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Archive for May, 2010

The Curious Commuter – A hole in the wall…

Today’s idea is going to be short due do the fact that I am typing it on my Crackberry and I am exhausted, on a bus coming from an amazing, fantastical, fun-filled weekend in DC.

Here’s my thought as I stood in the Men’s restroom at the Natural History Museum – urinals are extremely inefficient and deceptively unsanitary in their design.

I apologize to my female readers but this is very much a problem only males face, unless the cleaning staff responsible for cleaning the men’s room is a woman – then you’d appreciate this idea.

Basically, a urinal is a slab of porcelain stuck on the wall with a little bit of a lip that catches the water and washes it down the drain.

Now fellas, if you are in an alley and need for some reason to relieve yourself or even in the woods on a camping trip – do you stand 6 inches or less away from the tree? Of course not, splash back would be an issue (thus the sanitary concerns) and really inefficient if its purpose is to keep your fluids away from you but don’t we do that at urinals?

So my idea, wouldn’t it make sense if urinals were more embedded into the wall? Almost if you took a paint bucket, tilted it, and made it a hole in the wall. No more splash back because it’s a hole instead of flat surface, and less cleaning because there would be much less splashing on the floor.

I imagine with this design cleaning would be easier and less water would be used. First, since it is IN the wall, the odor wouldn’t be out in the open. Second, there wouldn’t be a need for a ton of water for each flush because it is on a slant and gravity wouldn’t allow for much to remain behind. I bet water consumption could be reduced by half because of the sloped angle and the force of a river running down hill.

Seems cleaner, more efficient, and just makes more sense then ‘going’ against a flat surface that basically splashes back at you. Oh, and cost would be cheaper because you most likely wouldn’t make it out of porcelain but perhaps recycled plastic or other recycled materials.

That’s my idea for the day – who says it couldn’t happen?

Rock on,

Joe

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Categories: Ideas

Swipe, scan, satisfaction!

May 28, 2010 2 comments

Do you frequent a local coffee shop? Sandwich shop? Fast-food restaurant?

Do you order the same thing a particular way?

Have you ever been with someone out to lunch or dinner and they don’t even have to be asked what they would like, the server/restaurant knows exactly what the person wants and has it at the ready for their arrival?

This is often the treatment that famous people receive or perhaps your 75 year old grandfather who has ordered a stack of pancakes, black coffee, and 1 boiled egg at “Joe’s Cafe” every Sunday for the past 60 years.

What if that could be changed? What if you could be treated as a VIP? Or honestly, just a loyal customer?

Here is the idea – you know those key chain cards? The ones from Stop & Shop, Shaws, CVS, etc – what if those had more than just a barcode but instead were more like the miniature credit cards that came around briefly?

And here is the data that you could load up on there – Name, Date of Last Visit, Favorite Item, Item Ordered Most Frequently, the possibilities are endless so I’ll stop there.

So at the drive-thru, or in the restaurant (if they implement kiosks like the “Buy Your Ticket Here” stands in movie theaters) you just swipe your card, select your favorite item (which you can update online through the company specific portal) and then step drive up to the window to pay. Customer service goes even further because now the person working the window can do numerous “little” things to make you feel appreciated starting with calling you by name instead of by order number.

In the restaurant instead of waiting in line, you walk up to the kiosk – swipe your card, select your order, pay, and wait to pick it up.

This will do numerous things for these establishments. Here are a few off the top of my head:

– Increased customer recognition (Hi Joe! Welcome back, I see you are going with the Large Hazelnut today. Enjoy!)
– Increase customer satisfaction with order specifics (details can’t be lost in translation if it is already put into the computer essential by the customer – so no more “Wait you did say you wanted pickles with that correct?”)
– Sales data – Imagine being able to tell what your 18 – 24 year old segment of men/women are ordering and how often – hello marketing potential that is PERSONALIZED.
– VIP Status – if you have this service and your friend doesn’t, imagine their envy when they see you process your order in a matter of a minute then being welcomed by the server/clerk by first name. (See Hi My Name Is… for my thoughts on how much that could make a difference in society.)

