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Finally, you can become an ant, thanks to the power of VIRTUAL REALITY.

Background:

Currently, there is no easy way to have the experience of becoming a tiny ant [*]. This is a shortcoming that could not be addressed—until now, thanks to modern VR technology!

[*] You could watch the 1989 film Honey I Shrunk the Kids, but that isn’t an interactive experience.

Proposal:

Thanks to virtual reality, you can become an ant in 3 steps:

  1. Get a VR headset.
  2. Create a small remote-controlled car with two cameras on the front.
  3. Set up the R.C. car cameras to transmit to the VR headset.

Figure 1 shows the result of these steps.

Now you can be an ant!

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Fig. 1: Left: someone wearing a VR headset that receives a pair of video signals from the remote-controlled car (orange) shown in the magnifying-glass inset (right)

 

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Fig. 2: The experience of the viewer in VR goggles is shown at right. This is definitely exactly what an ant looks like close-up, as anyone who has seen the “Planet Earth” series can confirm. That’s how you know that this image was drawn with extensive consultation of reference material.

Conclusion:

This “ant VR” system theoretically be used for other purposes as well; maybe the ant-sized drone could check for cracks in hard-to-access parts of bridges or buildings, or an aquatic version could swim through a city’s water system to allow maintenance personnel to both look for leaks AND ALSO pretend to be an eel at the same time. Finally!

PROS: Lets you feel kinship with your insectoid brethren, the ants.

CONS: After spending a while in VR, you might think you actually ARE an ant and become unable to participate in human society.

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Figure 3 (bonus): An extremely detailed technical schematic that will be used for manufacturing.

 

Stop getting run over by those passenger-transport golf carts in airport concourses with this one incredible tip, brought to you by the Big Laser Pointer industry.

Background:

Airport terminals often have small golf-cart-like trams that can be driven around in the passenger concourses. These are often used to help people move around the concourses (for example, one might be used to help a passenger with a leg in a cast who is trying to make it to a connecting flight).

The issue:

These passenger carts can move quickly, and may run over pedestrians in the terminal. To help prevent this, the carts usually emit an incredibly loud and annoying beep (like a truck backing up).

However, it is usually not very obvious where a cart is based only on the annoying beeping sound, especially in a crowded concourse (Figure 1).

 

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Fig. 1: The annoying beeping coming from this airport golf cart lets people know that a cart is nearby, but requires pedestrians to 1) find the cart and 2) figure out what path the cart is attempting to take through the airport crowds.

 

Proposal:

Instead of only beeping, the passenger cart could also have a special set of headlights that would project a “danger zone” image in front of them. This would make it extremely obvious as to where pedestrians should not walk.

 

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Fig. 2: This updated passenger cart has special headlights that project a “danger zone” region in the path of travel of the cart. These headlights could be repurposed laser pointers with a more spread out pattern (instead of a single dot).

Conclusion:

These new headlights could be an after-market attachment, since most airports will probably not want to replace their existing fleet of golf carts.

The light would only turn on when the shuttle is moving and would only consume as much energy as ~10 handheld laser pointers, so it shouldn’t substantially reduce cart battery life.

PROS: Would make it much easier to avoid being run over by an airport carts.

CONS: Probably… none? Is this a legitimately good idea?

 

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Fig. 3 (bonus): Illustration for a hypothetical patent application.

Improve print quality and generate an impressive high-contrast résumé with this amazing mirror-image two-sided printing plan.

Background:

When printing non-color text on paper, you generally want to print the text as dark as possible, for maximum contrast.

Proposal:

With this new “two-sided mirror printing” idea, text can be printed darker than is normally possible, with this one trick: the printer automatically prints a mirror image of your text on the opposite side of the page.

This mirror-image text contributes (very slightly) to darkening the overall text on the side that is intended to be read (Figure 1).

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Fig. 1: This sheet of paper has a “2” printed on both sides (mirror-imaged on the back), but the other text is printed only on one side. Note that the 2 is slightly darker than the other text.

This process has been empirically tested: it actually does work, but is only really noticeable if you hold the paper up to a light. See Figures 2 and 3 for experimental evidence.

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Fig. 2: A piece of paper that has been printed with overlapping black rectangles on both sides: here, we see only one side (a normal view of the sheet of paper without any backlighting).

 

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Fig. 3: Here, the same piece of paper from Figure 2 was held in front of a light. The overlapping printed regions (center) are dramatically darker than the regions that were printed on one side only (left and right areas). The numbers indicated are the pixel values as measured in extremely unscientific fashion (0% would be the JPEG’s lowest black value, and 100% would be the JPEG’s brightest white value).

Conclusion:

Although this method uses twice as much ink (and potentially twice as much paper), it produces text that is subtly higher contrast under very specific lighting conditions.

