More Things That Should Exist
Another braindump of creative ideas about random household things.
"Sounds Like" search
Zagat's had a great "sounds like" search feature. It was able to match "Ken Cow" with Kin Khao, a good Thai place in SoHo I'd eaten at whose name I could pronounce, but not spell. (It's good, or was 4 years ago when I ate there.)
Google (or any other search company) should add this to their search roster, as well as spelling correction. I used to use Google as a spell checker for words I was unsure of, but now, so many people mis-spell words like I do that even the wrong way returns a couple thousand hits and no suggestions from Google.
Did you mean: Ken Chow
Tip: The Best Fly Swatter
A water bottle makes a great fly swatter. The water is propelled as fast as any blast of air (which is what alert's the fly that something's coming), and drenches the fly so it can't take off. Plus, it's more sanitary than using the same piece of plastic over and over again, and if you simply capture the fly and let it go outside, more humanitarian as well.
You can use a cleaner if that's what you have on hand, just be careful where you're aiming. Water is much better at not blinding people, or not making food inedible.
Just set it to a relatively wide setting, and go.
Anonymous Forums and Chat
This isn't exactly my idea, but it's one I've been espousing for a while. A year or so ago I joined an Invisible IRC network (anonymous IRC - your IP address wasn't associated with what you said). I liked it there because the discussion was a little more intelligent than usual, and there weren't so many people there that you couldn't know them all. Plus the people who hung out there were interested in all sorts of fascinating things like creating anonymous P2P networks and encryption.
One of the rooms there was really anonymous. When someone said something, no name was attached to it.
We didn't use it often, but the experience was really fascinating. Mostly we just talked about the effect this kind of chat had on people, but the complete lack of a "persona" really let you focus on what was being said in a way having a name attached never could. People were more receptive to the ideas of others, and more open about their own ideas.
I see a lot of people get entrenched in their positions when names are attached to what's being said. People attack prominent members of a forum, and it becomes harder and harder to have a reasonable conversation with people. I'd love to experiment with a really anonymous forum or chat where no names are attached to anything. Perhaps some time I'll set this up and see how it works out.
Picture In Picture In Picture
We already have picture-in-picture, and the TV Guide channel. Well, why not a grid where we can see 9 channels at once? It sure beats flipping channel by channel to see what's on. We can see 9 channels at once, and freeze one pane while the rest continue to scroll so we can decide whether or not we're interested in one channel while the rest continue to flip.
This would be, I think, the ultimate expression of the modern "1,000 channels but nothing on" television world that's becoming increasingly fast-paced and impatient. You can program it to show you your favorite channels first, or just randomly pick any channels from the spectrum of what's on.
Unfortunately, I don't have cable, so I'm stuck with the dozen or so broadcast channels that are available in my area, but I think a television with this feature (it would have to be more expensive because it would have to decode 9 different signals), could be a big hit.
Clear Refrigerator Doors
We have windows that keep our houses warm, even when it's below freezing outside, so why can't we have refridgerator doors that are clear and let us see what's inside without opening the door? Yeah I know that there are things on the door that would typically obstruct your view, but you could see around them. Maybe this isn't such a great, idea, but it's worth thinking about. Sort of.
Why are all our batteries round? AA, AAA, C, D, etc. Only our 9-Volt batteries are square. You could fit the same volume of battery into a smaller space if you just made them square instead of round. They experimented with genetically engineered square tomatoes, so why not square batteries? Plus, they wouldn't roll off the table!
Maybe these would be more expensive to manufacture, but I think the space savings in smaller devices could be worth it.
The Key, Wallet & Remote Control Finder
I never lose my keys. But I have friends who do. Sometimes I lose the remote, but I know people who lose it all the time. Why not use the same technology that portable phones use to help you find them?
Your keys & remote controls have a built-in flashy, blinky, beepy thing that reacts whenever a button on a stationary base is pushed. Sort of like how pushing a button on your phone base finds the phone. This is so obvious, I really don't know why TV manufacturer's haven't put it in all their remote controls, except that it's more expensive and they make less money on remote control sales.
An RFID chip you can attach to any and all of the above. You bring a handheld device from room to room and it finds all your RFID enabled things. I don't know what prevents you from losing the handheld device though.
Okay, some company is working on this, but I'd thought about this after reading the BitTorrent white papers. Why not alleviate the bandwidth required for streaming video by letting people get parts of it from each other, instead of just everyone getting it from the source?
Dehumidifying Litter Box
Any cat owner knows that it's moisture that makes kitty litter go bad. A cat box that could dehumidify itself would go a long way towards relieving the owner's constant need to empty the box and put in fresh litter.
I saw one cat box that had some sort of synthetic pellets and would actually rinse itself, like a washing-machine-meets-a-toilet-bowl., periodically. Well, why not a litter box that has a fan that vents air out of the house? It could detect the level of moisture, and a fan would dry the litter, while pushing the smelly air outside. Preferrably as far from people as possible, up in to the air like smoke from the chimney.
I realize that's an expensive proposition that actually requires some architectural changes, so the other alternative is simply a dehumidifying litter box that comes with a standard dehumidifier. Plastic bags could be used wherever the moisture accumulates so you don't have to deal with emptying it and cleaning it out.
But, I guess nothing will beat that litter box that uses clumping litter and sweeps the clumps in to a plastic bin.
The CPU Cooling Tube
Mac has their multi-zone cooling system, but I can do even better than that. A 1" tube that runs from the outside of the computer to the CPU and out. Before the air can be warmed by the inside of the computer, it's brought to the CPU to cool it, and before it has a chance to warm up the rest of the computer, it's pushed out through another tube.
I'd considered building something like this from old paper towel tubes, but my computer doesn't really overheat, so I'm not that motivated to do it.
Another option is to simply have the CPU and PSU on the outside of the computer. The PSU could easily be put outside entirely (there's no reason for the hot air that's coming out of the PSU to go in to the case...), but the CPU would require some more work. Again, a tube-like device would be the solution. The side of the case would simply open up and dimple in towards the CPU allowing fresh, cool air to reach the CPU and escape back in to the room without warming the rest of the case. This could be baffled appropriately to cut down on noise.
Other articles in this series
- More Ideas
- Social Networking IM Client
- More Brainfarts
- Even More Things I Thought Of
- Other Things I Thought Up
- Amazing Inventions That Were
- Things to do on Earth When You're Bored (or Depressed).
page first created on Wednesday, January 19, 2005
© Mark Wieczorek