I think of new ideas for products I want to own or use and having too little time to develop these ideas into viable business opportunities have decided to share them in the hope that you will find and pursue them or simply enjoy riding out my brainstorm.
All the products are my innovations that I thought of at one time or another. Feel free to discuss, improve on, comment, pursue, or make anything here - and if you succeed, remember me.
Call CC is a new product idea that was born when my colleague at work was reprimanded by our boss that he’d like to be CCed on all correspondence with a certain client. My colleague mentioned the fact that the recent correspondence was on the phone and not e-mail so as much as she’d like to have CCed him, it wasn’t possible. And crack! A new idea is hatched.
Product Innovation - Using Call CC
Call CC would be an app that would need to be installed on your smart phone and possibly on the receiver’s and CCed people’s smart phones. If Call CC is only installed on your phone, when making a phone call through the Call CC app, you would be able to CC additional contacts in your phone. The person receiving the phone call would be notified that the incoming call has additional people CCed on it and that person would be able to choose whether to answer the call or not. If the person answers, at the end of the conversation, the people who were CCed would be notified via SMS or e-mail of the following:
That person X called person Y
The time of the call
The duration of the call
All the CCed people on the call
If Call CC is installed on your phone and on the CCed people’s phones, when making a phone call through the Call CC app, the CCed people would receive an incoming phone call that would state that they are being CCed on a call from you to the person you are calling. These CCed people would be able to accept the CCed phone call and listen to the conversation (and perhaps even take part). The person who you called would be notified that the incoming call has additional people CCed on it and that they will be participating in the phone call (similar to a conference call). That person would be able to choose whether to answer the call or not. If the person answers, at the end of the conversation, the people who were CCed would be notified via SMS of the same information as before, with the addition of a list of the CCed people who participated or listened in on the phone call.
Call CC could also be developed to provide a transcript or recording of the phone call to the people CCed, to work with Skype, or with regular phones. In my opinion, BCC should also be included, on the condition that the person receiving the phone call is informed that people are BCCed on the phone call. This way, even though the identities of the BCCed people are not provided, the person receiving the call would be able to make a decision on whether or not to answer the phone knowing that some people (who are unknown to the receiver) may be listening to the call.
In today’s hi-speed, hi-tech, ultra-transparent business world, Call CC would provide a valuable time-saving resource for millions of people. Call CC is a new idea that could reinvent how we communicate with each other in the business world and would increase the faith our managers have in our competence. It would also enable our managers to constantly be in the loop on our projects and save us having to constantly provide tedious status reports. The business advantages offered to the telemarketing world are beyond reckoning.
Frankly, since there’s not much difference to the CC and BCC functionality on e-mails, you may be wondering about the actual product innovation of this idea. Well, it’s in the way that Call CC applies one tried and tested method to a different medium, that of verbal communication rather than written communication.
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When I’m working, I hate having to slow down to wait for my computer to do things or to transfer files from one computer to another. I just don’t understand how in this day and age, computers and their peripherals aren’t more efficient! As it happens I work from a laptop and a desktop. The desktop is connected to the office network and the laptop isn’t. All I want to be able to do is to use one mouse to work on my computers – I want to be able to copy a file from my desktop and paste it to my laptop. When working from one computer, this is accomplished via the clipboard.
So what do Mighty Mouse, Speedy Gonzales, Mickey Mouse and Jerry have in common? They’re all super mice that do special things. So with such obvious role models, why is the common PC mouse so dull?
Super Mouse is a new idea for a Bluetooth mouse with its own clipboard. The clipboard can even be removable (USB memory stick) and able to store everything you copy to it for later use. Super Mouse also enables using your own memory stick which has information already on it for use as you see fit in your workspace. Super Mouse is basically a Bluetooth mouse that requests permission to pair with multiple components (e.g., a computer, a laptop, and a smartphone). For more information about Bluetooth technology limitations, such as transfer rates, maximum connections, and so on, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetooth. After the pairing, moving from one component to another can be achieved either by moving the mouse off one screen and onto another, or by clicking both buttons together and moving the mouse downwards. Although there are similar solutions out there that enable you to share a mouse cursor across different computers in your workspace (e.g., http://synergy-foss.org/), Super Mouse lets you truly take control of your workspace and save valuable time.
