I've been expecting these
Where are they?

hese items require no great reallignment of society, but would greatly benefit (some more than others) the general conduct of civilization. Why they are not in place or available has me puzzled. Perhaps some are "under development"? Whatever ...

The Intelligent Traffic Light

When will the traffic lights of the United States be fitted with "neural net" type intelligent controls? Why are we waiting at red lights in the middle of the night waiting for no one on the cross street? ... An interesting Q ... If you're out in the boondocks at night and the are no Kids, Kars or Kops anywhere ... do you sit and wait for the light to turn green? Some fools robots might (those with a kneejerk obedience to authority).

Think what traffic jams could be mitigated at rush hour ... tempers cooled ... a triumph of rationality. What's the holdup? Nobody knows how to detect rudimentary car shapes, count 'em apply an algorythm for maximum traffic efficiency? All this is difficult to perfect, but perfect isn't required to make tremendous improvement in the present condition. The only caveat ... a mechanical device must still be present to prevent -absolutely- the possibility of simultaneous green signals in both directions (as is presently the case).

Black & white digital cameras

Where are the black and white digital cameras? Color costs bokoo bucks but BW is tremendoulsy cheaper ... and it has definite niche uses.

The main use I can think of immediately is in low end security. I would like to have had on many occasions a small device that would take someone's picture (good enough to identify the culprit ... maybe 300x300 pixels in 256 gray scale) and simultaneously record about 10-20 seconds of sound. All automatic mind you ... you just point & click and record for "evidence".

To keep it small, there would be no speakers or display on the thing. You would take the recorder back to it's power cradle / display station to view your recording later. I can envision a device no larger than 1"x2"x1/4" ... cigarette lighter size. Put it on your key chain. Picture memory is digital and sound is very small tape (or digital if possible).

I think we're talking here ... 1-10K pictures.

The personal locator

This was available in the movie "Aliens". Why can't I find my wife in the mall? If I had a personal locator, I would just pull it out, beep once ... thus causing the object locator to emit a coded pulse ... which I in turn receive ... and home in on ... either by volume or direction (direction might require an antenna).

Here's the general poop.

  • Each locator is permanently in a low state "on" position. It can receive a signal ... power usage here about that of a digital watch in low-on state.
  • Want to find someone? Take out your's and put it in "high-on" position for signal transmission ... the other machine receives the signal and automatically goes into high-on also in order to return information ... then goes back into auto-low-on.
  • All locators use the same frequency with amplitude modulation or the same bandwidth with FM. They distinguish each other by their coded identiy which is installed on each different unit. If they receive an "answerable signal" they respond to it.
  • Which unit can respond to which is determined by the buyer who adjusts the settings for his people. Therefore, no unit responds to the wrong signal and you will be led to "your wife" and not someone else's.
What peace of mind could be obtained if your child had such a device in his pocket when going to Disney World or other such places where kids get lost (or stolen) regularly. We're talking cheap here too.

Cross-threaded bolts

A standard rule of mechanics is that all vertical-upside down screws or bolts come loose and fall out. It doesn't matter how tight they are ... they fall out eventually. Short of glueing, painting, or welding them together ... is there any way to keep a bolt tight?

Course ...

Run two nuts onto the bolt of opposite handedness. !??? Yes, this requires that left and right handed helixes be threaded onto the bolt. Such a bolt would have a texture similar to a rasp.

Tighten down the first nut ... then run the second down of the opposite hand. And ... this is important (or we've just removed the problem another step away instead of solving it) ... the nut heads have a "wave" surface such that they lock together with a "snap" when you've got 'em tightened properly.

Now, they can't come loose because they must first come over the "snap" bump, and neither can move without causing the other to move in the opposite direction ... which is impossible unless you use two pliers to move them yourself.

This would be excellent for toilet seat fasteners which can be hand tighened with a plastic wing nut. They always come loose (and no one wants to retighten the dirty things when they loosen).

Stick it to the wall tape

Dear 3M Company,

My name is Timmy and I go to school at Travis Elementary. We need some tape to stick our posters on the wall but they always come down. Can you make some tape for us.

Your friend,
Reply ... (30 years later) - - - - - - - - - - -

Dear Timmy,

Yes, Timbo ... We can help you. Our scientists have been working on some tape just for you. It was hard to figure out ... but we persevered and now we're sending you a roll to try out.

Let me explain the details in the enclosed brochure.

Warmest regards,
J.C. Throckmorton IV
C.E.O. 3M Company - Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minn.

Wonder Tape

Wonder tape is made from a "ripstop" plastic, perforated every 3 inches so that pieces of convenient size can be pulled off without the need of scissors (we don't want you to injure yourself).

Each side has adhesive on it so you can just "slap" it on the wall wherever you want. Then ... place the poster on the tape ... press and ... voila! Your poster is guaranteed to stay up for two weeks.

Notice that the adhesive is applied to the tape except within a quarter inch of the perforation. The reason for this is to facillitate easy removal. Just lift up the 1/4 inch no adhesive flap and pull it right off. (WOW!) And it won't tear ... cause it's ripstop, remember?

One other important point, Timmy. The adhesive is water soluble. It can be washed off the wall (or any surface) with a wet rag.

Yes, Timmy. Science is wonderful. We here at 3M ---

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