Friday, December 19, 2008


The public library system is great, offering every book free of charge. One of its only drawbacks is that you have to physically go to the location to pick up a book, and with today’s busy schedules, it can be a real burden. In the same vein, because most people share this dilemma of when-can-I-get-to-the-library-next, it has a ripple effect on all users, making turnovers longer and causing delays on reservations, late charges, etc.

The Idea: public library delivery.

Public library delivery would be an extension of the online systems currently used by most libraries. Users would be able to log on, search for titles, and reserve them - but, instead of having to go to the library to get them, they could elect to have them delivered to their home or office for a nominal fee; on the same note, people could also schedule a delivery pick-up for those which are due. Ideally, the user would schedule one delivery, where they would receive their new books and hand off their old ones which need to be returned. Opponents may argue that one of the defining qualities of a library, and the most attractive, is that it costs nothing; while true, paying for a delivery service would still be much cheaper than paying for the actual book. Further, such a service would complement the current system of picking up books, not replace it, so the user would still be able to choose which method they prefer.

Numerous benefits would result from public library delivery. It would create added revenue for the libraries, which could be put towards the system's infrastructure, as well as lighten the burden for taxpayers. It would create jobs, as branches would need to hire additional people to make the deliveries. And lastly, it would make the system more efficient and foster a quicker turnover, since people would no longer have to schedule a trip to the local branch to receive/return their books.

Public library delivery would even be beneficial for the environment. Rather than many vehicles traveling to and from the library, only a few vehicles would be needed to get people their books. And where feasible, bicycles (similar to those used for takeout - think Upper Crust Pizza delivery) could be used to completely eliminate the use of fossil fuel.

To learn more about public libraries, visit

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Winter is here, which means it is time for coats, gloves, and hats. While hats provide warmth, they also make the common practice of listening to one's ipod that much more difficult. People are constantly fidgeting with their headwear and their earphones, trying to obtain a comfortable setup, but most times, people just grow frustrated and remove one or the other.

The Idea: In-hat headphones.

In-hat headphones would basically be various types of headgear with speakers mounted inside them. Winter hats would have speakers adjustable inside the hat, whereas hunting-style hats and earmuffs would have speakers adjustable within the actual ear piece. In addition, various head pieces could be made with custom pockets to house an ipod, helping to guard it against cord-related mishaps.

In-hat headphones would be useful for commuting, exercising, or any other situation where you find yourself trying to manage the two items separately. Further, by consolidating the two items into one, you would be able to hide the telltale cord and protect yourself from a potential ipod theft.

Other ideas might include collar mounted speakers in winter jackets and backhand mounted speakers on gloves, for people who are averse to headphones in general, but still enjoy music on the go.

To learn more about how to construct your own “headphone hat”, check out

Monday, December 15, 2008


Imagine returning home from vacation, with tan skin and a camera chock full of great pictures; you decide to hold off on uploading them straight to your computer, figuring hey, they're not going anywhere. But then the unthinkable happens, and your camera ends up stolen, misplaced, or damaged. All too often, pictures are lost somewhere in between the taking and the uploading - there must be a more foolproof way of saving each photograph before anything can happen.

The Idea: camera service subscriptions.

Camera service subscriptions would be subscription plans coupled with compatible cameras which would use wireless networks to upload pictures from your camera to a website immediately after being taken. That website could be accessed at any time for editing, archiving, printing, etc. The system could be set up similarly to that of Amazon's Kindle, which allows the user to download books to their Kindle from absolutely anywhere - in this case, the user would be able to upload pictures to their computer from absolutely anywhere. With the subscription, users would be able to take photos with the comfort of knowing that no matter what happens to their camera after that moment - their pictures are already saved and sound.

In addition to the immediate-upload, users would have access to their accounts, with the ability to share photos as they are uploaded. This would benefit individuals, but moreso, it would be ideal for groups and organizations. Construction companies would be able to send pictures from remote job sites back to the office; youth groups would be able to provide parents with instant photos of what their kids are up to; the list goes on...

