Tom Walma


Staircase House

Business, InventionTom WalmaComment

A typical house is full of wasted space.  There is a lot of wasted horizontal space, such as hallways and staircases, and even unnecessary walls.  There is also a lot of wasted vertical space, because if you think about it, when you walk through a room, you only walk in specific paths, usually in the middle of the room, so the ceiling doesn't need to be as high in many sections of the room, primarily the corners. 

The idea of the staircase house is to reduce wasted space.  It would scatter sets of 1, 2, or 3 stairs throughout the house, and have the house spiral around to enable it to have multiple stories.  It wouldn't be a gradual spiral, it would have some places with several stairs close together and other large flat areas.  The bulk of the house would be one large room, with sections for kitchens, etc.  There would be no hallways.  The ceiling would be of variable height, and with clever design, would fit 3 stories in the vertical space of 2 stories, without feeling cramped.

Appliances, drawers, etc. could be placed up on a "stair" so you don't ever have to bend down to reach anything, such as the bottom of the fridge, for example.

The stairs would all be the same height, and would be made out of snap-in pieces, which would utilize space cleverly.  For example, stairs may slide open like drawers or open up vertically for storage like a storage chest.  Some stairs may open up into theatre type chairs, so you could have a mini theatre in the middle of a room where there is normally walking space, for example.  There could be couches that mount onto stairs so the bottom backside of the couch is empty space, thus reducing the size and weight of the couch.

The house would have less open air space, thus the heating bills would be less.

You could have really clever things to save space, such as:

  • Pool table with bed on top where the bed is raised to the ceiling above the pool table when the bed is not in use, and maybe even the pool table opens up into a mini laundry room
  • Flat-panel TV and mirror that both slide out of wall in front of large window, so either the mirror, TV, or window is visible.  Could also have a slide-out whiteboard

I also like the idea of a walk-on roof with walls that extend up a few feet above the roof for privacy.  This probably wouldn't be a core feature of the house, but maybe the house is constructed to allow this to be easily added later.

MC Squared

Invention, Web Site/App, BusinessTom WalmaComment

Einstein rocked the world of physics with the theory of relativity.  Now its time to use relativity to rock the music world.

If you rate your music by giving it a fixed value as a rating (such as 9/10), you run into some problems.  You may sit there trying to figure out which rating to give, i.e. is it a 8/10 or a 9/10.  Also, if you have 1000 songs rated as 9/10, and you want to decide what to listen to, how helpful is the rating?  And if the quality of music changes over the years, you may go back and find that all of the 8/10s you gave recently are better than the 8/10s you gave years ago, or vice-versa.

The solution is to abandon the approach of giving a rating a fixed value, and instead rate songs based on relative quality to other songs.  It may be hard to figure out whether to give a song an 8/10 or 9/10, but it is very easy to figure out of the song you are listening to is better, worse, or about the same quality as the song you just listened to.  In time, after rating songs in this fashion, the good songs will rise to the top.  You won't have to worry about deciding which of 1000 songs rated 9/10 are better.  You don't have to worry about your ratings drifting over time.

Car Terrorizer

InventionTom WalmaComment

There are certain types of sports cars and other vehicles where you feel like you are going dangerously fast, where if you were going the same speed in a normal car, it wouldn't feel fast at all.

There is a concept with a name that I'm too lazy to look up, where if you make a car safer, people subconsciously drive more reckless because they think they can get away with it.  Because of this concept, a lot of safety features such as air bags seem to cause almost no reduction in traffic deaths, or a much lower reduction in traffic deaths than was predicted.

