Below is a list of things I wish people would invent. If you want to steal any of these ideas, feel free. Just make them so I can buy or borrow them. I’ll be adding more items to this list as I think of them.
1: Toilet seats with pedals that lift the seat.
It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to invent a toilet pedal, and you don’t have to invent a whole new toilet. Just build an attachment that connects to existing toilets. Every day millions of people press a pedal at the base of their trash can to lift the lid to throw garbage in. Move that pedal into the bathroom and have it lift the toilet seat. I don’t know why the people who make pedal-operated trash cans aren’t mass producing these.
(Update: It turns out someone has invented a pedal operated toilet seat lifter, but it’s only sold on Amazon as far as I know, and it’s been out of stock for several years. Plus, some of the comments from people who have used it say that it doesn’t lift the seat up all the way. So if you could solve that design flaw you could easily establish yourself as the market leader in the untapped toilet pedal market. Somebody is going to get rich improving on this existing product. It could be you.
2: Laser/Sonar walking sticks for the blind
Blind people carry walking sticks so they can tell what’s directly in front of them, but they need to know how far the next wall is before they get there. Blind people often have friends and family tell them how many steps they’ll have to take to get to reach the edge of an unfamiliar environment like a restaurant. You can solve this problem by putting a laser or sonar device into the handle of a blind person’s cane. When you press a button on the cane it’ll measure the distance between you and a wall or object you’re facing. Then the cane tells the user how far the object is. The cane could have a speaker in it that beeps the number of steps or it could say it in a sexy British voice. You could even have the cane transmit the distance to a hearing aid device so the distance just gets whispered into their ear. Or the handle could vibrate once for every step.
3: One website to rule them all
I go to Reddit to get most of my news because it’s the only place that offers most of the world’s news in a convenient layout. I go to Facebook to see what my friends are up to. The only other site I go to on a regular basis is WordPress to do my blogging.
Back when Myspace was the premier social media site I was able to do my blogging and keep up with my friends on one site. If Facebook offered blogging, I’d spend a third more time on Facebook. If Facebook stole Reddit’s wall of crowd-sourced news articles with its robust comment/karma tracking system I’d spend even more time on Facebook. If Facebook provided E-mail and cloud storage then I’d never go to any other site unless I needed to buy something.
I’m just saying, the first person to combine the functionalities of Facebook (networking with friends and strangers), Reddit (news feeds of user-generated web-content where you can discuss content, create your own forums and message other users), and WordPress (a strong, versatile blogging platform) and Myspace (the ability for friends to see your blogs in their news feeds) into one site is going to become a billionaire. To this, you may reply, “Hey, Google + can do all that.” That’s true, but Google + accomplishes that by clumsily tying together multiple web services that each have their own site. I don’t want to have to jump back and forth between web pages. I want one web page that does everything. If this website had an 8-bit virtual office somewhere in there too, so much the better.
4: An 8-bit virtual office
I want a fun virtual office, and I can build one in Second Life, but I don’t need or want to use the software or bandwidth that would require. Graphically, all I need in a virtual office is an environment like Final Fantasy 1 or Dragon Warrior. I need a game like Farmville, except instead of wasting time I can walk around a fully functioning virtual office where I can interact with other real users in real time using real project management software.
5: A rechargeable solar-powered car battery in a box with household electric sockets on the side
Take a small box and put a car battery in it. Then mount a solar panel on the lid. Then put a regular household power strip on the side of the box. Then install whatever electrical conversion devices you need to charge a car battery with a solar panel and provide power to a standard 110 or 220 electrical power strip. Then let me buy that so I can power all my household appliances when I go camping. Also, people in third world countries may find this useful.
Update: I saw a product sort of like this in one of those shopping catalogs you find in airplanes, but it was the size of a standard family BBQ grill. If someone could bring the size down to a hibachi grill that’d be great.
6: Tea bags with powdered cream and sugar in them
You need three things to make a good cup of tea: tea leaves, sugar, and milk. This means you need a box of tea bags, a bottle of milk and a bag of sugar. If they made tea bags that already had powdered creamer and sugar inside the bag (possibly in a separate compartment) then I wouldn’t need to carry a box of ingredients everywhere I went just to make a simple cup of tea… and neither would the millions of people raised in the British Commonwealth.
7: Memory foam pillow lifters
The pillows on my bed always seem to be too big or too small. So I usually end up stacking two pillows that are too small, but their combined size is still usually too big, and they get separated when I toss and turn at night. If I want to roll to the other side of my bed I have to take both pillows with me and restack them, and that’s a nuisance when I’m trying to sleep. I’ve solved these problems by folding up a thin blanket and laying it under the fitted sheet at the head of my bed. That lifts my pillow up just enough to be comfortable even if I roll from one side of my bed to the other and back. My solution to this problem was free. So I’d be stupid to spend money on a product that does the exact same thing, but if I saw a thin strip of memory foam pad specifically marketed as a pillow lifter I’d probably buy it, and I bet a lot of other people would too.