Finally, the partnership opportunities are plentiful for this venture, as the components for such a service are already widely available (i.e. wireless networks, digital cameras, and online photo sites). Since the companies which produce these components are already established, the race to create the best package would be instant and competitive. This translates into an array of options for the consumer, as these newly-formed partnerships try to outdo one another.

To learn more about digital photography and digital imaging, check out

Friday, December 12, 2008


Going to the movies is truly an experience. There’s nothing quite like ducking into a cinema on a rainy night, standing in line with your date while pointing at the various titles, purchasing a popcorn, soda and candy at the concession stand, filing into the dark theater for two hours with complete strangers, and afterwards, acting as a critic and sharing your opinion.

Unfortunately, movie attendance has been steadily decreasing. Whether the decline is due to an increase in watching movies at home, or from the escalating costs of tickets, Americans are only making an average of 5 trips to the movies per year.

The Idea: movie theater memberships.

Movie theater prices have become quite bloated over the past couple of years, with an average ticket jumping from $6.75 in 2000 to the $10+ adult price we see today. And while people may be frequenting the movies less often, the theaters are still showing the same number of movies, still maintaining the same operating costs, and still offering the same concessions.

By offering movie theater memberships, you would be guaranteeing revenue, and the system in place would give members the perk of being able to reserve seats in advance, thus driving up the demand for tickets as well. More tickets equal more trips to the concession stand, where movie theaters can continue with their giant markups: this also translates into a profit which does not need to be shared with the motion picture industry.

Those who become members would receive membership cards, which could be swiped before the purchase of tickets, concessions, or even arcade games at the theater. The membership could come with a special member discount on certain food items and arcade games, enticing people to buy something or play something they previously would not have. More importantly, this swiping could also be used to produce valuable information, such as member’s movie preferences, time preferences, and even concession preferences – such information would be useful research for both marketing and advertising agencies.

To learn more about movie theater economics, check out

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


What’s the best part of fast food? Bag fries, of course. Even those unfamiliar with the term are surely familiar with the concept: the French fries which fall out of their containers at every drive-thru, usually resulting in a fight over who gets to keep the bag with the bonus fries.

The Idea: menu item bag fries.

Fast food restaurants could offer bag fries as a new item on both their drive-thru and in-store menus. The bag fries would be an order of small fries (usually included as part of value menus already), just without a container. Instead of packing the fries into a paper vessel, the employee would just toss them into the take-out bag. This Idea would bring consistency to a process that has been known to take customers on a roller coaster ride of emotions.

There would be multiple benefits for the restaurants, the consumers, and even the environment. At a time where people are tightening their belts (financially) and watching their waistlines, restaurants could capitalize on the novelty and profit that an extra dollar per order would provide, while at the same time allowing customers the perception of not really ordering a small fry. The consumers would benefit by being able to opt for an order of bag fries over a larger container-bound order, costing them both less money and less calories. Lastly, the environment would benefit from the decrease in container use.

Opponents may argue that the joy of bag fries is discovering them at the bottom and that their uncertainty is their allure. One could dispute this opinion with the distressed jeans argument: jeans become distressed, but people buy pre-distressed jeans because it is a guarantee to get the look that they want; bag fries may occur, but people would buy bag fries because again, it is a guarantee to get the quantity that they want.

To learn more about the potential benefits of fast food innovation, check out

Monday, December 8, 2008


City roofs seem to be barren expanses of rubber and metal, littered with air units and exhaust piping. Recently however, and especially in areas of green construction, plants and vegetation have been sprouting up on new buildings’ roofs. These plants provide numerous benefits, both to the building and to the environment, but could vegetation atop buildings become even more advantageous?

The Idea: rooftop nurseries.

Rooftop nurseries would be an extension of green roofs, but would be available atop standard buildings (both commercial and residential) as well. Rooftop nurseries would be, quite simply, regular nurseries housed on city roofs. The vegetation could range from houseplants and flower bouquets to full blown vegetable gardens and starter trees. They would provide many of the benefits a green building's roof provides, while simultaneously encouraging many economic benefits. Rooftop nurseries would create opportunities for businesses and employment, as well as opportunities for increases in locally grown products; further, they would give an aesthetic boost to downtrodden neighborhoods.