Since Super Mouse is based on existing technologies, it shouldn’t be too expensive to manufacture. Also, since mice are already common PC peripherals, finding outlets to market Super Mouse will be a breeze. In my opinion, the Super Mouse is the embodiment of product innovation – a new idea for one of the most common products in the market.
Ever wondered how far away that mountain is from you, or that building, or what the distance is between you and that tree, or that car in front of you? With Measure Mate, your speculations need no longer lead you astray. This new idea, based on a new product, takes the form of an app for future smart phones with 3D cameras. It’s only a matter of time before smart phones are equipped with 3D camera (2 lenses) functionality and that’s when this new app idea gains credence. Measure Mate is a distance measuring app, based on triangulation calculations, rather than echo or laser techniques. Triangulation means calculating all the sides and angles in a network of triangles based on the length of at least one side of a triangle. Therefore, the precise measurement of the length of a single baseline can determine the scale of an entire triangulation network. In other words, if you take a picture of a tree with 2 cameras placed exactly 5 cm apart (or any other distance), you can calculate the exact distance to the tree in the pictures. Triangulation is not a new technique, astronomers have been using it for years to calculate distances to stellar objects (see parallax), and neither is stereoscopic imaging for creating the illusion of depth in 2D images a new idea (see stereoscopy). But Measure Mate is. Once smart phones include 3D cameras, the exact length of the first side of the triangle becomes a constant.
This is how it works:
You take a picture with Measure Mate (which is really two pictures: one from each lens).
Measure Mate superimposes the images one atop the other to create a new picture.
You select an object to which you want to know the distance in the new picture.
Measure Mate triangulates the distance to the object based on the distance between the two lenses.
You can read more about the necessary calculations here.
Measure Mate should be extremely cheap and easy to program – all the formulas already exist and all the technological concepts already exists. The most expensive budget item would probably be copyright protection for the app. I also think the potential market for Measure Mate is virtually limitless, from civilian to military markets, who wouldn’t pay just a few dollars for this piece of product innovation? Or forget about selling it, make it a free app and capitalize from advertising.
Due to the many requests I have received for information on getting a patent for a new product innovation, I would like to address some of your more frequently asked questions on patenting a new product, making a new product, and selling a new product or patent.
In order to get a patent for your new product, the two most important things you should do are keep silent about it and seek the advice of a good patent lawyer. You should tell absolutely nobody about your new idea except for a patent lawyer. Patent lawyers are accustomed to writing patents and they know how to do so in order to offer you the best protection for your new idea. They are also very proficient at searching patent databases to make sure that your idea is indeed patentable. Since the underlying rationale of patenting your product is protection, the better your patent application is written, the better the protection it offers once it is accepted. For your first meeting with a patent lawyer, you should be well prepared – you should be able to describe your new idea fluently. It helps to have something in writing and as many illustrations as possible that describe the new product. It helps even more to have a working prototype. When creating a prototype, many issues with the product may arise that would need to be dealt with before finalizing the patent. In other words, you wouldn't want your patent to describe a product that is different to the one you created. A working prototype is also very useful when selling the product or patent. However, all this has an unfortunately hefty price tag. You can save money by performing extensive online searches yourself, both at the United States Patent and Trading Office (USPTO) databases and using the leading search engines. For example, if you find that your product idea already exists, you won’t be able to patent it and it’s better that you find this out for yourself rather than pay a patent lawyer to do it for you.
Once you have submitted your patent application to the USPTO, your patent’s status is patent pending. Assuming the patent application is accepted, the registration date of the patent, or when your patent protection begins, is from the patent application submission date. During this time, you can share your new idea with other people without worrying about them copying it. If all you have are diagrams, this would be a good time to approach an engineer and begin manufacturing a prototype. If you are interested in creating a working prototype before submitting the patent application and you are unable to do it alone, make sure you have a good, signed, Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before sharing your idea with the manufacturer. An NDA is basically a contract between you and someone else that states that the information you share with them is confidential and if they share that information with a third party they will be held liable.