Anyway, if your car detected dangerous driving conditions, and very subtly adjusted itself to make you feel like you were driving faster than you actually were (by making the wind sound louder or adjusting the shocks or something), it could make people drive safer without even knowing it.  But if it wasn't subtle enough and people realized when the car was doing it, it would ruin it due to the concept mentioned in the previous paragraph

Dental Inspection Kiosk

Invention, BusinessTom WalmaComment

I think the dentist is a ripoff.  For the dental cleaning, I already floss my teeth and use mouthwash once every 6 months.  I could easily use the gooey stuff that they put in the mouthguard, and if I need to suck the saliva out of my mouth, I'm sure they could make a vacuum cleaner attachment for that.  I could use the metal gum-scrapey thing for the front of my teeth, and have a girlfriend do the back of my teeth where I can't see.  And if I didn't have a girlfriend at the time, I could pay a hooker to do it.  It would still be cheaper than going to the dentist.  Although it might be a bad idea to have a hooker's hands in your mouth when your gums are bleeding.   

And they could have a dental inspection kiosk at the grocery store to inspect your teeth.  That machine could take both photos and x-rays of your teeth, and those little pieces of paper that you have to bite down on to take the x-rays could be sold in vending machines.  Software could analyze the results within a few seconds, and maybe inconclusive results could be emailed to real dentists in India or somewhere cheap within a few minutes, kind of like a tech support call, but to a dentist instead of a computer guy.

Since I have shown that a person, maybe with the help of a friend, can handle the once-per-6-months dental cleaning, and the dental inspection kiosk can handle the dental inspection, you would only have to go to the dentist if you actually had a cavity or a painful tooth or something.

Refrigerator Environmental Heat Tunnel

Invention, EnvironmentalismTom WalmaComment

I live in Michigan, where it's cold in the winter.  I always found it ridiculous to have a refrigerator in the middle of a house in the winter.  You have to pay to heat the area within your house, then you have to pay again to cool a smaller area inside the house, i.e. the refrigerator.  If you just set the refrigerator outside or in the garage, it could pretty much sit idle at the outside temperature, not costing much of anything to keep cool.  But I'm too lazy to haul my refrigerator in and out every year, risking personal injury and possibly scuffing up the floor.  Plus the neighbors might find it a little suspicious if they were looking in my window.

My idea is to have a "tunnel" leading from the kitchen to the outside of a house (or into a non-heated garage) that is of the same depth as a refrigerator and an inch or two wider and taller than a refrigerator.  The fridge will be placed in the tunnel.  On the outside of the tunnel, behind the fridge, there would be a wall that could be opened and closed electronically.  On the very inside of the tunnel, just behind the refrigerator door, there would be airtight seals on the sides and top of the fridge that can open or close electronically.

When its something like 10 degrees colder outside the house than inside the house (i.e. winter), the wall behind the fridge would open and the seals around the front of the fridge would close, so the fridge is surrounded by the cold outdoor air.  When its something like 10 degrees warmer outside the house than inside the house (i.e. summer), the wall behind the fridge would close and the seals around the front of the fridge would open, so the fridge is surrounded by the cooler indoor air.

Since the fridge is always surrounded by the cooler air (either outside air or inside air, depending on the season), it will cost less to run.

Note that the door behind the fridge and the seals around the front of the fridge could be manually opened and closed if desired instead of being electronic.

The tunnel would probably contain some sort of physical barriers to prevent criminals from just pushing the fridge out of the way and using the tunnel as a way to break into a house.

Come to think of it, if you are sick of Jehovah Witnesses coming to your front door, you could just convert your front door into a refrigerator tunnel, especially if you have an attached garage and rarely use the front door anyway.

Surround Sound Drones

InventionTom WalmaComment

The idea here is that you won't have to mount speakers to your walls for surround sound, which might not be optimal based on where you decide to sit in the room.  Instead, you attach each of the speakers (except maybe the subwoofer) to drones and then position them wherever you want so they are at the optical location and face the optimal direction every time.  Also, they become portable, so you can take the surround sound wherever you go.

Also note that you only use surround sound speakers for the duration of the movie or maybe 3 or 4 hours for a party, which is probably feasible for the battery life of a drone

These drones with speakers on them could also be used in the dark to scare people into thinking that a house is haunted.