A variation could be to free up valuable metropolitan real estate. In many cities, there are a number of gardens – often spanning entire blocks - which are tended to by residents. Perhaps the owner could choose to sell the land their garden is on in exchange for a plot on their roof, where their plants and vegetables could be relocated. This would benefit everyone involved, since it would allow the developer to create profitable housing, commercial real estate, or a mix of both; it would allow the residents to maintain the gardens, with the possibility of increased growth due to the new altitude and unguarded sun; and the city would bask in the economic, environmental, and public relations benefits that would come along with brokering such a deal.

To learn more about existing rooftop vegetation projects, check out

Friday, December 5, 2008


'Tis the season for a friend, relative or significant other to ask what you'd like for the holidays. Most people tend to pause and reply with an ambiguous, "Hmm, I'm not sure," regardless of whether they have something in mind or not. This doesn't just happen during the holiday season; birthdays, graduations, anniversaries – any present-worthy occasion is awkward whether you are giving or receiving, not to mention the time and energy spent trying to find the perfect gift. The only events that do not pose this problem are those for which registries exist - so why not just register for everyday life?

The Idea: an everyday registry.

The same way wedding and baby registries work, an everyday registry would be a website and/or application which would allow the user to create a personal wish list, with links to the stores selling each item. Along with the price, the user would be able to rate each item on level of want, event appropriateness, etc. The site/application would aid gift-giving for everything from a small thank-you to a big 50th birthday.

The Idea would be perfect for a facebook application, as it would allow the user to easily share and access both their registry and the registries of their friends. In addition, the marketing opportunites are abundant. The information provided by someone when selecting items for their registry could be used by ad agencies to target those same people for similiar products; in addition, that information could provide information to companies regarding the popularity and interest in a given product.

To learn more about building an application for facebook, check out

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


When you receive an iTunes gift card, do you sit down at your computer and blindly flip through song after song wondering what to pick? What happened to the old days, when people went to the store, turned over a cd, recognized a song or two, and looked forward to hearing the rest? Or what about those who wonder what new, underground music their favorite artist purchases when they use an iTunes gift card?

The Idea: iTunes suggestion cards.

iTunes suggestion cards would be normal iTunes giftcards with suggested songs printed on them. For example, a $10 iTunes card would have 12-15 songs listed on them, and the recipient would be able to use those cards to help choose their music, or be free to ignore them as well. The cards could be holiday specific (i.e. a Christmas Carol iTunes card) or decade specific (think hits from the 80's). They could list a specific artist's favorite songs, or they could just be a collection of the latest pop songs (a la the Now Thats What I Call Music Series, Volumes 1 through 2,400). The possibilities are endless.

There is enormous potential for cross-promotion with this Idea. Radio stations could release compilations, organizations could put together benefit cards (with a portion of the proceeds going towards charity), and local musicians in certain areas could band together to promote their 'scene'... the list goes on.

Another option for this Idea would be the ability to create custom iTunes cards. This would allow users to purchase giftcards and create their own suggested playlist to be listed on the front. Replacing the masking-tape labeled cassette, and the somehow seemingly less-authentic burned cd, customized iTunes gift cards could be the new mix tape.

To learn more about what partnership opportunities are already available with iTunes, check out

Monday, December 1, 2008


How many times have you tried to make your way through a crowded bar, only to have your drink bumped a a dozen times, leaving you with half the liquid you started out with? How about a packed restaurant, sloshing red wine all over your white shirt - or even worse, your date's white shirt? Or how often have you held multiple beverages at a concert, making your way back to your seat with fervent apologies for spilling on every person you squeeze pass in the row? Lastly, and on a bit more of a serious note, how many times have you felt uncomfortable leaving an open drink unattended or carrying an open drink through a crowded establishment?

The Idea: increased lid use.