At last, the time has come to try and make some money from your patent. If you want mass produce the product yourself, by this stage you would probably be in need of cash and this would be a good time to approach potential investors. If an investor believes in your idea and chooses to give you money, this will be in return for a percentage of the product’s ownership. The more advanced the product is in its development, the less ownership can be claimed by the investor. You would then need to procure the services of a manufacturer that is willing and able to manufacture your product at a reasonable rate. Next, you could approach retailers that sell similar products and see if they are interested to sell your product. If they are, they would be ordering quantities of the product from you, which you would then order from the manufacturer and deliver to them. In this case, you would be a wholesaler (not a retailer). You could also open a shop front or an Internet site to distribute your product (in which case you would be a retailer as well). Another way to go about making money from your patented product is by selling the patent rights to a company that already manufactures something similar. The more proven demand there is for your product, the more money your patent will be worth.
Sometimes pure luck determines the success of your new product but more often than not it is your determination. If you have a new idea that you believe in and pursue, you’re on the right track. The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the process and believe in your product innovation.
This is a new idea for a smartphone application and is based on some already existing technologies for searching the web with pictures rather than keywords. Who’s That App would enable you to take a picture of someone you know or want to know better with your smartphone and would search the web for any matches based on face recognition software. Imagine being at a bar and falling head over heels for someone. You could either approach him or her and try get a phone number or email address or you could ask around if anyone you know knows that person. Who’s That App would provide another option - take a picture of the person and get to know him or her a little better through a Facebook page or anywhere else that person’s picture appears. Who’s That App would enable you to be more informed about the person you wish to approach. Dating and matchmaking services aside, Who’s That App is definitely something I’d like to have on my phone, simply because I hate seeing people in the street that I recognize and should remember their names but never do… Who’s That App would appeal to a very wide target audience and shouldn’t be all that expensive to develop considering the fact that it’s based on already existing picture search engines and facial recognition software. It should just be a matter of knitting them together – which is the new idea here – and developing an easy-to-use yet awesome graphic user interface.
This is one of those creative ideas you can only have when dealing with art. When I needed to hang up a picture above the TV at my wife’s request, it took me about six months because I was too busy thinking about how to move or cover my 42 inch LCD TV so that all the dust and bits of wall wouldn’t go into all its sensitive spots. The picture now has a new cozy home, above the sofa. However, during those six months, I came up with Drill Clean – a scrap collecting drill attachment that would fit onto any handheld drill and collect all the rubbish produced when drilling. Drill Clean is basically a transparent cylinder shaped piece of plastic, made of two telescopic segments with a spring between them, which attaches to the business end of a drill. When you drill a hole in any vertical surface, all the scrap would be collected in the cylinder rather than fall on your TV, floor, bed, and so on. Drill Clean would be adjustable, so as to fit any type of drill with any type of drill bit attached – and be flush with the end of the drill bit. This, together with the plastic's transparency, would enable you to precisely position the drill to the wall and ensure that the hole is made exactly where you wanted it to be made, mess free.
An additional feature of this idea could be an incremental locking mechanism on the telescopic cylinder to provide depth gauging. This would add another dimension of precision to your work. The inner part of the telescopic cone would have incremental markings etched into it at every millimeter and the locking mechanism would enable you to lock the telescopic function of the cylinder at a desired depth, for example, 25 mm. In other words, after locking Drill Clean at 25 mm, when a hole is drilled, the cylinder would stop retracting at precisely 25 mm, ensuring that your new hole is 25 mm deep.