And one final thought (this could be risky but beneficial) for the fast-food crowd, imagine if the nutritional stats were also shown online for you to see and realize that you are drinking a liquid meal at Starbucks. You may lose customers or your customers may demand you change your menu to be healthier. Either way, it leads to a healthier America. It would be a wake-up call that this country needs right now when it comes to nutrition and daily meal choices all thanks to a little key-chain and a computer.

That’s my idea for the day – who says it couldn’t happen?

Rock on,

Joe

Categories: Ideas

You can’t lose your finger.

Today is a quick and easy idea.

Ditch the car keys.

Ditch the key fob.

Your smart device/mobile phone can use its signal/app to unlock/lock, start, or “panic” your car. That replaces the key fob.

The keys do what? Unlock the door, and start the ignition. In newer cars, you don’t need a key – the key fob alerts the car you are there and you simply push the start button, this function can be replaced by your mobile phone/smart device.

Right but, if I lose my key fob that means anyone can steal my car. Ah ha! Welcome to the idea of the day, new security feature for your automobiles which are slowly becoming computers with wheels – finger print scanner. Laptops have then as logins, why not automobiles?

With technology today, I bet you could put a finger print scanner on the dash, next to the steering column – where you need to insert two fingers (a la Disney turnstiles) and the car from there can determine that it is indeed the owner of the car (or an authorized user) AND can tell if you have been drinking (using whatever technology it is that can tell when Lindsey Lohan has been drinking).

This way now you don’t have to worry about your keys…they are those things that are attached to the end of your arm and if you misplace those, chances are you wouldn’t be driving anywhere anyways.

That the idea for the day – who says it couldn’t happen?

Rock on,

Joe

Categories: Ideas

Hair, hair EVERYWHERE

May 26, 2010 1 comment

You know when this blog has taken on a life of its own when for 2 days in a row it has topped 21 views. Twenty-one, needless to say…I am psyched!

Ok so while I was getting my hair cut all nice for Memorial Day weekend in D.C. (which will undoubtedly be an awesome weekend) I noticed something about the floor…hair.

Hair. Lots and lots of hair. One of the stylists there actually commented that one other stylist was out today because she had slipped on a piece of wet hair and hurt her back. Sounds like a terrible workplace hazard to have to worry about slipping on the hair of the customer you just made look awesome.

Now barbers chairs are pretty standard pieces of equipment from the typical to something that looks like it came from IKEA. Not much innovation can really be brought to a barber chair, which doesn’t stop designers from making extravagant ones.

My question is, how hasn’t someone thought of making a chair that helps with the hair problem. This is a problem that has been around since the invention of cutting hair in a chair has existed. Back in the day, you cut the hair, it falls on the ground, the kid you pay $2 an hour would sweep it up, new customer sits down – repeat.

Now, I am not the first one to think of this problem – we all remember (even if we try to forget it) this travesty of creative thinking (surprisingly STILL around). Good idea, bad implementation.

Here is where Dyson vacuum cleaners could make even more money, why not make the bottom of the chair a vacuum?

Take the bottom of the chair and imagine the base of it can move up and down like a cymbal, this is the opening of the vacuum – 360 degrees around almost like a drain plug. The post/stool of the chair would be solid but it would be surrounded by a plastic cylinder just like a bag less vacuum! Have it controlled by a little remote control similar to one of those chair massage devices, and allow the customer to control! Now this is an interactive haircut, imagine how much easier it will be to control the 3 year old in the chair if they control the “mouth” of the chair, “eating up” the hair.

No more brooms, no more mess, customer interaction, and it just sounds cleaner than pushing around a pile of hair with a broom.

Simple, easy, and entertaining – sort of like this blog.

That’s my idea for the day – who says it couldn’t happen?

Rock on,

Joe

Categories: Ideas

What do we carry in our pockets?