The brightness measuring technique shown in Figure 3 is methodologically questionable; I don’t recommend plagiarizing it in your Methods section if you are attempting to publish a research paper.

PROS: Increases text contrast, helps support the struggling printer supply industry, which has been hit hard by the diabolical “Paperless Office.”

CONS: May increase unsustainable usage of natural resources, hastening the transformation of the Earth into a barren and windswept wasteland, devoid of all life and completely silent except for the sound of printers attempting to automatically clear a paper jam.

Help fund and preserve the arts by extending copyright FOREVER! Additionally, auction off all old historical works to be re-copyrighted by the highest bidder. It’s good for the economy, too!

Background:

Copyright laws are generally over 100 years from the creation of a work. For example, a book written in 2020 will not be part of the public domain until after the year 2120.

The issue:

But if extending copyright so long is good, why is it that we allow it to expire at all?

In fact, why not “re-copyright” old works and take them out of the public domain? This will supply the financial incentive to preserve these works so that they will be preserved for future generations.

Proposal:

  1. Copyright will no longer expire ever.
  2. All currently-existing creative works will be auctioned off, internationally, to the highest bidder.

So if you ever wanted to own the exclusive rights to publish The Canterbury Tales, Dante’s Inferno, the plays of Shakespeare, or any classic mythology, now’s your chance! Previously, you did not have the freedom to exclusively own a work of history and culture, but now you do!

(You could also buy the copyright and then just sit on it, preventing anyone else from enjoying the work you now own, if you were so inclined.)

The money raised from this auction could be divvied up by the countries with the most copyright enforcement and/or largest militaries. Or it could be split “equitably” by GDP or population.

For example, if Dante’s Inferno raised a total of 10 million dollars for the copyright, then the money could be divided by total population as follows:

  • Italy (0.8% of world population) –> $80,000
  • Indonesia (3.5% of world population):  $350,000
  • Monaco (0.00051% of world population): $51
  • (And more to other countries)

 

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Fig. 1: The new “infinite copyright” term (black, at right) is even longer than the previous terms. The bars indicate how long a copyright would last for a work created at a specific year under American copyright law.

 

Of course, this copyright extension would also include visual art and sculptures (e.g. the Mona Lisa, the Easter Island Moai, ancient cave paintings), historical music (e.g. Beethoven, Bach), and even architecture (the Eiffel Tower, the Great Pyramids of Giza, etc.).

So if you wanted to play “Ode To Joy” on a piano, you’d need to buy an official licensed set of sheet music and performance rights from whoever the top bidder was.

It would, naturally, be illegal to take a picture of a famous building or sculpture without paying a licensing fee. This is already partially implemented in today’s laws: for example, if you want to film a scene of a movie with the Chicago “Reflective Giant Bean” sculpture in the background, you may have to cough up hundreds or thousands of dollars (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_Gate).

Conclusion:

Don’t let copyright expire, and don’t let it only apply to current works! It needs to be retroactively applied to all historical cultural artifacts and works of art.

PROS: Provide a financial incentive for the copyright holders to continue preserving and updating the works in question, thus ensuring their continuation for future generations. Keeps lowlifes and degenerates from cheapening art or music by appreciating it without paying for it.

CONS: None!

 

Cure “distracted movie-watching” with a horrendous trick for directors who hate their audiences and want to punish them for insufficient cinematic dedication! Netflix must add this feature NOW.

Background:

People often don’t pay much attention to movies, preferring to play on their cell phones while the movie runs in the background.

(After all, if you miss an important scene, you’ll can always rewind and watch it again.)

The issue:

This lack of dedication to the cinematic arts is a phenomenon that movie directors surely despise!

What if directors could punish the insufficiently-dedicated movie fans by making their movies unwatchable (or at least incredibly confusing) to the cell-phone-game-playing-while-watching-a-movie audience?

Proposal:

In order to sabotage the enjoyment of those who don’t put enough dedication into the movie-watching experience, the following system is devised:

  1. The movie plays normally, at first.
  2. If you rewind the movie, it cuts to a different, specially-filmed scene that does not belong in the narrative. This scene is crafted by the director to make the rest of the movie as confusing as possible.