8: Mousepad lifters
I use my computer a lot, and I also move a lot. I’m constantly finding myself sitting in different chairs in front of different desks, staring at my same old computer. None of the desk/chair combinations are exactly the same.The only variable that never changes is the optimal distance from my shoulder to my mouse. I’m constantly having to find creative ways to arrange and stack random home furnishings to lift my mouse as close as I can to the optimal ergonomic height.
This problem would be solved if I had an adjustable-height mouse pad. It could be a thin box with a mouse pad mounted on the top. Preferably, the box would be polished wood, and the mouse pad would be an imitation Persian rug. The box could raise telescopically. Or it could lift the same way most adjustable height office chairs change height, or the way some raise-able platforms extend.
9: Mini battery backups for desktop computers
I don’t need a giant, heavy battery backup for my desktop computer that holds a 9-hour charge. I just need 5-10 minutes of battery power to keep my computer from shutting off if there’s a power flicker in my house or I accidentally kick the power cord out of the socket. They already make power strips with a built-in battery backup function, but that’s still too big, and I don’t need all the electronics in my office on battery backup. All I need and want is one small battery that connects between my computer and the wall socket. Actually, in a perfect world, this battery would come pre-installed inside my desktop computer. If we can put a battery in a laptop, why not a desktop? To this, you might reply, “Because you don’t need a battery in your desktop.” To that, I would reply, “You don’t need one until you lose all your unsaved data because your computer turned off all of a sudden.”
10: Healthcare timeshares
Instead of me paying 100-200 dollars per month for medical care that I still have to pay a $6000 deductible for that effectively prevents me from receiving basic medical care, how about 100 people get together and pay $1,000 per year to a doctor. Then that doctor only sees those 100 people, and those 100 people can see that doctor anytime they want without worrying about any of the financial paperwork, deductibles, copay or any other bullshit we normally have to deal with when going through a health insurance company. The only out of pocket expenses would be the cost of whatever consumable/disposable medical equipment the doctor has to use on a client. If a large enough company oversaw 1000 doctors who sell their services at a flat rate for time-share-like access I believe the company could be profitable and both doctors and patients would be happier.
11: Sustainable eco office neighborhoods
The suburbs are unsustainable and inhumane. They’re destroying the planet and making us miserable. An architect named Jacque Fresco has already drawn up all the plans for a sustainable replacement for suburbia. I don’t know why everyone else hasn’t stolen his ideas and made billions of dollars off them while saving the planet.
I don’t need anything as fancy as Jacque Fresco’s Venus Project. When I was a kid I lived three blocks from the actual projects. The outside of my house doesn’t have to sparkle. All I need are sandbag walls, concrete floors, basic utilities and a greenhouse. If you built a sandbag building big enough you could house an entire sustainable intentional community with space to live and work Then the residents wouldn’t have to leave their house to get to work or the grocery store.
There are people who wouldn’t want to live in that kind of environment, but if the number of drug addicts and Emo kids living in suburbia is any indication of how frustrating and unfulfilling living in the suburbs is, I’d say it’s a moral imperative to try something different. Point in fact, since suburbia is unsustainable, it’s not a matter of if it will collapse but when. Sooner or later we’re going to be forced to try something different. So why not get rich doing the thing that everybody is waiting to happen… right now? I’d do it myself, but I barely have enough money to build a sandwich.
If you’re having a hard time imagining what I’m talking about, let me draw you a picture:
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12: Floating island communities
We have cruise ships, submarines and aircraft carriers that can stay at sea for months at a time and sustain hundreds of crew members. Those are expensive as hell because they’re designed to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible in as much style as possible. I want to move out to sea and never come back. So I don’t need a floating vessel that goes anywhere. And I don’t need style. I’m used to austerity, and I think minimalism is aesthetically pleasing anyway. I’ll trade all the cannons and chandeliers for a garden. To fulfill my needs the island doesn’t need to be anything more than a really, huge floating drum with a garden on the top and an anchor on the bottom. That’d be really easy to make. You could make one out of cement using a cast cheaper than it costs to build a 5 bedroom house. And yes, concrete floats.
