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'Tonight on the New Inventors, how infra-red energy can fix roads, before you put up scaffolding, a way to put up scaffolding in the world of bricks.' and a revolution

APPLAUSE G'day. I'm James O'Loghlin. who wants to save the world, Also tonight, a 15-year-old by an allergic wife. and an invention inspired yet flamboyant judges. First, our committed Chris Russell, They're agricultural scientist Professor Fiona Wood, surgeon and inventor

Christine Kininmonth. and inventor and journalist Welcome all. APPLAUSE fixing our roads? You know how much we spend every year Hundreds of millions of dollars. That's not building new roads, we already have, in good nick. that's just keeping the ones of repairing roads. So we need a new, cheaper way traffic is getting heavier, Our road networks are getting older,

cracking like this. and we're getting to repair them, 'When they dig up the roads

and expensive, it is noisy, it's time-consuming, and you need to replace the bitumen. to repair and recycle the asphalt. This invention uses infra-red heat

to create the infra-red heat, Because it uses standard LPG gas at any service station. you can fill it up

three-wheeler It's a quiet, self-propelled any location in need of repair. that's easy to manoeuvre into be easily moved to the side The rear wheels can to allow continuous work. to heat the asphalt, Then just turn on the infra-red to reach the right temperature. and wait eight minutes for it soft enough to rake, The asphalt is then and rejuvenate with oils. with a small amount of bitumen, You only need to top up to smooth and roll.' before it's ready

solution to an aging problem. This invention is a low-cost Kevin Witkowski. Please welcome from Adelaide, Hi, Kevin. How are you? APPLAUSE a big problem not just in Australia, This is a terrific thing, and but all over the world, isn't it? at a colossal amount Yes, roads are breaking up is increasing, because the road freight the passenger freight is increasing. plus weather equals stuff like, uh - And inevitably passengers plus roads Like this. Exactly like that. for a number of years - You've been working on this well, this is a model, obviously.

crack like that, you bring it over... And when you find a pothole or a so you...so you turn on the light. Well, it's night-time, isn't it, (LAUGHS) There we go - look at that. some of the design out of this. Yeah, well, very good. I'll take Yeah, good. it's got four segments, But underneath you can see which is energy-saving, isn't it? It is. It uses infra-red heat. you can just use a quarter of it. And if you've got a small segment, A big segment, all of it. It's about ten minutes? You heat it up for... but between five and ten minutes. Er, depending on the road, Yeah? Then we can turn that... And then it's all hot. It's sort of melty. Then you can sort of, uh... So you can rake it all together. That's right. of that is the same temperature Yeah, actually, the temperature arrived from the plant. asphalt originally to help it rejuvenate. OK. Then a bit of essential oils And then you add a bit more. Yes, the - What's missing, you just add to it, all the asphalt. cos what we wanna do is recycle

That's right. So, you add a bit more. either with hand or a... Smooth it over,

That's a steamroller. This is a steamroller. Yeah. Steamroller. that's not quite good as new, And, well, good as new - it would be good as new. but using your machine about 85% of the asphalt. Yeah, we recycle, so, we recycle Lovely! So, come over to the panel. and sell them to councils. Um, you're gonna try, obviously,

How much does each machine cost? would be returned Around $80,000, but the capital

within the 12-month period. in a year, OK. Uh, g'day, Chris. Right, you reckon you'd pay for it And, Kevin, what a terrific idea. Yeah, g'day, how you going, James?

you're looking at the road, In terms of the way that the road surfaces are not... Oils ain't oils, really. a lot of blue metal in them, You're looking at some with some with, you know, tar in them. you have to treat all these - Is there differences in the way heat the blue metal, for example?

that's got bitumen or asphalt in it. Yes, it will heat anything the tars? And what about the emissions off issued in Geneva in 2004. Erm, well, there was a report it doesn't matter what. You've gotta take some precautions, In this report, they said that, of health issues, "Look, we haven't found any incident let's wear some protective clothing. but to err on the side of caution, and even a mask." Let's wear some eye protection Fiona? in looking at all our roads. I was just really interested We know that damage is inevitable.

Can we use this kind of system before it starts to happen, to almost mend it and make it easier? just in the small cracks, That's exactly when we should start. What's happened to our roads... if you've driven around, If you've noticed,

around the roads, there's been marks spray-painted and those marks are even wearing out got the money to repair it. because they just haven't water gets in, traffic over it - And the process is there's a crack, Bigger, bigger - Gets bigger.