Well at first we didn’t have them in our pockets because at first they looked like this:

File:Motorola2900BagPhone.JPG

Holy Bag Phone Batman!

Then a few years later Mr. Zack Morris opened our eyes to the “hand-held” mobile phone:

Kelly, can you hear me now?

Which slowly transformed into a “flip” phone:

It flips.

Then the phone that, for a short time, revolutionized the cellular phone world…the Motorola StarTAC:

Scotty...beam me up.

So on and so forth the models and types of cell phones ranged from “sliders”, “candy-bars”, text phones, pocket phones, micro-phones, etc. Eventually reaching what may be the¬†pinnacle of phone technology for the next few years:

iPhone...iDoItAll

And just to play fair:

I am Android...(shown on the HTC EVO 4G)

But this isn’t a blog about cell phones or the timeline/history/usage of them. This is an idea a day blog and cellular phones/smart devices play a key role in my idea for today.

You see, those last two examples are capable of things that the original cellular telephone never had in mind nor was ever designed for. The cellular telephone was for people stranded in cars and high profile politicos or finance moguls.

Nowadays, these devices are capable of well-just about everything aside from making you a cup of coffee (which with the right app and web-enabled coffee maker I’m not entirely sure that is a true statement anymore).

So here is the idea and GM is on to this with it’s OnStar service which alerts the authorities if you’ve been in a crash automatically, provides live GPS service (you actually talk to a person), and sometimes are just fun to talk to (I’ve done it, they are really nice!).

But wait, cars nowadays are almost as technologically advanced as the devices we carry in our pockets – alerting us if we are swaying into the other lane, if it senses us getting tired, and if we are about to rear-end the vehicle in front of us.

I digress…let’s get to the idea and it is not so far fetched albeit somewhat imaginable in a science fiction movie.

What if your smart mobile device replaced your dashboard in your vehicle. Well ok not the actually dashboard but perhaps it “docks” on your dashboard which is home to a larger screen (let’s say 7 or 10 inch screens to easy viewing) via micro USB which is now becoming the standard on phones.

The dock on the dash would accept all smart devices moving forward and of course, only the newest vehicles would have this feature due to the lack of backwards capabilities.

Now, both Android and iPhone have applications that can do the basics found on your typical dashboard – FM radio, GPS Navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, iTunes/MP3 music player, and web-connectivity for searches. When you get into your luxury car you are now forced with a choice; in-dash computer system or your smart device in your pocket that is ultimately more up to date and possibly faster…seems silly to have two of the same thing.

Now these applications of which hundreds, if not thousands, are programmed and born into the virtual world everyday could be sponsored by car manufacturers to control the other basic dashboard controls, mainly your HVAC and perhaps your seat position. When you think about, many of those things are already controlled by a computer chip and computer program anyhow, you are just taking the computer out of the engine bay and into your pocket.

So final thoughts – your mobile phone now controls you vehicle. You get into your vehicle, plug in your mobile device, the car awakens to your preferences (maybe even greets you like Jarvis from Iron Man), and you are on your merry way utilizing your applications to entertain you while in the car.

Your mobile device now becomes your car keys (there is already an application that will unlock your car if you have a specific security system linked to it) which means one less thing to carry in your pocket.

But…what happens if I lose my phone? Well, how do you lose something that for the majority of people in the population that has cellular technology around them, is the last thing you look at before you go to sleep, the first thing you look at when you wake up, and oddly enough the one thing that you play with even in your most private moments?

It’s just an idea – who says it couldn’t happen?

Rock on,

Joe

Categories: Ideas

Facebook 3.0

UStream + YouTube + Facebook = Facebook Live or Facebook 3.0

Here is my thought – Facebook is Web 2.0 for the most part. Any information in your profile is “live”, meaning if you click on the title of one of your favorite movies it searches Facebook for anything related to that movie. I suppose it’s useful but I don’t think anyone has ever really used the power of that feature (if it really does have any).