Rich people like to live on boats. There’d be an instant market for luxury floating drum islands. You could even make floating campgrounds and hotel chains to test the market first. And the best part about it is, you don’t have to buy land. I don’t know why Kim Dotcom isn’t hosting MegaUpload in a floating fortress in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or why Pablo Escobar wasn’t throwing a permanent Mardi Gras on a massive tract of floating resort islands or why every hotel in Waikiki doesn’t sell their property and build twice as many rooms off the coast of Hawaii. Or why the Red Cross isn’t building sustainable flotillas for refugees where they can live safely and sustainable while the warlords in their home country figure out what to do after all their farmers leave for greener pastures at sea.
If you’re having a hard time imagining what I’m talking about, let me draw you a picture:
How to Build a Trailer House Boat
Occupy LOL Street: The Freedom Flotilla
Monk and Punk: Book 2
13: A comfy eye pillow/audio headset headband
I really like sleeping masks that you cool down in the refrigerator and then put over your eyes while you sleep. I especially like them if they’re soft and smell like lavender. They cool down my eyes and help me relax and think. I like the sandbag type more than the gel type because it’s softer, gentler and more conforming. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a sandbag type with a band to hold it on my head so I can roll around and bed without it falling off my face. So I’d really like a soft, lavender scented eye pillow with a soft, broad elastic band that holds it on my head as snugly as Bane’s mask. I want the bands wide enough to just wrap around my ears, and I want speakers sewn into the fabric where the band covers my ear. I want to listen to relaxing music in those speakers while my eyes are cooled under the soft, sandy eye pillow wrapped around my head like a plush halo.
Update: It looks like someone made something pretty close to what I’m talking about. But I wouldn’t buy that because it’s got hard surfaces and strings. I want something that looks and feels like an oversized sweatband.
14: The ultimate sloth chair
If you sit in a chair all day every day staring at a computer you’re going to develop back problems. We all know we’re not supposed to sit in chairs too long, but we do it anyway. We sit at our desks at work all day, and we go home and sit at our home desks there. And that’s how many of us are going to spend our entire lives even though it’s wrong. We need chairs that aren’t designed to sit in for 6-9 hours. We need chairs that were designed to sit in for 10000000000 hours. I’m not asking for a chair that you can sit in for that long without developing any health problems. I’m just asking for a chair you can sit in for that long and will minimize the inevitable damage as much as possible.
On a similar note, I’d also like rolling office chairs that are made from reclaimed car seats. Imagine sitting at your computer desk in a Lexus car seat.
15: Psychology for the masses
While there’s no one size fits all approach to psychological therapy, there are a lot of common themes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A lot of people have the same mental/emotional problems, and a lot of those people come from poor, broken homes. As a result of the social caste they were born into and their traumatic childhood they’ve grown up into poor adults who can’t afford to see a dentist much less spend $60-$250 per hour getting the counseling they so desperately need.
If a publishing company teamed up with a team of top-notch mental health professionals they could create fictional stories in the form of books and movies based on typical real-life stories of trauma and neglect that show the reader they’re not alone in their suffering, they’re not responsible for the actions of the people who hurt them and they can heal. These stories wouldn’t be an attempt to make professional therapy obsolete. They would be a way to help people understand the need for one-on-one therapy, and therapists could even prescribe them to clients as supplemental homework to be used in conjunction with therapy. For the poorest of the poor, who mental health professionals have told don’t deserve help because they can’t afford the extortionate rates therapists price their sessions at, it would be the only access to help they have. It would be a shame for people to replace one-on-one therapy with watching television, but it’s better than nothing, which is exactly what the mental health profession is giving them right now.
16: Modular injection-molded greenhouses
Greenhouses are very expensive to build, and the more durable of a greenhouse you build the more expensive it is. So if you want to build a greenhouse in a snowy region, you’re going to pay a lot of money for a structure that won’t collapse under the snow.
If the companies that make modular quanset huts or bow roof sheds could make a mold of one of their buildings and then use injection molding to fill that mold with glass, plexiglass or some other clear, durable material they could cheaply and easily mass produce super-durable, low-cost modular greenhouses. You’d have to transport them on a flatbed truck, but you’d probably need a flatbed truck to transport all the beams and windows it would take to build a traditional snow-proof greenhouse. If this product were available it would allow more people to be able to own and maintain a greenhouse (especially in snowy areas where flimsy greenhouses aren’t an option).
17: Good story building software
The technology exists to build elaborate databases easily in a day. Tons of specialized text editing software has been invented to help authors organize novels. There’s even a lot of freeware that does all of these things. What doesn’t exist is a program that walks you through the stages of a story by having you answer a series of questions that will then generate a story as well structured as an episode of The Twilight Zone. The plot templates exist. The right people just haven’t gotten together yet to build software around it, but they will.