The basic concept behind Drill Clean is to make Do-It-Yourself (DIY) home improvement work easier, faster, and cleaner. Consequently, this is how Drill Clean should be marketed. Speaking as a frequent DIY home improvement perpetrator, and as a bit of a lazy bastard who prefers beer over work, I am constantly looking for ways to make such work consume less effort, less time, and less mess. So do I prefer creative ideas over creative work? No – as long as the work is efficient. Drill Clean would make my life and many other DIYers' lives easier and probably at very little cost. Since Drill Clean is made up of very few and relatively cheap parts, and has little mechanics to it, it would be ridiculously cheap to manufacture and hence market. I would definitely pay anywhere from 20 to 40 bucks for this and be extremely pleased with my purchase. I think that a patent should be attempted first, even with its associated high costs, and then it's either on to mass manufacturing and marketing or to selling the patent to a leading handheld drill manufacturer (such as Makita, DeWalt, Black & Decker) who are always looking for new creative ideas for their products.
This new product is in the form of a website that lists and rates products that you bought according to a predefined set of criteria. I envisage the website as a tool that people would be able to use in order to make smarter purchases. If I wanted to buy a new watch for example, I would be able to search the BlackList website and if the watch didn't appear there, I'd be a little more confident in my future purchase. This obviously wouldn't replace conventional product reviews, which are essential for making well-informed smarter purchases, but it would complement them. BlackList would save you the hassle of searching for that not-so-positive product review that can be so informative and is usually buried under numerous positive reviews. As a person who has made many a bad purchase, I started looking for such a site and was surprised to find absolutely no such thing. Not even one! The closest thing I found was in a ChinaDaily article claiming that the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology plans to "draw up a blacklist displaying the names of those firms breaching quality-related regulations" (click here to view the article).
Sometimes, purchasing a dud product can be so unequivocally frustrating that all you want to do is make sure 'they' (the product's manufacturer) suffer. Other times, when you're in a more positive and sane state of mind, it's just bloody annoying. Either way, with BlackList, you could make a difference. BlackList would be beneficial to us consumers for many reasons, including:
Helping other people avoid the unfortunate experience of purchasing a dud.
Improving consumer awareness.
Rewarding good products that don't appear on the website.
Punishing bad products that do appear on the website by sharing our experiences and preventing others from making similar purchases.
Knowledge sharing for more a more enlightened society.
And punishing those bad products again.
Due to the legal problems associated with public badmouthing, the BlackList's product rating and listing system would need to be automated so as not to make the website owner liable for the blacklist in any way. For example, entering a new product in the site would open a form with the following fields: Manufacturer, Product name and model, Primary reason for blacklisting (dead on arrival, does not work as advertised, breaks down every day/week/month, requires constant servicing, no customer support, no spare parts, appears to be used, and so on), Secondary reason for blacklisting (same as above), Other (short free text), Get it off your chest (free text describing your experience). Each field would then be assigned a score out of 10, for example, Primary reason for blacklisting – dead on arrival = 10; Primary reason for blacklisting – breaks down every day = 9; Secondary reason for blacklisting – any = 1. When a final score is calculated, the website's database would be searched for the same product, according to manufacturer and product name and model, and would be added to the grand total. The 100 highest scoring products would then be listed on the blacklist. A further precaution could be added to only list products with over a certain number of entries. A disclaimer could be included in the form stating that the person filling out the form is solely responsible for the information contained therein and to the accuracy of that information.
When buying a new product, check the BlackList first. I know I would. Marketing wouldn't be a problem once a large enough online community makes use of BlackList. Manufacturers that don't appear on BlackList would be more than happy to use this as an advertising gimmick. Even those that do appear on the list could use that information as a wake-up call for improving. Proven steps taken by companies on the blacklist to alleviate their products' problems could even be used a tool to remove them from the site, or at least scale down their products' prominence on BlackList. It would be a great day indeed when one of my new ideas or new product innovations makes it onto or off BlackList!
If you’ve ever come back to your car after a long and busy day and found a vacant hole where your driver side window should have been, fragments of glass on your seat beside a brick and that the only thing missing is your $500 stereo system, then Titan is for you. This is my contribution to the anti car theft and abuse cause. Titan is car window armor in the form of a rollable steel mesh screen that would roll down on rails connected to the car’s frame, on parallel sides of all the car’s windows. The mesh screen could be rolled up and down manually or automatically by a small standard motor and would need to lock when in either rolled or unrolled position. In order to prevent driving hazards arising from Titan blocking your view of the road when driving, Titan’s motor would need to be disengaged when the car is running. I don’t like products that create more work for people, and with that in mind, the Titan motor should be wired up to your car alarm system just like the central locking system so that when you exit your car and activate the alarm, the doors lock and Titan descends, completely covering the most vulnerable parts of your car and giving new meaning to the term armored car.