Breaks down, and voila. Pothole. Cos what will happen to repair more roads faster. is you'll have more money That's virtually what it is. in the innovation of it, Well, I'm interested innovative aspects of it, because I know there are infra-red repair systems around. but there are other the LPG part, the self-drive part, So, your innovations are the four heating elements part. Is that correct? The heating - are standard No, the heating elements of the road you're gonna repair. because you don't know how much is not all roads are flat, The biggest problem in roads and if you've seen some of the - That is a problem. If you go to Sydney streets, there are streets that are like that. If you move a 400kg machine around on a slopey... It's just hard to manage. So, one of your innovations is that this can do steeper gradients. Self-driven. Once you've got it onto the spot, you can actually stop it there, cos it's hydraulically stopped. OK, summing up. Chris?

Well, given the infra-red's not new, I think that the big difference here is the manoeuvrability and the scale of use, the ease of use. That might make the difference to councils suddenly taking it up, and I think that's the exciting thing about this invention. Fiona?

The concept of actually getting in front of ourselves instead of always chasing our tail, leaving the things to get massive potholes

so that, you know, I fall over on my bike. I'd much rather it be done when it was small. And if it's offering consistent results and it's manufactured in Australia, giving us Australian jobs manufacturing your machines, well, that's good.

Yeah, good on you, Kevin. Please thank Kevin Witkowski. Thank you very much. APPLAUSE Now, Kevin wants to save our roads, but here's a young man who wants to go one better and save the whole world. Hi. I'm David. I'm 15, and I invented the PC Standby Smart.

'I enjoy working with computers and computer parts. I'd love to save the environment and stop global warming, so if someone leaves a light on in the room, I always turn it off.' Jackie, you left the bathroom light on again! 'And I always felt guilty when I left my speakers and monitor on.' My invention turns computer accessories off automatically when I turn off the computer. 'This box plugs into the mains. You plug the computer in one side, and the speaker and monitors into the other. This cable goes inside the computer and detects if it is on or not. If you turn the computer off, it switches off any accessories with it.'

I did get my dad's friend, who is a qualified electrician, to help make sure that everything was connected properly

and it's all safe. I hope my invention can get around the world to help save a large percentage of greenhouse gases each year. APPLAUSE Isn't that wonderful? Isn't that wonderful? I hope he gets very rich, and saves the world.

Now, my friends, life is full of dilemmas. What type of bread to buy, whether to answer your phone when it says "private number", and this - when you're working at heights, you have to make where you're working safe, and you often can't make it safe until you get up there.

A scaffolder could be 5 or 50 metres up, but before he puts that handrail on, there's nothing to stop him falling. RUSSELL: 'Every day, hundreds of Australians risk their lives scaffolding. When you're scaffolding, you build one level, then move up to the next, so when you first climb up, there's no safety rail. Our invention is a safety barrier for scaffolders.' 'As soon as you build the first deck, you move the guard rail up through to the next. It hooks onto the inside of the upper bar, and onto the outside of the lower bar, and it's up on the next platform before you climb up. No matter which way you push, it won't fall off.' 'You move it up as you erect the scaffolding,

and down as you dismantle it.' Our invention is easy to install, and significantly reduces a potentially lethal hazard.

Please welcome from Queensland Myles Giess and Russell Hughes.

APPLAUSE G'day, Myles. G'day, James. Russell, how you going?

APPLAUSE Now, it was your idea, because you saw just a big, I suppose, hole in the whole safety thing, didn't you? True, yeah. There's no protection for the people erecting the scaffolding. Yeah, well, it's a dilemma, isn't it? You can't be safe until you're up there - until now! Myles, will you go up there, and - Sure. Put a hat on and show us how it works. Normally once it's in there, it's a one-person job, isn't it? It is, yeah. Yeah. And, well, just tell us what you're doing, Myles. Well, it's just a matter of lifting it up... Yeah? Locking in the two top brackets. Yep. And then the bottom two slide in and self-locate. And they're on opposite sides. Why is that? Just for the strength. Yep. And also it pushes in the frame that little bit over this way, which allows you to put your ledger in. Yep. Beautiful. Can you hop up and - Yeah, no dramas. Show us how you don't fall off? It'd be really good if you don't fall off. And also, just if you feel confident, apply a bit of force - and that's not going anywhere, is it? No, no. Lovely! All right, well, come down the traditional way, i.e. using your feet and hands,

and, Russell, how much are they gonna cost? Around about $190. Right, and I understand this is something, uh - come over to the panel, guys - this is something the industry's sort of been wrestling with a solution for for quite some time. Yeah, it has. Because you can't really build it until there's some parts built - like, unless you've got the uprights up, you can't put the horizontals in to protect yourself, so they've let scaffolders work on an unprotected edge for a long time.

