Saturday, June 02, 2012

Until we have an intelligent or touch-sensitive windshield

Often the sun is too low for sun-flaps and too bright for sunglasses.  It gets particularly difficult when it is shining right behind a suspended street-light.

I've been in this situation several times, at a particular traffic light, about 7:30 in the morning.  I can't block the sun with the sun-flaps and still see when the traffic light turns green.  I end up sticking my fist out to block the sun.

An easy solution would be to have a disk of thin tinted plastic, about fist-sized--10 cm diameter--that can attach electrostatically to the windshield, with a small handle to pull it off and place it where it needs to go or store in a dashboard rack.

The ideal size and shape of the plastic could be worked out with user studies.  It would make sense to have the tinting stronger at the center, and fade out towards the edges.  It would also make sense to have an alternate shape that had a flat edge cut from the circle, not a half-circle, but cut it from a point about halfway from the center--this would be to line it up with a traffic light edge.

A more symmetric shape would work when the problem is just that the sun is very low and bright while you're driving.  It could get dangerous trying to drive with your fist stuck out, as I sometimes try to do, driving home around sunset.

Often the traffic report sites "solar" trouble as the cause of massive backups in the morning.  If everyone had these disks, we might get to work a little sooner.

A better and much more expensive solution would be to have the tinting built into the windshield.  You could touch the spot you wanted to darken.  You could touch it again to clear, or have a "clear-all" button on the dash.

A more advanced solution would be for the windshield to track the sun and the location of the driver's eyes, and adjust its tinting accordingly.

We need a half-sized rapid dishwasher

The current model of domestic dishwasher doesn't work for my family.

It sits, partly-filled, with rinsed and dirty dishes, while we wait for there to be enough to fill it and justify a full cycle.  We run out of spoons, or glasses.  Sometimes bowls.  We wash all the current dishes by hand, so the dishwasher never fills up.  We run the rinse cycle when there aren't enough dishes to justify that full cycle, then pull out the dishes and finish them by hand.  Or we get busy with other tasks by the time the rinse cycle is over, and the rinsed dishes sit in the dishwasher.  If we don't remember to open the dishwasher door, the rinsed dishes go through a warming phase that hardens leftover dirt.  The next day, the spouse who didn't run the rinse cycle thinks that the dishes are clean, and starts using the glasses from the top rack, which look clean from their rinsing, until one doesn't.

To avoid the half-filled problem, we wash a lot of dishes by hand.  Sometimes the best use of the automated dishwasher is that it gives us more rack space to dry the hand-washed dishes.

We don't need a "dry" cycle in a dishwasher.  Has anyone ever used the "plate warming" feature?

What we need is the restaurant-model dishwasher, a small version, to handle the plates from two or three people.  We should be able to place the unrinsed dishes in a simple rack, run a strong hot rinse cycle of less than a minute, a slightly soapy cycle, followed by another rinse.  Also have the option for just the quick, less than a minute, rinse.  We can finish what this doesn't clean by hand.

The cycle must be fast, so that we don't walk away and forget, and so that it is as convenient as washing the dishes by hand.

This would remove the problem of architecting placement of bowls, plates, pots etc to make most efficient use of the dishwasher and electricity.  It would prevent the fighting that goes on because of it.  Did you know that one-third of all divorces in this country stem from a disagreement as to how to load the dishwasher? (And thirty-seven percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.)

The goal of running as much as possible in one cycle would be relaxed.  We would relax.  And have clean dishes.