Steel mesh, like chainmail, is extremely durable, easily strong enough to prevent someone gaining access to your car by smashing something against your window. Although your window will need repair, at least your car will still be where you left it with its contents intact. Titan would complement your car’s theft determent systems perfectly. It wouldn’t replace your car alarm or immobilizer, but it would save you the hassle of having to disconnect and remove your GPS, stereo system, or other valuables whenever you leave your car. Titan could also be available with an attached sun-proof fabric that could also protect your car from harmful UV rays as well as prying eyes.
Titan relies on existing materials and products for its manufacture. The innovation is in their combination and application. I am not sure if Titan could be patented or not, but it could definitely be produced and manufactured at very affordable rates. Since Titan would require professional installation to ensure its durability and safety, it could easily be marketed through the vast infrastructure of car appliance installation specialists. Not to mention, if Titan was to be adopted by a car manufacturing company, the addition of such an innovative new product could be a major marketing advantage for that company.
Why can't I walk into a supermarket, fill up my shopping cart, swipe my credit card at the door and leave? And I'm not referring to smart shopping carts which cost heaps and offer little or RFID enabled mobile phones or credit cards. RFID Shopping is simple, safe, and much more fun – more like a filling up at a self-service gas station. I guess this is more of a service based on existing products than a product in itself, but here goes anyway. RFID Shopping is a system that includes RFID tags instead of barcodes on all the items in a supermarket, a fixed RFID reader located anywhere in the supermarket and connected to a user-operated pay station, and a second fixed RFID reader located near the exit and connected to an alarm.
With RFID Shopping, you would enter the supermarket, fill up your cart or shopping bags, proceed to the pay station where a list of all your items would appear onscreen, swipe your credit card, and leave. When you approach the exit, if the additional fixed RFID reader detects that the content in your shopping cart mysteriously doesn't match the content you paid for at the pay station, it would sound an alarm notifying security personnel, or not open the door for you. Such a supermarket would still employ one or two conventional check-out personnel for dealing with problems that could arise or for people who prefer to pay cash.
RFID Shopping is a relatively cheap way for supermarkets to evolve, without necessitating enormous initial costs, as do some of the other RFID related ideas out there. With RFID Shopping, most of the supermarket infrastructure remains the same as new smart shopping carts or expensive computer systems do not have to be purchased or developed. RFID Shopping has many advantages for a supermarket, including reduced supermarket personnel expenses due to the reduced amount of check-out personnel required; increased floor size obtained by reducing the amount of check-out counters and lanes, which in turn enables displaying and selling more products; a more positive and less time consuming shopping experience for customers.
Originally, this idea was for an infrared-based remote controlled power socket that you could plug into an electric socket and plug any electric appliance into it, giving you remote control over the power to that appliance. This idea came to me when I was in bed, too lazy to get up and turn off the fan which was plugged into the wall socket a few meters away. I wished I had a remote control for the damned thing… Since I thought of LazyPower just about 10 years ago, and technology has leapt forward, I think it would be prudent to update this idea to incorporate both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies. B-LazyPower would be an electric power socket with BlueTooth that would be connected between any electric appliance and the wall socket and be controlled by your smartphone, when within range. Wi-LazyPower, on the other hand, would incorporate Wi-Fi technology and enable control of the socket from your home network (or anywhere else via this network). Each has its pros and its cons and each provides different development opportunities and user comforts. I would incorporate some software with each, for example an iPhone app for controlling all the detected B-LazyPower units and a program (Win/Mac) for controlling or setting up timer de/activation of all the detected Wi-LazyPower units from your PC.