Continuing with the “favorite movies” portion of your profile – in Facebook Live (Facebook 3.0) – you would click on one of your favorite movies and it would link to YouTube to show clips and trailers of that movie. Even better, it would like to YouTube and a video of you saying why it is your favorite movie. Or(!) better yet, on your Facebook profile it just says “Favorite Movies” and when a visitor clicks on the link – it is again linked to YouTube where it shows you in a clip explaining all of your favorite movies and why they are your favorite.
This would bring the text to life and it would allow visitors to see exactly how much you really like Shawshank Redemption or perhaps Fight Club, since it seems as the majority of college students list those two movies in their profiles as favorites (that is, the majority of college student profiles I have seen).

Continue this function for the entire length of the profile review your favorite books, recite your favorite quotes, talk about your favorite tv shows, the possibilities are endless! Your Facebook profile almost becomes a virtual interview. For Facebook stalkers, or that cute classmate you just met in class and friended you before the end of the day – it becomes an impromptu coffee chat only you never have to leave your room!

Wait a minute, so all the small talk that would normally take place awkwardly in the dining hall or in line at registration would already be done and out of the way before I even met this person?! Well…in a way…yes! So now, instead of saying, “Hey do you like movies?” you can go right ahead and tell that cute classmate “Loved your review of Mean Girls! Poor LiLo is a mess these days though.” And have conversation go from there. Whether or not this is detrimental to the social development of the students or if this is perhaps beneficial to their development is a post for another time. I am just stating the idea of bringing Facebook to life.

So where does UStream come in? Well, Facebook right now has status updates – little quips of frustration, celebration, boredom and vagueness that, well, leave much to be desired.

What if with your camera-equipped mobile phone or laptop instead of typing out your status update – you recorded it?

Imagine, you are a high school senior and you just got into NYU. Would you rather run to Facebook and type on your status “OMG NYU CLASS OF 2014!!!” or would you rather have this posted (only it could be live and later archived on YouTube)?

Facebook Live a.k.a Facebook 3.0 – Listen up Mr. Zuckerberg (@finkd), you’ll thank me when you make your next billion.

That’s the idea of the day.

Rock on,

Joe

Categories: Ideas

Car Garden!

Imagine with me for a minute automobiles on the road that have extension cords coming out of their front bumpers and solar panels on their hoods, roofs and trunks. Perhaps even on their windows with some solar panels that are so thin that you wouldn’t really notice they were there/they wouldn’t hamper your vision. What would this be good for?

Check this out: http://www.wpunj.edu/news/detail.dot?id=158612 or if you don’t want to click and read about William Paterson University in New Jersey and their plans for a parking lot solar panel you can just get the visual below.

Sundurance Lot1

Personally, that’s hideous and does little to beautify a campus or a community. However, it is an interesting concept that I thought could be expanded and perhaps thought of in a different way (i.e. my car example above).

Instead of this stationary, enormous eye sores in the middle of a campus community why not have sleek, small, mobile solar panels moving about?

Transfer students’ cars into solar power generating machines. Follow me here – most college campuses have a plethora of cars parked for hours, days, sometimes weeks at a time. Not making the campus money, taking up space, and generally have zero productivity. Now, if those parking spots could be equipped with some sort of plug – I’m thinking of a guard rail that more or less looks like a ginormous surge protector. The vehicles are covered in solar panels, they are plugged into the e-guardrail, they are helping power the residence hall or administrative building they are parked closest to, they are CONTRIBUTING to the community to which they pollute on a part-time basis.

I don’t know about you but stationary solar panels don’t clean themselves, clear themselves of snow, or particularly look very nice. Vehicles students keep particularly clean, some look great, and how about the reputation of having a “green” commuter population on campus?

If you can make a solar panel a translucent film that actually protects the paint job on a car, then you have a selling point for people to participate and buy.

Park. Plug. Power. ¬†It’s a car garden growing power on your campus.

That’s my idea for the day.

Rock on,

Joe

P.S. less parking on campus = more green space but with solar-panel equipped cars -> more cars on campus = a “greener” campus.

Categories: Ideas