18: Techno music played solely by orchestras and designed to facilitate thinking
Imagine sitting at your computer listening to rhythmic, softly rolling techno music played entirely by symphony instruments. That would pretty much be the most soothing, inspiring, alpha-brain-wave-producing sound you could hear. If someone made that there would be a lot of people who would buy it, and those people will probably get smarter by having quality background music to listen to while thinking and studying.
19: A physical model of the perpetual motion machine I designed
I don’t expect this, or any of the other perpetual motion machines I designed, to actually be able to run under its own power indefinitely. It should just sit there stationary and sad looking, but I put so much time and effort into coming up with this design that I’d really like to see and possibly own a physical model of it. Why would anyone build a machine that doesn’t work? Either as a novelty or out of the kindness of your heart. Would you please build one? Pretty please?
The concept is that the device is a wheel on a spoke. The wheel is shaped sort of like a water wheel. Solid planks or rails connect the center of the wheel to the outer frame. The wheel has no side walls, like a bicycle wheel. A rod-shaped weight longer than the width of the wheel is stuck through the area between each spoke. Then ramps are constructed on either side of the wheel so that the rods rest on them when they come in contact.
The idea is that the bottom ramp will guide the rods that are stuck through the bottom half of the wheel’s spokes to roll to the right, pushing the wheel counterclockwise. Another ramp will guide most of the rods stuck through the top half of the wheel’s spokes to the left, pushing the wheel counterclockwise. In this configuration, there should always be more rods pushing the wheel counterclockwise than clockwise.
I’ve never taken a physics class. So I can’t explain the math behind why this won’t work, but I’m sure there is one. If any physicists would like to explain it to me, feel free to leave a comment.
20: A dismantle-able luxury cot
I like to camp, but I don’t like sleeping on the ground. Sleeping mats and inflatable mattresses suck, and portable beds are too bulky to travel with. Cots are a little easier to transport, but not much, and they’re not known for their comfort.
What I’d like to take with me camping is a cot that doesn’t fold up like a taco but is fully dismantle-able like tent poles. I want a bag that slings over my shoulder like a quiver that all the components of the cot can be stored in. I don’t want a cot that has a million moving parts that allow you to fold it up like a camping chair. Those kind of cots have too many breakable parts and extra weight. I’d rather just detach all the poles and throw them in a bag.
I don’t want to sleep on a canvas hammock or a thin, military cot. I don’t need something light weight enough that I can hike 20 miles with it on my back. I’m just carrying it from my truck to my tent. And I don’t need a heavy duty childproof/weatherproof cot, because it’ll only ever be in a tent, in my truck or in my closet. My only two priorities is that it’s portable and luxuriously comfortable. In fact, I want a portable cot that’s so comfortable it can be used as a guest bed in my house. To that end, someone should invent something like a super strong, two-ply, Egyptian cotton (or spandex) hammock that’s filled with memory foam and can be suspended from a cot frame or rolled up into a tube for storage.
21: Thick clothing with ambitious technological gadgets sewn into them
Technology has reached the point where this is possible. There’s no reason we shouldn’t all be walking around like Inspector Gadget with retractable propellers in our hats. Think about it. Every child who has seen The Goonies loved Data’s quirky, wearable gadgets. We would have bought clothing with completely impractical Walkman-sized gadgets in them then, and we’re still waiting even though technology has advanced to the point where legitimately useful gadgets can be manufactured small enough and durable enough to hide in clothing easily.
When I shout, “PANTS ACTIVATE!” I want something to happen. I want two-way speakers in my collar and a HUD that flips down from the brim of my hat. I don’t care what it does. I don’t care if shows me Google Maps, my heart rate or it just makes everything look all psychedelic. I’ll buy one pretty much no matter what. I want to shoot Nerf bullets and breath spray out of my coat sleeves, and women should be able to shoot mace out of theirs. I want to be able to open my wallet, call a friend and have a video chat. I want LED lights around the rim of my coat sleeve. I want pistons in my shoes. I want a video screen on my back. I want every piece of clothing I own to do more than keep me warm.
Our pocket books are as deep as your imagination. I wonder who the first major clothing brand is going to make the Swiss Army Knife of leather jackets and become associated with extra-utilitarian clothing. You’d think the Swiss Army Knife company would have done that by now, but they haven’t. So the market is wide open.
22: Posture-correcting jewelry
Bad posture can lead to crippling muscle and bone dysfunctions that become more painful and, on a long enough time scale, potentially lethal. Good posture is something everyone needs to be vigilant of all the time, especially people who already have muscle and bone dysfunctions.