Dumping half your drink on the floor or having a beer dumped down your blouse is bound to put a damper on the evening, no pun intended. Increased lid use would just transfer the methods used for soft drinks and juices and apply them to drinks that are often served in an open receptacle. The lids could be made in various sizes from recycled paper or plastic, and they could be available with or without straw holes, depending on the venue.

To offset the additional cost, lids could be made into valuable advertising space, informing the patron of everything from recycling tips to bar specials to a new television show aimed at the establishment's core demographics. (Picture the cardboard coasters you find at many bars/restaurants already).

Increased lid use would be beneficial for everyone involved: patrons would be able to save themselves the aforementioned stresses that come with transporting open drinks; establishments would be able to claim a safer environment, as well as be able to promote upcoming events and specials; advertisers would gain yet another medium for which to target very specific demographics.

The next time you're at a sporting event, maneuvering two beers and a couple of hot dogs back to your seat, pausing awkwardly to sip from both brim-filled cups, (think dripping ice-cream cone on sweltering summer day), imagine how much easier life would be with a lid.

To learn more about potential partners for a company focused on increased lid use, check out

Friday, November 28, 2008


When traveling, friends, families, and sometimes even strangers run into the age old problem of trying to share one media device between two people; whether it is an ipod, a laptop, a portable dvd player, or even an old school walkman, the problem is always the same - a single headphone jack and four eager ears. Sure, you can try to split a pair of headphones with someone else, but all you end up with is mediocre sound and an awkward physical closeness. Oh, and the one indiviudal who always forgets what is going on and inadvertently jerks the other bud out of their companion's ear.

The Idea: a quad-budded set of headphones.

Although fairly straightforward, a quad-budded set of headphones would be a simple, yet much-needed, innovation. The headphones would come with plenty of slack to avoid the aforementioned awkward closeness, as well as a device for disabling and storing one half of the set for solo use. Although the headphones seem as though they would work best in the bud format (think ipod headphones), there could always be a more traditional, dual headphone as well, with a split wire.

Quad-budded headphones would also be welcomed by parents during these economic times, as it would allow them to purchase half as many media devices, with all their children still being pleased. Opponenets might argue that this is a recipe for disaster, as the situation would foster conflict between siblings; instead, view the situation as an opportunity to promote sharing, negotiation and bonding. What traveling is all about.

To learn more about travel appropriate headphones, check out

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


How many times have you used a gift card and been left with a balance, although not enough of a balance to actually purchase something else? You can either supplement the remainder with your own cash for an item you don't even need, or you can opt to save it for next time, stashing the card in the back of your wallet or bag, never to be used again.

The Idea: gift card balance donations.

After completing a transaction, the cashier would ask, "Would you like to donate the remaining balance to cause (x)?" If a person elects to donate what is left on their gift card, a button would be keyed and the remaining money would be charged to (x) charitable account. Merchants could offer a variety of causes and funds, giving the customer the ability to choose who they would like to help. Should merchants worry that too many of these gift card balances were going towards donations rather than sales, then they could easily make a policy that only gift card balances under a certain amount (i.e. $4) could be donated. - it doesnt make sense. it makes it sound as though you havent thought it out, or worse, you dont understand how gift cards work

This system would benefit all parties involved. The customer would be able to donate money which may have previously gone unused, or, on the same note, the customer wouldn't feel compelled to spend additional money of their own just to "get rid of" the remaining $3. For businesses, they would be able to boost both their image and their amount of charitable donations – a win-win situation. Lastly, and most importantly, deserving causes would be able to receive aid from previously untapped sources – retail, restaurants and hospitality.

To learn more about deserving charities that could benefit from this system, check out

Monday, November 24, 2008


If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a break truck is a large, insulated vehicle which visits construction sites or remains parked on a city street: it offers an array of snacks and other typical break-food fare, including the omnipresent staple of mediocre coffee. Essentially, it is a vending machine on wheels. If you're just looking for a bag of chips, there are all the major brands, but if you're hungry for a fresh donut, breakfast sandwich, or even just a strong, familiar coffee – you are usually out of luck.

The Idea: co-branded break trucks.