Drug Disposal Drones

Invention, BusinessTom Walma1 Comment

The idea is that if you have a small personal supply of illegal drugs in your car and you got pulled over, you would attach them to a drone which is the size of a toy helicopter and fly it outside of the driver's side window before the cop gets out of his car.  It will be programmed to drop the drugs into the nearest body of water or in the top of a tree or something far away where the cop won't be able to find it.  Or to my house.

Dancing Drones

InventionTom WalmaComment

The idea is to have a bunch of tiny, insect-sized drones controlled by a computer that would fly around you and buzz, and you would be instructed to swat at them whenever you notice them, and the drones would fly in such a pattern that swatting at them will look like dancing and will be in rhythm with the song that's playing.

Cloud Sculpting Drones

Invention, ArtTom WalmaComment

Everyone at some point in time has looked up at the clouds and noticed a cloud that kind of looked like a face or a lion or Jesus with a chainsaw or something like that.  There should be a fleet of computer controlled drones that contain smoke machines or condensed hot air or something, so they can fly up to the cloud and shape it to very accurately look like an object.

I'm thinking that they probably wouldn't be able to contain enough smoke or cloud-forming materials to create a cloud from scratch, but they could take a cloud that already kind of looks like something and tweak it around the edges to make it unmistakably look like something.

This could also maybe be able to make a shape out of a cloud created by exploding fireworks, and you would see the cloud illuminated in color by subsequent fireworks

Gas Pumping Heater

InventionTom WalmaComment

I was freezing cold pumping gas today at a ridiculously slow gas pump.  It got me to thinking, why can't my car have a vent near my gas cap that blows heat or air conditioning out of the car onto me when I'm pumping gas? 

If people will pay for an automatic car starter so they don't have to scrape their windshields and then get in a cold car, why wouldn't they also pay for the convenience of not having to freeze to death when pumping gas?  I'd pay at least $100 for it.  And if there is a slight chance it will ignite the fuel and cause my car to explode, I'd risk it.

Fuel Drone

InventionTom WalmaComment

Some military planes have a "fueling plane", allowing them to get gas while they are flying.  There should be "fuel drones" that suction cup themselves to the side of your car when you are driving down the highway, then open your gas cap, fuel your car, and then fly away.

They could also work in reverse to siphon gas from a moving vehicle, which would basically turn them into giant robotic car mosquitos.

Magnetic Game Room

InventionTom WalmaComment

I was thinking about how to create the ultimate video game experience.  People always talk about wiring something into your brain so you remain motionless (like in the movie "The Matrix") but get the sensations of living in the video game.  I don't like that approach because

  1. It's a long way in the future
  2. Your body is left to atrophy while you are motionless, unless technology has solved that problem
  3. I think that for self-esteem reasons people will always want to compete and succeed in the physical world

The current approach to creating the ultimate video game experience seems to be using a virtual reality (VR) headset and an omnidirectional treadmill.  Virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift let you look in all directions.  "Omnidirectional treadmills", which are like a regular treadmill but allow you to run in any direction.  I have seen an omnidirectional treadmill where you wear slippery booties and you slide like you are running on ice, and there is a bar at waist-level that keeps you in place.  This treadmill allows you to run, but doesn't let you do more complex motions like bending over.  It also doesn't provide feedback, i.e. if you run into a wall in the video game, the omnidirectional treadmill won't stop your legs from running.

I have a different approach, which is somewhat less practical and affordable than the VR headset approach but possible with current technology.  My idea is to have a small room with powerful magnets in the walls and under the floor, wear a magnetic suit and electromagnetic boots, have video projector(s) mounted on the ceiling to show video on all of the walls, and have a slippery floor just like the omnidirectional treadmill.

The magnets in the walls would constantly push you toward the center of the room since you are wearing a magnetic suit, allowing you to run in any direction without the restriction of having to stand straight up like the omnidirectional treadmill previously mentioned.  The magnets in the walls would have a constant magnetic charge which would push you toward the center of the room, and would require no electricity.  On top of that, the walls would also have electromagnets to push you or hit you with a pulse based on the activity of the game. 

