Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cling Printer

I'm again sure this exists, but there should be a way to print my own "cling" decals for my car window, home window, etc. I need more bird silhouettes for my windows and I don't want to pay $5.00 each. Should be able to do it on my laser printer, eh? Maybe I just need a particular kind of plastic cling...

5mph Car Compactor!

Perhaps only for cars that are a bit older or are rated for higher speed crashes that don't crumple the bumper: If your car goes 5mph and weighs 3,000 lbs or more, I'm sure you could rig up some kind of contraption that used all that power to compact your trash/recycling/compost. It should be made of semi-rigid memory foam (like my Tempur-Pedic pillow). It could be suspended by cables at the back of your garage. You load up the "box" made of memory foam with your squishables and gently ram your car's bumper into it. Voila!

OCR system for cellphones

Optical Character Recognition is processor intensive, but we've got more power and more room with the newer smartphones to pull it off. Use the camera to take a snap of text, have the OCR system decode it. If my Palm Phone could read my handwriting (like my old Apple Newton could circa 1993), then I'm sure with a little processing power (and maybe a SIM card) it could translate my own handwritten text into real text. A scanner is a camera, so the better the camera's (my iPhone has 2.0 megapixel camera) resolution, the better the scan. I'm sure they'll upgrade this as things move along technologically. It's only a matter of time and engineering...:)

DVD marking using the DVD laser

I'm not alone when I complain that it's hard to tell from the front of a blank CD if it's been used already. I'm sure it can't be that hard to make the laser in the DVD reader zap a specific dot on the disc (perhaps with a small, thin, fragile coating) that renders the disc "used" or pristine. Maybe it goes just on the inside rim of the disc, perhaps zapping a stutter pattern around the inner rim as the marker. A new DVD reader/writer might be required, but as long as you're at it, make the laser be able to vary in intensity and be able to use a special disc that lets you print out text on the disc as well. Heck, build a new DVD reader that also is a printer for the thing.

Does it work?

A simple website that allows you to describe a problem, then gives you a place to vote on which solution works, and if needed, why it works. This is done in terms of talkback postings, but it requires me to scroll through (and read through) lots of posts that sometimes have good data and sometimes (often) do not. I like the "stars" idea that some sites use, but I want it even simpler: an up or down vote on x solution working or not. The more votes, the more it rises on the scoreboard. If you want to check the chatter on the topic, it would be in a different window or down below the ratings. Specifically coming to mind, does a pacifier work for calming baby? Does Gripe Water really cure colic? I just want to see 300 people saying yes or no.

Homework Crowd Sourcing

Okay, I'm sure that one could use Facebook for this in some way, but I think there should be a specific site that allows kids who are working on projects to work on them with other kids, in real time. Not that the kids should cheat from each other, but that they should learn from each other. Kids should always be able to explain how they got from x to y idea, and that would be one bit of required proof of their understanding. Truth is, sometimes the kids are grouped on projects with other kids that can't help them or refuse to do the work. They should be able to log onto the homework site and go to a category and see who's in the "study hall" on that topic, then share ideas with them. It's like real life, and it's a skill they will definitely use the moment they are out of school. Many of them already do this haphazardly, might as well make it understood and accepted.

Open Source Baby

Open Source, Baby! Aww, Yeah! What I mean by that is I think that although I personally would love to "make a million dollars" profiteering in the baby accoutrement world, that won't be good for the world. What would be good is for everyone who is trying to make tons of money on a new baby gadget to put that effort out there for everyone to use, for free. Sounds heretical in a lot of ways, but I think that a great deal of even my own innovation is stifled by the idea of making money from it. Paradoxical, I suppose. Maybe if you must make money from these great baby ideas, you should vow to put a percentage of profit towards developing countries and their babies' well-being. Take a look at Babies R Us and you'll see what I'm talking about. In addition, new baby stuff should be as recycled and earth-friendly as possible. The tons of plastic we use to make things for babies is hurting the planet that those babies must be raised in. Surely, people should make a decent living from their labor, but putting another cheaper plastic teething ring with a slightly different animal on it doesn't make babies lives better or the planet any healthier. Let's do better by our children.

Incadescent Bulb Re-use

Here's an idea that isn't yet. People are told that they need to change to CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb) in their home lighting, but they are no dummies...they know that waste is they say "I'm waiting until my bulbs burn out to replace them". The truth is that replacing them immediately is better than waiting for them to burn out. Why? They use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Save about $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb's lifetime. Produce about 75 percent less heat, so they're safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling. So what do we do with the old bulbs?

Take them to a dedicated facility that will crush them up and put them in....
* asphalt for streets
* melt them and make low-grade glass (the bases would be gravity-sorted out)
* slag for foundations in construction

I'm really not sure what would be optimal, but there needs to be a particular thing or set of things that dead incandescents get turned into. It's important to people that they know what a thing gets recycled into, it helps them visualize the reason for the recycling. Any ideas on this thread would be great.