separately and they will always be ready to be used. Two locks can be secured on the bike by the front and rear wheels and lock the wheels when the cyclist activates them. Another lock on the body can then secure the bike to a railing.

Adding connectivity between the locks and the cyclist’s phone will mean extra functionality can be put on the locks. They can contain GPS for the user to locate their bike if it has been stolen. They can also contain a remote locking feature so the user can lock the wheels and prevent the bike being used if it is missing.

These locks will have to be made out of a very hard and tough material to prevent it from being broken by thieves. They might also have to be recharged or have batteries replaced if it has the extra functionality with a phone. However they could encourage more people to cycle if they know that they can track their bike, and know that it will be very difficult to steal.

Problem 17 – Do Street Lights Need to be On All Night?

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Problem

When you’re flying over a city on a plane at night, you can usually only see the lights below and all the streets that are brightly lit. However, many streets will not be in constant use all night, and so the lights will be wasting electricity by staying on. They also generate light pollution which can be a problem in residential areas.

Possible Solution

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If street lights are able to detect when cars or people are on the street and turn on when required then they will save a lot of electricity. This can be done by having motion sensors on the lights. However it would not be a good solution if the lights only turned on when they detect movement, and do not light far enough for people to see ahead clearly. Therefore, they will have to be able to communicate with each other and, for example, if one light at a junction lights and detects that a car turns into a particular road, then all the lights on that road can turn on as well.

The motion sensor might not be reliable when it is raining or foggy, so it might have to be combined with an infrared sensor to recognise cars and people on the road. The lights might also have to be constantly on, but dimmed, so that it can turn on quickly; however, this might not be required if LED lights are used.

This solution might be more suitable for residential areas where only a couple of cars use the street all night, and the light can be more of a nuisance to people trying to sleep.

As always, if you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

Problem 16 – Spitting Oil

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Problem

A common problem I have when frying something is that the oil in the pan spits out and covers my cooktop, and quite often also gets on me which can be very painful.

Possible Solution

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A simple solution would be to put a lid on the pan, however this will then mean that the food is not as easy to access. Also, if it’s not a glass lid then the state of the food cannot be seen.

A better solution would involve still being able to access the food, while also preventing the oil from coming out of the pan. This could be done by having a lid with a slot for a wooden spoon to still access the food, and also having a hole on the top to allow addition of ingredients. The lid will have to be made out of glass, so the user can still see the state of the food. The hole on top will also have to be in a funnel shape to minimise oil spitting out.

The main problem would be the difficulty to mix or flip the food on the pan with this lid on. Although there is a slot for a wooden spoon, it will still restrict its movement. A solution for this would be to make a larger cut-out in the lid for the spo0n. An attachment can then be put on the spoon to cover the hole, which will minimise oil coming out.

Of course, another disadvantage of this product would be that there will be another item to wash up afterwards. However it might be easier than cleaning the whole stove surface, and also getting burnt by the oil. There might also have to be different sizes to accommodate different pan sizes.

As always, if you think you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

Problem 15 -Standing Up

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Problem

Sometimes getting up from a seat can be difficult, especially for elderly people. They usually have to be helped up or spend a while clambering up. It also usually means they are restricted to sitting in firm seats only.

Possible Solution

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The logical solution would be to make the seat help its user up, however this will have to be done using a very careful and safe method. One way a seat can do this is to slowly straighten in the vertical direction.

In order to do this safely, it will have to make sure the user has their feet on the ground first. This can be done by having a pressure sensor on the floor where the user’s feet would go. It can lower the height of its legs until it detects that the user has their feet firmly on the ground. Once it detects this then it can slowly straighten itself, however it will finish at a slight angle to give the user something to lean on. Its arms can also follow this movement in order to provide the user with arm supports as well. The arms will also prevent the user from falling off sideways.

Once it detects that the user has stepped away for a period of time then it can fold back up, or even stay in the same position until the user stands on the pressure pad again and presses a button to make it fold back into a chair.

A seat like this might cost a lot more than a conventional wooden chair, however it might prove to be invaluable to an eldery person who lives alone.

As always, if you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

Problem 14 – How Much Electricity does Everything Use?

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Problem

I recently got a bit of shock when I saw my electricity bill, as it was quite a bit higher than I expected. I am not able to see my meter where I live, so am not able to track how much electricity I am using. Even if I had a meter, I wouldn’t be too sure what is really using the most energy.

Possible Solution

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There are smart meters that can track energy usage in real time and how much it is costing as well, however they are unable to track individual products. A solution would be if a product could connect to smart meters and phones, and give the ability to see the energy usage of individual products.

A method to measure the energy usage of products would be to have a measuring device between the plug and wall socket. This method could be quite discrete and just involve a slim ‘puck’ that slots onto any plug. The ‘puck’ would have to contain the measuring element and also a chip to transmit the data. It also cannot be too thick to prevent the plug from being plugged into the socket. Using this method would also mean that these ‘pucks’ can stay on all plugs and become a semi-permanent feature.

The data from the ‘puck’ can then be transmitted to a phone and smart meter, and then individual breakdowns can be accessed. However, the user will have to manually name the product that each ‘puck’ is connected to, which can be edited when it changes.

As always, if you think you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

Problem 13 – Dirty Shoes

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Problem

It is very difficult to avoid getting our shoes dirty, so occasionally we will have to clean them or pay someone to clean them for us. Usually, for the majority of the day, we won’t be wearing our shoes, so they have plenty of time to be cleaned. The only problem is that we do not have plenty of time to clean them.

Possible Solution

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The logical solution would be for them to be cleaned when they are not being worn. This could mean that we do not have to do anything or even be aware that they are being cleaned, and that they are just ready for us when we need to wear them again.

Many people put their shoes in a shoe rack when they’re not being worn, therefore if they could be cleaned in the rack then it will not disrupt what a lot of people do anyway. The rack can be modified slightly so that shoes go in closed compartments, which will contain the cleaning equipment. The user can just put their shoes in and then choose if they want their shoes to be cleaned and what level of cleaning they want. It can then show the user how long the cleaning will take, which will mean that the user will know if they will be ready for when they next need them.

The main problem with this concept is with how the shoes will be cleaned. This is because all shoes vary in size, shape and material, and so there is not a universal method to clean all shoes. The product will have to be smart enough to recognise what shoe it is, or the user will have to input the information. Shoe cleaning can also be quite in intricate process, which is why there are very few fully automated shoe cleaning products.

I have not managed to come up with clear solution for this problem, so if you think you have a solution for this problem or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.