The electromagnets in the floor and in your boots would 1) stick your foot to the ground to prevent it from sliding to simulate running into a wall or barrier 2) cushion your fall to keep you from hurting yourself in real life, allowing you to attempt flips and other fun stuff 3) push you up with so much force that you can fly

The electromagnets in the walls and the floor may be able to send targeted magnetic pulses to a very specific location (like a laser does), thus allowing them to manipulate electromagnetic game props, such as causing a gun that you are holding to shake when you press the trigger or throwing an electromagnetic ball at you.

The magnetic game room would either come in a self-contained shed-sized building, or it would be installable in a normal garage, where a circular wall would be split into 3 sections, one of which would be attached to the floor and the other 2 can slide or roll into place and be stored against the section which is attached to the floor.  The slippery surface of the floor would be able to be folded up or rolled up to allow room to park your car.  The electromagnets in the floor would probably have to be built into the garage floor, thus requiring you to cut out a chunk of the concrete floor to install them, and they could be driven on.  The game room could also be installed in a house similar to the way it is installed in a garage, except the ceiling would have to be fairly high so you don't smack the ceiling with your arms when you lift them up and jump.


Cauliflower Ear Mold

InventionTom WalmaComment

People are always looking for new ways to express themselves via body modifications, such as tattoos, piercings, etc.  I have come up with a totally new form of body modification.

When boxers and fighters get punched in the ear, blood gets inside the ear and hardens, causing the ear to be permanently swollen and disfigured, resembling a cauliflower.  My idea is to intentionally injure someone's ear to give them cauliflower ear, but before it hardens, attach a cookie cutter mold to the ear so that it hardens into a specific shape, such as a heart or a smiley face.

Greenland Nuclear Snow Machine

Invention, EnvironmentalismTom WalmaComment

Because of global warming, the oceans are expected to rise.  A large part of this is due to ice which is sitting on land in Greenland and Antarctica falling into the ocean. 

My idea is to put a row of nuclear power plants on the coast of Greenland which will double as giant "snow machines" which, when the weather is cold enough, will shoot water from the ocean into the air so it will fall as snow over Greenland.  This will not keep the world from warming, but it will keep the sea from rising.

A nuclear power plant basically just uses steam to turn a giant turbine connected to a generator.  To double as a "snow machine", it would have to be adjustable to sometimes (i.e the right season and weather conditions) connect to a giant water pump instead.  I'm picturing that it would pump the water up a giant tube about the height of a large skyscraper, where the skyscraper is maybe a mile offshore, so the salt in the water falls back into the ocean.  Alternately, some of them could pump water from fresh water inland rivers where salt wouldn't be an issue.

The power from the nuclear power plants would be sent to both the US and Europe via giant underwater cables (is this possible?).  The upside to this is that the nuclear power plants will be located far away from people, so the normal political opposition to building them would not be an issue.

Reverse Pacemaker

InventionTom WalmaComment

I was watching a documentary about a woman who survived without breathing for like a half hour after falling in an icy river, and then was pulled out and survived without any permanent damage.  It turns out that if the body temperature is cooled below like 70 degrees Fahrenheit (i.e. not very cold), the blood vessels and brain cells and shit take much longer to die, on the order of an hour instead of just minutes at the normal body temperature.

So my idea is to create an implanted medical device that detects when your heart stops and, instead of shocking your heart to start it again like a pacemaker, it cools your body to the temperature where the blood vessels die much slower, giving you up to an hour to be rescued instead of only a couple minutes.

It has a blood pump, a cooling mechanism (practicality not established), and a cellular communication device.  It will alert 911 when it detects that your heart stops, and will not start pumping and cooling the body until it gets confirmation from 911 that the alert was received.

The idea would be to implant this device in anyone with a life threatening medical condition and above a certain age, and it would virtually eliminate death due to not getting to the hospital in time.  According to, 20% of people don't die in the hospital, and "most people" who make it to the hospital arrive too late to get the most benefit possible from hospital services.