The director could film several of these intentionally-confusing “deleted scenes,” to be shown in various points of the movie. Below, and in Figure 1, are a few suggestions:

Movie Examples:

  • The Godfather: if you rewind, a scene is shown where Michael plots to kill his own father so that he can take over the family business.
  • The Empire Strikes Back: Darth Vader uses The Force to inform Luke that Obi-Wan Kenobi was actually his father.
  • Rocky: a scene shows Rocky putting heavy metal objects in his boxing gloves to allow him to cheat his way to victory.
  • The Matrix: Morpheus talks with Agent Smith, who is complimenting him for being a double-agent.
  • The Lion King: Mufasa falls into a canyon and hits a rock, splitting in the middle and revealing that he was actually not a lion after all, but instead a warthog and a meerkat operating a two-“person” lion costume.
  • Game of Thrones: a bizarre extended scene is added in which a king is sent on a commando raid and/or suicide mission.
  • Westworld Season 2: unaltered, as it is impossible to confuse the viewer any further.
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi: unaltered, as it is impossible to punish the viewer any further.

A malicious director could also reveal a real plot twist early, or put in an incredibly annoying jump scare.

 

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Fig. 1: Pulp Fiction (1994) involves a briefcase with valuable (but unseen) contents. A scene-rewind could reveal the contents as a Betamax tape of the infamous unreleased film “The Day the Clown Cried.” Whether this would actually undermine the stakes of the film (or improve it!) is up for debate.

Observation:

Almost any movie can be made totally misleading with minimal effort by adding a scene in which a protagonist is (falsely) shown to be colluding with the enemy.

PROS: Directors will be able to torment any insufficiently-dedicated fans of cinema who dare to watch their films.

CONS: Sometimes, an intentionally-misleading twist might actually improve a movie.

Get exercise and improve your self-control with this new eco-friendly hand-crank-powered cell phone!

The issue:

It is frequently asserted that people are addicted to cell phones. If only there were a technical solution to this problem!

Proposal:

Here’s a simple solution to discourage casual cell phone use: a cell phone with two features:

  1. A strict limit on the amount of time you can use each program. (This feature already exists.)
  2. A hand crank on the side of the phone (Figure 1) that lets you circumvent the limit while you turn the crank.
    • (Turning the crank also charges the phone battery, which makes this an eco-friendly idea as well.)
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Fig. 1: The crank-powered phone at left has reached its daily limit of unmetered browsing. In order to keep using it, its owner must turn the charger crank (shown at right). Note that the manufacturer of this phone has slavishly copied the 2017 iPhone X notch.

Alternatives to the crank could also be employed: foot pedals, a bellows, or The Wheel of Pain from the 1982 Conan the Barbarian movie.

The crank could also be useful in other situations (Figure 2).

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Fig. 2: The charger crank would add verisimilitude to this slot machine app.

Conclusion:

This eco-friendly idea is guaranteed to be a staple of future phone / tablet / laptop design.

Alternative Version:

An alternative formulation of this idea would be to not meter usage by time, but just require a user to turn the crank 50 times before an app will launch or a web page will load.

PROS: Discourages casual phone use out of boredom / habit. Provides a good arm workout, especially if you remember to flip it 180º occasionally to work out both arms.

CONS: Might not actually reduce phone use, but now there would be an annoying grinding sound of people turning cell phone cranks everywhere. Would increase the frequency of dropped phones.

Easily win the Tour de France every year thanks to this bicycle secret: there’s no law that says you CAN’T enter the race with multiple people on a bike! [*]

[*] But you would be disqualified from the race.

Background:

Bicycle races have stagnated due to their archaic one-rider-per-bike format.

Proposal:

To usher in a new era of bicycle-based excitement add variety to bicycle races, an “entrant” to the race could be re-defined as a single bicycle, rather than a single person.

Then, participants would be able to use any style of bike (and number of riders) that they felt was suitable for a specific stage of the race. Figure 1 shows a couple of relatively conservative options.

Although this may sound like a radical change, it is based on sound historical precedent:

  1. Olympic rowing has a category for eight people in a boat (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_(rowing)), so there is no reason that something similar couldn’t work for bicycling as well.
  2. There are existing tandem bicycles for six (or more) people: https://www.google.com/search?q=6+person+tandem+bike . You could order one today!
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Fig. 1: The tandem bike on the right has a similar rolling resistance and wind profile as the single-occupant bicycle, but double the power output from the riders.

It might turn out a “single-bike peloton” made up of a dozen or more riders would be the best race strategy.

Or perhaps the ideal bike would be able to pivot in the middle (like an accordion bus), with more than one steer-able wheel, as shown in Figure 2.

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Fig. 2: Top: a four-seater tandem bike. Bottom: An eight-person articulated bike that can bend around corners, which would help on especially winding roads.

Conclusion:

This is clearly the future of bicycle-related sports. You should lobby some extremely-corrupt sports regulatory organization and get this change implemented! (You will probably need a lot of money and/or incriminating evidence in order to succeed.)

PROS: Re-invigorates a hundred-plus-year-old sport.

CONS: Greatly increases the options for catastrophic bike collisions. May make passing nearly impossible.