Friday, July 31, 2009

Microwave Improvements

Looking at how current microwaves rotate the food so that it cooks more evenly, I thought of another way one can improve how microwaves cook. Taking a page from the trends of innovation, how about adding a 3-D mottled surface to the inside of the microwave? I certainly understand that the smooth surface on the inside of the microwave is practical for cleaning purposes, but why not have a 3-D mottled reflective surface covered by a smooth glass easily cleanable surface? The microwaves inside would bounce around in a more erratic, random fashion, and my theory is that it would cook foods more evenly. Sure, it's an incremental improvement, but it seems like something easy to attain.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Flexible bathroom scale

Here's another old idea that just came to mind. I was once thinking about TRIZ and the innovation trend where things go from rigid to flexible, and I applied it to bathroom scales. Current bathroom scales are firm and rigid so that the weight of an individual is fully transmitted to the measuring element (commonly some sort of spring mechanism). Unfortunately this also makes them bulky and difficult to stow away when not it use.

My idea for a flexible bathroom scale would basically turn a silicone mat into a bathroom scale. Within the mat, metal capacitor plates are embedded such that the plates are stacked vertically, and connected to a small capacitance meter. The idea is that as a user squishes the elastomer mat down, the distance between capacitor plates changes and thus the capacitance changes. This wouldn't be ueful if the measurement was taken at just one point, so of course, a matrix of these capacitors will populate the mat, and luckily we have convenient electrical engineering equations which tell us how capacitors in parallel should behave. Sum all the capacitance changes up, and the weight should then be easy to calculate.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

In-Store Product Reviews

Bryan Kennedy and I had this idea we half-pursued a few years ago (summer 2005), but we were ahead of our time, and we really had no protectable IP.

We called our idea reviewo, and it was basically a mobile application that would allow users to take online comparison shopping into the real world. The original idea was to allow users to use camera phones (that were becoming ever so ubiquitous) to receive online reviews of products they encounter in brick and mortar stores. If for example, I was at Barnes and Noble, and I see an interesting book on the shelves, I could simply snap a photo of the book's ISBN or barcode, send it to reviewo, and then receive a text message with a star rating and excerpts from the most helpful Amazon reviews. Cool right?

I think currently apps are being touted that allow people to buy things using their cell phone cameras, but I have still yet to see online comparison shopping done in this way.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Long-Distance Vibrator

This idea is for an industry not typically covered by my blog, the sex industry. Remember though, that this blog is really just for spouting ideas I have that I will not personally pursue, so it's entirely appropriate (even if the idea is not).

I was inspired when I saw a link to the OhMiBod, a vibrator accessory for the ipod, that vibrates to the sound of your music. While I'm not a woman and can't really say how I'd feel about such a product if I were, it made me think aout what might happen if I plugged an OhMiBod to a telephone. Could the sound of my voice activate and control the accessory for a would-be long-distance lover? Better yet, could I use the touch tones on my telephone to control the intensity of stimulation?

It seems like an easy hack, since dial tones are very commonly detectable. Perhaps this could be the start of Phone Sex 2.0.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Traffic Smoothing

So I read this post on digg a while back about how this one Seattle dude decided he would try to rid himself of the trouble of stopping and starting in stop and go traffic by traveling at a constant speed no matter how fast the cars around him were going. He was essentially trying to go at an "average" speed, letting a good length of space develop ahead of him as cars would speed ahead, only to meet those same cars a few moments later as they are inevitably stopped while he chugs along.

He noticed that while the traffic around him was stop and go, the cars behind him were traveling smoothly (since he was making the effort to travel smoothly). What an awesome idea!

I got to thinking how this would be great if everyone tried to do this in stop and go traffic. Smooth it out, travel a bit slower, and we'd be so much more efficient traveling in smooth, but slower traffic, with less hassle and frustration. How could we do this? The effort that this guy put in was his estimation of "average speed." He may be off and have to brake, and he'd have to adjust his estimation, and all this would take enormous concentration. How could we make this easier?

My idea is to post a sign on the freeway that simply indicates the average speed of traffic in the upcoming segment of freeway. While this would most often simply show the speed limit during times of free-flowing traffic, this would be critical information in stop-and-go. It would let me know what speed to aspire to, so that I wouldn't have to brake that often. It would smooth the traffic behind me, and with a number of people on the road doing as I am, hopefully we would smooth out the stop-and-go waves. Where would I source the information? Form FastTrak, of course, the same source as used by Yahoo Traffic maps, that show the speed of freeway traffic. FastTrak has sensors that don't take money from your account that just simply track the presence of your sensor. At regular distance intervals they record your sensor, and can calculate the average speed through the previous segment. Yahoo Traffic maps just take this data and splash it onto their maps feature. This makes an easy method for supplying information for the traffic smoothing speed signs!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Teddy Bear Name-Creator

Having read articles about artificial intelligence and computer face-recognition programs, when I was buying blaurb a stuffed koala at the San Diego Zoo today, an idea occurred to me. After looking at the construction and "cuteness" of a bunch of stuffed koala bears, we purchased on that we endearingly named "Snuggles." Trust me, it was fitting. My idea is for teddy-bear stores or Build-a-Bear Workshops have a teddy-bear naming service, where a computer analyzes the face of the bear and suggests appropriate names for it. I think it would give teddy bears a personal touch that adds to the whole experience, especially for Build-a-Bear.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Energy-Generating Gym Memberships

People toil in gyms every single day, expending energy that is essentially converted into heat that is not put to any good use. In fact, most gyms are air-conditioned in order to wick away all this heat to maintain a nice confortable temperature! This idea is to create gym equipment that functions to also generate electricity that can feed a power grid. Treadmills, bicycles, rowing machines, etc. seem to be pretty efficient machines to convert for energy generation.

Add this: membership fees would go down as energy-generation increases. Every member might have an energy card that tracks the amount of electricity that's generated by each individual member. The more the member visits and works out at a gym, the lower the membership fees. This makes sense because the member is essentially lowering the overhead costs of the gym, and perhaps the most loyal and hard-working individuals would benefit from free gym memberships!

Dynamic Speed Limits

Speed limit signs are so 1900s. Why are we all limited to the same speed? Traffic conditions, weather conditions, etc. all affect how fast we should drive in order to get to our destination fastest. Couple that with some concerns over fuel efficiency and the rise of intelligent vehicles (we hope), and we have a growing need for dynamic speed limits. What if the speed limit signs knew how the stop-lights ahead of you are synchronized so that it directs you to a speed to travel in order to "hit all the greens?" How about speed limits that know about traffic troubles ahead, and slow you down in order to smooth out the annoying and gas-guzzling nature of stop-and-go traffic? Perhaps when traffic is light, the speed limit will go up.

In any case, once we have intelligent cars, they'll be taking in this information anyways. Why don't we start building the infrastructure to allow intelligent humans to take advantage of this information?

Weather Toast

This is something I remember from way back in a BI brainstorm. How about a toaster that can toast the daily weather or news headlines onto your toast? Imagine some kind of laser engraving element in the toaster that could toast an image of a sun, cloud, or rain, or snow onto your toast to let you know how you should start your day. Naturally, this toaster would have to be networked in order to get it's data, but it would definitely integrate into the futuristic home nicely, I would think.