In addition to the plug-and-play variety, which could convert your fan, radiator, fridge, or even toaster into a smarter and more accessible appliance, LazyPower could also be incorporated into permanent wall fixtures (light switches, RJ-11/45), providing a more affordable solution to some of the comforts offered by conventional smarthomes. Marketability of LazyPower is almost endless, including providing accessibility to people with disabilities, controlling and enforcing power-out periods at either work or home, and efficient power-saving by not forgetting appliances turned on all night. Once again, I think that LazyPower could be produced fairly easily for it too relies on already existing technologies – it just blends them together for new purposes. For this reason, LazyPower be marketed at very competitive rates and I know I'd buy it.
When I was a technical writer, I often felt that a computer could be doing a lot of the software API documentation instead of me. AutoDoc is a program that would enable you to define basic tasks in your program that you wish to document and would create the documentation according to where, how, and what you clicked or typed. AutoDoc would either interface with your software or perform screen captures and OCR to get window, field, and box names and images for the document. Based on a set of predefined templates and a dictionary of technical writing terminology, AutoDoc would then describe your actions in a simple and user-friendly way. For example, if you right-click a button with the mouse, AutoDoc would write "In the [window/tab-name], right-click [button-name]". According to the template you selected, a result of the action could be included (i.e., "The [window-name] window appears") as well as an image of that window. The templates could also include customizable font style definitions and color schemes, to name a few. The process would be something like:
1) Run AutoDoc.
2) Run your program.
3) Press F8 to begin AutoDoc mode. The define task window would appear.
4) Enter the name of the task you wish to perform in your program and click OK.
5) Perform the task in your program and press F8 when you are done.
AutoDoc would then document the procedure in your word processor exactly how you performed it yourself, with all the necessary screenshots. If you happen to be the programmer who created the feature, you are guaranteed documentation consistency and accuracy (assuming you know what you are doing).
AutoDoc would need a few hundred hours of programming to get started but shouldn’t require much more than that for basic functionality. A technical writer should also be in on the project to correctly define the dictionary of technical writing terminology. AutoDoc could be offered free with basic functionality which would already make many a technical writer very happy. It could then be enhanced with added functionality and templates and licenses could be sold. I think AutoDoc would cut the costs for many software developing companies due to reduced documentation expenses. That is, a technical documentation company will charge much less for editing an already existing document than for documenting a program from scratch. With AutoDoc, you could be providing the technical documentation company with a rough draft of your program's user guide and only requesting that they edit and perhaps write some introductory material in each chapter about the technologies used by your software. Alternatively, if you are a freelance technical writer, you could save up to 50% of the project time by using AutoDoc and either offer more attractive rates to your customers or make a whole lot more dough.
Wouldn't it be great if when you're snapping pics on holiday, someone you care about could see them as you snap them from half the world away? Well, I tend to think so. Snapper would be some sort of BlueTooth enabled USB dongle that you could plug into your digital camera and would enable you to transmit pictures taken to your 3G phone. A simple application could then forward the received picture to anywhere you want (email, SMS, Facebook). I envisage it as a two-step procedure:
1) Plug in the Snapper dongle to your camera.
2) Take a picture.
When you plug in the Snapper dongle, your preconfigured Bluetooth device (phone) is recognized and ready to send any picture received to a preconfigured location. Then when you take the picture, it is automatically sent to wherever you wanted it to go. That is, assuming there is 3G network coverage when you take the picture.
Snapper could also work with a Wi-Fi dongle enabling you to send pictures through your home network to local storage or the Internet. This would alleviate the need for the phone acting as a middle man but is much more limited for there are fewer places with public Wi-Fi than with 3G network coverage. Snapper could also eliminate the need for large and costly memory cards by sending all pictures taken on your camera to be stored externally and not on the camera's memory card. I think that Snapper could be produced fairly easily for it relies on already existing technologies – it just blends them together for new purposes. For this reason, Snapper could be marketed at under $100 and I know I'd pay that much for it.
Snapper would be especially useful for whenever you go out with your camera, be it for a holiday or a trip to the zoo with the kids, but also for the more specialized market of reporters and professional photographers (to whom you could offer Snapper with data encryption). Also, if you take many pictures at home and you're lazy like me – simply can't be bothered transferring the pictures to my computer – Snapper would be perfect for you!