Brilliant Idea #322. Taxi trains

The train service that runs from my home to the city of London is probably not dissimilar to most other major towns and cities in the UK, if not most of the industrial World. We get 3-4 trains an hour and of course, the morning and evening commuter trains are full as is the first off-peak train, otherwise they are mostly empty.

It’s the principle problem that all train companies face. As demand rises, they increase capacity by increasing the number of carriages. Trains get longer and heavier. The heavier they are, the more they need to spend on fuel and the more maintenance they and the tracks need.

Brilliant idea #322 is to total re-think this approach which replaces long heavy trains with hundreds of small car-sized carriages. Rather than running the service based on a timetable, the carriage leaves when the passenger is ready to go. When there are no passengers, the carriages sit waiting. They stop when the passengers want it to stop therefore reducing the travel time and energy that is used stopping and getting back up to speed.

They are small and light so the impact on the maintenance of the line is minimal.

They are autonomously driven so there is no need for a driver which both reduces cost and increases safety. They know the stopping distance of the train in-front, so they control their speed to keep the required gap between itself and the train in-front.

They are significantly cheaper to build and maintain and completely electric. Because they only consume electricity when they are moving a passenger (rather than a train which is 20% full) they are significantly cheaper to run.

It’s the Boris bike (the London bike sharing – or presumably all bike sharing) model, but rather than a bike, it’s a small, car sized autonomously driven vehicle.


Brilliant Idea #316


I have a brick wall outside my kitchen window. It’s ugly. I am sure most of us – certainly in the UK where houses are generally built close together have a brick wall to look at.

I’d paint it if I could be sure that it wouldn’t look rubbish and trust me, if I painted it, it would look rubbish.

Brilliant Idea #316 is a paint by numbers mural kit.

paint by numbers

You could choose from lots of scenes. What you get is a large format image like this one to the right that has an adhesive coating so you stick it your wall, then with a scalpel you cut and peel off the shapes, number /colour by number / colour and paint them in.

I guess you could even provide a service where someone can upload a photo and, using software, create and print off the pain by numbers sheet.


Brilliant Idea #315. Sunlight extension screen

It’s time of year I wish someone would invent a screen for a laptop or tablet that you can read in direct sunlight. I’ve been trying to figure this out for a while.

Brilliant Idea #315 might be the answer. It’s a bluetooth screen the size of a tablet that mirrors whatever is on your phone, tablet or laptop, but it’s the same technology as a kindle or e-book reader. I think it’s called electronic ink, but whatever it’s called, it displays on a white background and can be read in the most direct sunlight.

It means that your extended screen is only now monochrome, but solves the problem that it’s impossible to use these devices when it’s sunny.


Brilliant Idea #314. Pylons that generate electricity


Brilliant Idea #314 puts a sail – fabric that is in the shape of  a wing that is then stretched inside the uprights. As wind passes over the sail it generates lift which pulls a cable up. The sail then drops and rises again, and drops and rises again. That oscillation is pulling a cable up and then releasing and up again and releasing. Every time that happens, electricity is generated.

The genius bit of this idea is that of course the pylon is already there – there are 88,000 pylons in the UK alone AND the electricity that is generated is put straight into the grid via the pylon.


Brilliant Idea #313. The rainproof park bench

park bench





















Park benches are rarely used on rainy days. Brilliant Idea #313 is a park bench that resists water. This will partly be the design – so no flat surfaces for the rain to sit, and partly the coating on the bench which will resist water and let gravity take over.


Brilliant Idea #312. Electric toothbrush guide















When you visit the dentist for a check-up they very methodically move round your mouth, tooth by took having a scrape and prod and they can tell immediately whether there are teeth or parts of your mouth that need extra brushing. If you can remember when you get home, you can then modify your brushing routine.

Brilliant Idea #312 is an electronic toothbrush that has a pre-recorded 2 minute ‘script’ that describes and reminds the brusher of where they need to brush so you simply follow the instructions. There would be generic script, but your dentist could record a script as well.


Brilliant Idea #311. Disguising wireless routers

wireless routerThe wireless router has become ubiqutous in our homes and offices. I have three in our humble home.

You might have noticed, they are pig ugly.

Brilliant Idea #311 is to make a beautiful wireless router – or one disguised as something more aesthetically pleasing.





This isn’t new. The mobile phone business has been disguising beacons as trees for years. The tree to the right is fake.

mobile beacon disguised as a tree













Brilliant Idea #311 is to build wireless routers or extenders into plants or flowers such as;



As well is it being aesthetically pleasing, it would actually be useful because it will be better at broadcasting the signal because it’s tall. Brilliant.

Brilliant Idea #289. Trading Places app

Brilliant Idea #289 is an app that allows people to earn money by trading their place in queue, their seat in a taxi or train or their ticket to an event with someone that wants it more.

As an example, I’m on the train but I don’t have a seat. Using the app I can find users nearby and broadcast to them that I would pay…£x for their seat. Those users get an alert and can reject it, barter or accept it. If they accept it, they send a message back saying where they are. When the transaction is agreed by both parties the amount agreed is debited from my account and paid, minus a commission to the person that has given up their seat.

Other examples;

[ezcol_1half]One side

– I’m in the City and I desperately need a taxi


– I’m nearly at the front of the queue for a restaurant, but I’m having a nice time chatting with my friends and would happily subsidize the cost of my night-out by trading my place with someone that is happy to pay to swap

– I have tickets for a show but I live in the City and can go at any time and will be happy to sell my ticket to someone that really wants them[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]The other side

– I’m in a taxi but not in a rush and will happily subsidize the fair by trading my place for some money and walking the rest of the way or waiting for another taxi

– I’m in a queue for a restaurant and am waiting for my number to be called


– I’m in the City for a short stay and would love to see a show and would be happy to pay someone that will trade places[/ezcol_1half_end]

It’s solving the problem that lots of the things we value have a capacity issue. It’s for people that experience this a lot – frequent users of public transport, restaurant goers etc. AND people that value some extra money to trade their place for a delay or discomfort.

The app manages the process, so if you agree, say, £5 for trading your seat, the person pays £5 plus a 10% commission and the trader gets £5.



Brilliant Idea #287. The On-Air App

homepage on airThis is a development of a previous, and very popular idea, Brilliant Idea #251. “The OnAir sign” for the home office.

This version is an app that uses GPS to notify people that you are “on-Air” and shouldn’t be disturbed.

You and the other people in or regular visits of your home that might disturb you have the app on their phones. If you go on a call, say on the phone or VoIP you press the On-Air button or if the call is on your mobile it does it automatically.

The app then figures out, using GPS whether anyone else on your notify list is near you. You can set the limit in meters. If they are, it sends their app a notification that you are On-Air (and then again that you have finished the call and are off-air).

It does that every minute that you are On-Air so for example, your partner comes home with grumpy kids whilst you’re On-Air it recognises when they (or to be precise, their phone running the app) gets near the house and sends an alert to the app.