They have brought in harnesses. Well, this'd be a lot quicker, I would imagine. A lot quicker and a lot safer because the harness doesn't actually stop you from falling. It arrests your fall when you do fall. Right. Uh, Fiona?

Hi, Russell, Myles, hi.

Russell, tell me, have you done any trials to make sure that this is gonna be used? For any solution, it has to be practical, it has to be user-friendly. People have got to say, "Oh, no, you must be kidding," or, "Yeah, great! I'd like to have a go at that."

First alternative is a harness, which people won't use. For a start, you've got to attach the harness to something, and if it's below your feet, what good's that? And the other one is they have been making them build in 1m increments to eliminate the problem, and it just drives the cost of scaffolding up. What about enhancing it in any way to make it better? You reckon you have. Yeah, exactly. You can't get any better than perfection. LAUGHTER Uh, Christine? Myles, I'm interested in the portability of it. It's much bigger than any of the components of the scaffold. It's no bigger than a work ute. You could fit it on a work ute quite easily. So, you're not ever thinking about making it collapsible so it itself breaks down into components?

Moving parts was one of the main issues that we didn't want to have,

because with moving parts, you know, they start to get broken, and as they get broken,

the effectiveness of the safety device is not as good. So, you know, we tried to eliminate all moving parts. You were pushing against that top guard rail, but if you were a really, really big guy and you threw yourself - He's a big guy! You're not gonna collapse the whole scaffolding, or do anything to bend or collapse the guard rail? We've done some testing with it, you know,

and we've had 175kg hanging on,

so I don't think there's too many scaffolders around that are bigger than 175kg.

(LAUGHS) Chris? Russell, you know, is there some way you could modify that so you can actually leave that up there on the top deck as the handrail? Then that would mean you wouldn't have to haul it up there again to pull it down. Well, it's not actually a handrail as such for that reason.

That's why we didn't even consider making it out of tube, cos then it would have been integrated into the scaffold. It's only up there for that instance when you climb up to build the scaffold, or when you're stripping it out, so you've got protection, and it travels up and down as they do it, and then they can remove it. All right, summing up. Fiona?

I think people would be shocked to know how many people are injured at work each year, and how many people die, so I think anything to raise that awareness and to really push forward with that safety message is fantastic. I think well done. Christine? And I agree with Fiona, and also say that you're in the enviable position which a lot of inventors don't get the luxury of,

and that is to have regulators on your side. So, they're pushing and pushing for something - yours might just be the quick and easy solution that the scaffolding companies are looking for. Chris? Well, my experience of scaffolding riggers is they're one of the last members of the human race to still believe in immortality, so I think this might be something that might allow them to achieve it. (LAUGHS) Good one. Please thank Myles Giess and Russell Hughes. APPLAUSE And here's a man who took up inventing because he loves his wife. MAN: 'Hi. My name is Jason Hood. I'm a panel beater. That's my wife - Fiona. We've been married for 18 years. Fiona is allergic to almost everything, so we keep the house spotless. We have a non-shedding dog. Even the kids are tidy. But in our bedroom, very close to where we sleep,

we found something that was collecting dust by the noseful. The valance! I knew Fiona would hate the bare ensemble. This is what I came up with. I call it the Bed Slip. It's held on top of the ensemble, letting it roll freely. The dust has nowhere to hide.

Fiona reckons it's excellent, and if she's happy, I'm happy.' APPLAUSE "If she's happy, I'm happy." That's the sort of spouse I aspire to be. LAUGHTER One day, darling, I will be. (LAUGHS) You know, these days we don't just think about how much things cost, we also have to think about how much energy we use up in making them. Over the next few decades, we're going to have to try to make pretty much everything using less energy, including bricks. MAN: 'We all love a brick home, and for good reason. They look good and have great thermal mass, so it's easier to have an energy-efficient home.' But making bricks is not so energy-efficient. Making these traditional kiln-fired bricks produces a million tonne of greenhouses gases every year. 'My invention is a new way of making bricks without the need to fire them in a kiln, and most importantly,

