• Question: what is the best idea you have ever come up with?

    Asked by meganoe to Ant, Dan, Matt, Mike, Steph on 15 Mar 2012. This question was also asked by jk15.
    • Photo: Matt Maddock

      Matt Maddock answered on 15 Mar 2012:

      I once came up with an idea about having a car key with a wireless microchip in it so that it could talk to the car and send encoded passwords as well as being a mechanical key – then about a month later I saw an advert for a brand new Mercedes that boasted the same tech – I was gutted to have been beaten to it!

      I think most cars have them these days!

    • Photo: Dan Veal

      Dan Veal answered on 15 Mar 2012:

      I havent’ made any life changing discoveries, but have done some good things at work no one had thought of.

      For example, I use a camera and a laser to illuminate small reflective spheres. So it’s like a high-viz jacket, except a little sphere about 1cm in diameter coated with that bright stuff. When you shine a laser on it, it’s SUPER bright, much brighter than everything around it, and i can see it on my camera.

      You know how cameras usually are focused? A bad shot is one that’s fuzzy, or out of focus. However, i discovered if we purposefully blurred our images I could locate the centre of the bright sphere more accurately because it was spread over a wider area in the image. So i improved our measurement system by doings omething you would normally never want to do. Sometime you find these things by accident and they’re really good ideas.

    • Photo: Mike Salter

      Mike Salter answered on 16 Mar 2012:

      I don’t think I’ve even come up with some really good world-changing idea!

      Whilst on a project at university we needed to find some hollow plastic spheres that could easily split into two halves – I searched everywhere for them but couldn’t get any!

      Then I remembered I’d once seen some Christmas tree baubles in a craft shop that you could decorate yourself and fill with sweets – they were exactly what I needed! Unfortunately it was the middle of July so they weren’t in the shops, but I got some on the internet! They worked really well.

      The project was later featured on the BBC news website, and they mentioned my Christmas tree baubles! http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8402704.stm

      You can even see a photo of me in the article!

    • Photo: Anthony Hollingsworth

      Anthony Hollingsworth answered on 17 Mar 2012:

      tough question! i guess it was a new way of calibrating our instrument i had in a eurika moment whilst i was crashing a car. it worked really well 🙂 (calibrating is setting the scale of something, so for example you would calibrate a ruler by drawing on the cm markings)