I was surprised and delighted to win the double gold award, at the BIS British Invention Show October 2008. I won the prize because the plastic came product camefix is practical and innovative. It’s the best thing I won since I won 20 bottles of real ale in a CAMRA raffle.
My favourite invention was the batik tool. Traditionally Batik (wax resist painting to decorate cloth) is done by dipping the tool with a wax-reservoir into a pot of melted hot wax. The invention was that a soldering iron handle had been fitted to the reservoir so the wax is always hot, so the spout won’t get blocked by solid, cooled wax, and also reduces dripping. So clever!
My favourite mad inventor was Steve who invented Loominate, a led torch on a rope. He has invented lots of stuff but never gets rich because he invests it all in his next invention.
The most useful invention was by an Iranian lady who thought that eye ulcers are caused by a virus (because it’s been found out that stomach ulcers are) and has invented a cure for them.
No cures for war famine pestilence or death though.
Inventions are to cure perceived ills, not actual ills. The slash-proof hoodie for example addresses our fear that our kids will be stabbed; 21 youths have been killed by stabbing or shooting this year but road traffic crashes account for about 3500 deaths each year in the UK, with ten times as many people seriously injured. Each day, two people under the age of 24 commit suicide. Common causes cited include bullying, abuse, poverty, homelessness, and alcohol abuse. I can’t right now think of an invention to cure those things.
I am following the progress of the sea-water greenhouse (not seen at the BSI) which provides a low-cost solution to one of the world's greatest needs – fresh water. It may offer sustainable solution to the problem of providing water for agriculture in arid, coastal regions. The evaporation of seawater cools and humidifies the air that ventilates the greenhouse using sunlight to distil fresh water from seawater. It seems to me a devastatingly good idea, and I am sorry that they are not being built in great numbers but I suppose they are relatively costly (in that not building them at all costs nothing), and who will pay?
I was also impressed by the solar tower at Seville (James May’s TV programme). It is surrounded by mirrors that shine the sun onto it to collect solar energy.