without compromising on the strength, quality and aesthetic appeal of traditional bricks. My brick is made by adding eco-cement to clay and gravel. The composite mix is then fed into a brick press, and then air-dried to produce a strong, durable and attractive brick.' My invention is a brick with a low carbon footprint... BRICK CLUNKS ..that lays a solid foundation for brick manufacture in the future. Please welcome from Bealiba, near Bendigo, Rory Stainton. APPLAUSE G'day, Rory. Hi, James. How you going? I'm going good. You've been making bricks without firing up kilns for a long time now. That's right, yep. Why do you like 'em? Well, because they have a low impact on the environment. Well, up there we've got a traditional kiln-fired brick, here are yours, made by a press, and two balloons. It's not the bricks' birthday. What it is, though, is a representation of the amount of carbon dioxide produced by each process.

So, your brick produces about what percentage of - Around about 20% of the CO2 emissions that's used - OK, well, one-fifth. One-fifth. OK, and then in terms of the water required to make each brick, the traditional and your brick, again, about... About half. About half the amount of water. So, it's obviously kinder to the environment, and also in there - what's in there? Well, this is slag.

Because we use an eco-blend cement, it's about 30% slag. Now, where do you get... What's slag? Slag is a by-product of the iron industry. OK, so, it's normally a waste product, just chucked away. A waste product that goes into landfills. And because you're using it, it means you need to use less resources made specifically for your bricks. You're re-using stuff. That's right. We're recycling slag, and using a much less... Producing much less CO2 emissions in the production of the brick. OK, fantastic. Now, come across to the panel. And you're sort of in the range of what traditional bricks cost, right? That's right, yeah. And so I guess you're expecting people to buy them not because you're gonna say they're better or they're cheaper, just because you think, well, if you've got a choice, why not buy the one that uses less resources? It's more the discerning buyer. Lovely! Um, Christine? Yeah, hi, Rory. Welcome to the show. Thank you. My parents built a mud brick house 20 years ago. It's been an absolutely wonderful house, and beautiful thermal properties. What are the thermal properties of this brick? Well, this brick's designed, really, for external walls to build an ordinary, garden-variety brick veneer-type house. If you use them internally, they have better thermal mass. They will hold their heat for longer, and they're cool for longer. Not as good as natural earth bricks, because they are cement-stabilised. There are other bricks with recycled components, and also recycled bricks - you can use a brick again. Is yours, though, the only one that's non-fired? Is it the only non-fired brick? Oh, no, there are cement-stabilised bricks on the market,

but they can't compete into the huge kiln-fired brick market because they don't look like one. People want the kiln-fired brick because they have the smooth finish, they're neat, yet the cement-stabilised brick has sort of a rougher finish. Chris? Rory, the Building Code of Australia lays down all sorts of standards for resilience to weathering and earthquakes and all that sort of thing. Do your bricks meet all those requirements of the building code? There is actually no set standard for a brick. There's a set standard for testing bricks. What happens is the architects and the engineers will specify a brick has to be of a certain strength or has a certain water-resistance, and so on, so the bricks have to come up to that mark. And do yours? Yes, they do, yeah. When you build a house, you want it to stay standing for a long period of time. Is there any way of telling - accelerating the testing regime around your bricks - so you know that when you build your house, you know, in 2009, in 20 years' time, it'll still be standing

and those bricks will still be solid? I've had bricks made and tested for the last 15 years sitting out in the weather and the rain, and they've stood the test of time and haven't weathered at all, they haven't discoloured. And that's another thing - these have no oxides.

These are natural colours, so they don't fade. Like, with concrete bricks, they use oxides,

and over time, they do tend to fade. Summing up. Christine?

Well, I mean, I love the colour of it. If that's the natural colour, it's a bit like, you know, the house that Mum and Dad built, just that beautiful, warm colour, and I mean, that's a joy to live in. That's right. And the reduction in energy use and the emissions, you know, that makes this definitely a should-do type invention. It's just it's a very competitive business, though, so I'm gonna be very interested to see in a couple of years, see how you've gone and whatever happened to you.

Yeah, all right. Exactly, I'd be really interested to see how you can scale up so you can actually really lift that production of these bricks to meet the market, because there's certainly a big market out there. Yeah, there is. It's a huge market. We've been reading Famous Five books, and they always say, "Rory, you're a brick," and that's a good thing! Please thank Rory Stainton. Thank you very much, Rory. Thank you! Good on you! APPLAUSE So, who will win tonight and get this to keep forever and ever and ever? Which one would you pick? Well, our judges' choice could be named the Inventor of the Year.