People use bad posture to begin with, because they either don’t know what good posture is, and they forget to think about it. They need a constant reminder. That means they need someone or something to constantly measure their posture and notify them when they’re not holding their body correctly.
The technology exists to put sensors in jewelry that measure distances between itself and objects around it. We can also make jewelry that measures the angle it, and objects around it, are tilted. We can make jewelry that measures your posture and notifies you when your body is off balance by beeping, shaking, flashing, texting, or recording the information in a database for you to look at later, like a Fitbit does.
23: Exoskeleton pants designed to help you stand for long periods of time
In a perfect world, I’d ask for an exoskeleton suit like in the video game Crysis. That kind of technology is still a few years away, but they’re already making expensive, clunky, bulky mech suits, but honestly, I don’t need a mech suit or super soldier exoskeleton, and neither do most people for the same reason most people don’t need an all terrain vehicle: because we live in suburbia and don’t do much. One thing we do an awfully lot of in suburbia though is standing around. A lot of people have to stand around all day at work for decades. They would pay good money for an inconspicuous way to take the weight off their feet.
Make a pair of pants that has a strong, flexible tube sewn into the lateral side of the pant legs. At the ankle, the tube connects to specially designed footwear. At the waist, the tube connects to an underwear harness that’s attached to the pants. The center of the tubes are hollow and have a strong wire running through them. A wire pulley around the waist allows you to pull the wire taut, which compresses the tubes, making them hard, inflexible and able to bear weight. Then you basically hang by your underwear until you loosen the wire that’s holding the external frame rigid.
In order to distribute the weight more you could attach the tubes to your body with additional straps around the ankles and thighs. You could also extend the tubes up the torso where they attach to a chest harness. If the tubes went all the way from your ankles, up over your shoulders and back down to the dorsal side of your feet, you could have more attachments sites all the way up and down your body and have twice as strong of a frame. The most effective design may be to have a full body leotard suit with the exoskeleton tubes sewn through it, but that’s not as discreet as the pants. So if I had to choose between buying the efficient body suit and a less efficient but more inconspicuous pair of exo-pants, I’d probably pick the pants.
24: Utility vests with fully customizeable, interchangeable pockets
Every day millions of workers wear utility vests to work because they have to carry around a lot of stuff with them all day that they need to access quickly. Since every one of these work environments are different, there’s a demand for vests with different amounts, sizes and types of pockets. There are companies that sell vests with strategically placed pockets to meet this demand, but those vests are only perfect for one single type of work environment. Everybody else just has to settle for a vest that fits as many of their requirements as possible. In other words, they’re buying the vest that sucks the least.
Somebody needs to make a utility vest that has the entire front torso area from hip to shoulder covered in Velcro. Then sell a variety of different types and sizes of pockets that have Velcro on the back of them. That way you can buy as many of whatever kind of pockets you need and stick them to your chest exactly where you need them. There may be some combat vests that have limited rearrangeable pockets, but warehouse workers don’t need a tactical military vest that can endure wartime conditions. They just need light weight (and/or warm) vests that don’t get in the way. At any rate, there are no military or civilian vests that are 100% hip-to-shoulder customizeable anyway.
Velcro may not be the best way to attach pockets to vests, especially if you work in a dirty environment. The vest itself could have a magnetic sheet sewn into the front torso, and the pockets could have magnetic sheets sewn in the back of them. There are lots of ways these pockets could attach. Somebody find one that works and make this product so workers can have the right vest for their job.
25: Magnetic stretching gloves and bands
Everyone needs to stretch in order to keep their body working optimally and pain-free, especially couch potato commuters who work long hours at stressful desk jobs. Ideally, you would have a sports therapist who would stretch you out every day. In lieu of that, you have to stretch yourself. Many stretches require you to grab external supports and/or parts of your body. This makes self-stretching inefficient, since gripping, pulling and holding require you to flex muscles in your arms, shoulders, neck and back. Eliminating the need to grip and hold things will significantly reduce the number of muscles you have to flex while stretching.
To achieve this, you could wear hooked or magnetic gloves on your hands, and hooked or magnetic bands around different parts of your body and/or objects around you. You put your hands on the strips, and they hold your hand in place, allowing you to use gravity and tensegrity to pull your muscles without needing to flex the muscles required to grip and hold.
If these stretching devices came with instructions for how to use them to stretch while sitting in an office chair or on the couch, there would fill a huge consumer demand.
26: Appalling Bible verse refrigerator magnet sets
Sell packs of refrigerator magnets that have the worst passages from the Bible on them. These would be popular with rebellious young atheists, and personally, I would buy a few extra sets of these to give to Christians as a way of helping them realize that Christianity is mythology.
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