Will it be the pothole-heating, melting and fixing Irma, the scaffolding you put up before you get up there, the Height Guard,

or the new brick with a small carbon footprint, the Geobrick? Let's look first at originality. Chris, which is the most original?

Yeah, well, I think for originality, James, for me tonight, I would probably say Height Guard, because, you know, everything about that is original. It's clear that is the most original. Yeah, absolutely. Well, that was easy. (ALL LAUGH) I mean, the thing about a lot of inventions we see here,

and I think a good example of that is Irma,

is that that's taken someone else's idea, that is, the infra-red idea, but they've added some very original elements -

its manoeuvrability, the fact that it's small, so it means that councils, instead of saying, "Oh, I could never use that huge machine cos, you know, I don't have huge roads," they can suddenly say, "This is now in the ball park for me." So, then that gets us to the design aspects of it, doesn't it? And so putting the design elements around it that makes it, really, something that people wanna get, use, and want to actually integrate into their practices. So, that's a good design. Yeah, while the design is rather spunky of the Height Guard -

Yes. It's neat and it's all one component. They did think about making it, you know, break it down, but the fact they've now got it in a very smart, neat style, I think it's a great design as well. I think for design, the winner for me was Irma. The way he's used three points of travel and the small shape and so on to overcome the issues of being a monster machine that can't go anywhere,

that's well thought through. I thought on need, the Geobrick is really edging up there,

because I think we do need better eco-designed products, and if everybody's building brick veneer houses, it would be lovely to have an offering of a brick that has a smaller carbon footprint.

The problem I have is what is the decision that the brickie or the owner-builder makes when they're buying a brick, because is it necessarily going to be this greener footprint,

or is it going to be cost, and you know, where the brickie sources his bricks because he has some in on the brick source. And then it comes to how are you gonna market that, and actually what are the things that would be very simple,

potentially, is if it was just and you could scale up in a way that made it slightly cheaper, then you've got a real flag. You are little you, up against the great big companies. You make yours a little bit cheaper, they'll make theirs a little bit cheaper - in fact, a lot cheaper. Marketability - I think the Geobrick has got a huge potential if he can really tap in on this whole pressure now we've got to try and resolve these carbon emission issues. I would certainly jump in on those architects wanting to build five-star green rating buildings. And I think Fiona hit the nail on the head when she said if you can go in prophylactically

and run this thing over the top of a road which normally you'd say,

"It's not bad enough yet to dig up and replace it," but this thing just more or less melts it all back together - That keeps the road going so, yeah, you don't have to do major repairs. Yeah, absolutely. All right, well, it's time to pick a winner. Erm, Chris? Yeah, always gets to that stage. It does, it does. Three really interesting inventions tonight. I'm gonna choose Height Guard tonight. I think it's a winner on originality for me, and I think it's definitely a winner on safety, which is one of our criteria, and I think it's also a winner on marketability. Well, I'm gonna disagree - I absolutely love Height Guard,

I think it's a very close show,

but I think there is another thing out there, and that is the opportunity to get this Geobrick perfected,

and to come up with something here. I mean, he's on the path, I don't know whether it's perfected yet, but boy, oh, boy, if he could hold hands with those people with Irma, the infra-red technology, and get regulatory backing,

and get legislation saying that this Geobrick is the one that we have to use, he's on such a winner. Oh, but that's gonna take a long, long time, and for me - I mean, OK, I can appreciate, you know, the issues of global warming, etc, but you know, one life saved - I'd go with the Height Guard. Then our winner is Myles Giess, Russell Hughes and their Height Guard.

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE Very well done!

Good on you, Russell. You can share it. Well, they're in the running to be named our Inventors of the Year. There's also the People's Choice award

that will go to the invention that receives the most of your votes. So, text '1' for the Irma, '2' for the Height Guard, or '3' for the Geobrick to - Thanks to our judges. Well done. APPLAUSE Big round of applause for our four inventors tonight.

Thank you, guys.

And finally the quote from Dr Seuss,

who said, "Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple." Goodnight. Well done, mate. APPLAUSE 'Our next special episode will feature inventors under 18 only. That's right - the kids are taking over. So, if you're under 18 with an idea,

now's the time to do something about it. Enter as a Bright Spark, and I might see you in studio, or on TV,

so you can show the whole of Australia what you've invented.' Closed Captions by CSI *

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