Co-branded break trucks would partner small, local break truck operators with a large-chain coffee shop (i.e. Dunkin Donuts): the result would be brand-name beverages, pastries, and sandwiches instead of just Frito’s and Snickers.

The partnership would be beneficial for both parties - the truck owners would see an increase in business due to customers reacting to the familiarity, and the brands would get an increased presence in areas where they may not have physical stores. Synergy.

An ancillary benefit would be savings for employers, since their employees would no longer need to travel to the nearest franchise of choice: that transportation time can now be turned into productivity.

To learn more about break trucks and what it takes to run a successful break truck business, check out

Friday, November 21, 2008


How often have you found yourself walking home alone, susceptible to danger? Be it in the suburbs or the city, during the night or the afternoon, it is never wise to travel solo, especially if you are a young woman. These days, most people call a friend or significant other, imploring them to "just stay on the phone with me? I am only a couple of blocks away." But what about those times that nobody answers, and your only sense of protection comes from the street lights scattered on every pitch-black corner?

The Idea: a Cellular Safety Service.

The service would require the caller to dial an easy-to-remember number which would connect them with a representative, who would immediately pinpoint their location, as well as have access to dialing 911 in the event of an emergency. The caller would not be put on hold with an automated machine; rather, the caller would be one-on-one with the rep the entire time, feeling just as secure as they would if the person on the other end was their close friend. A Cellular Safety Service would be useful for everyone, from a mall employee who has to walk across a deserted parking lot after closing, to someone making their way home from a friend's house in the middle of the night.

The service could be funded by public funds (as part of a public safety initiative), by advertising revenues (the Cellular Safety Service representative would perform live-reads – similar to radio disc jockeys - for various products and services while on the phone), or ideally, a combination of both.

Some might argue there is no need for this service - that people in trouble could just call 911 themselves. Unfortunately, when an incident occurs, it is sudden and forceful, making it very unlikely that the victim would have the time or capacity to dial anything at all. A Cellular Safety Service would be about a proactive, rather than reactive, approach.

To learn more about government grants which could potentially be used to fund such a program, check out

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Hiccups would take first place for “Most Annoying (yet minor) Ailment.” Placing a close second on the list would undoubtedly be a burnt tongue. Think of every time you have attempted the near-fatal first-sip, bracing yourself for the steaming liquid, and then cursing as your taste buds catch fire, remaining numb for the rest of the day. What if there was a way to know when your coffee was warm, yet not scalding… when your hot chocolate was tepid, yet not torrid? Instead of blowing on the surface of your tea and wondering whether it was cool enough, what if you could just look at the cup and know?

The Idea: hot beverage temp-tellers

Practically all hot beverages come with labels warning customers about their potential heat and the consequences that could result from that heat. In addition to that warning label (for liability purposes), temp-teller stickers would be affixed to all hot beverage cups as well.

A hot (red) to cold (blue) gradient, the sticker would react to the heat and let the customer know how warm the beverage was, so the customer would be able to either take a sip or let it cool. Conversely, if someone felt their coffee was too cold, they could pop it in the microwave and heat it back up. The sticker would have degrees listed on the left side of the gradient, with coinciding, user-friendly terms listed on the right (i.e. “boiling,” “hot,” “warm,” etc).

If successful, this Idea could be used on other products: of particular note are baby bottles. The temp-tellers could also be sold in a self-adhesive pack (think stamps), perfect for a bowl of soup or a mug of tea at home.

To learn more about temperature indicating products, check out the labels available at

Monday, November 17, 2008


Weekend mornings are usually reserved for running errands, leaving your wallet void of cash and filling it instead with crinkled receipts. Most likely, you’ll toss the entire wad of slips into the trash, and more often than not, you will end up cursing yourself when your new large sweater barely fits over your head.

The Idea: emailed receipts, or e-ceipts.

After paying by credit or debit, you would be able to opt out of the paper receipt, and instead, receive an emailed receipt that would show up in your online banking, as well as your inbox, in a form similar to a cashed check. It would be placed adjacent to the transaction, and you would be able to examine, print and/or contest the purchase from that image. In the event that you paid with cash, the clerk would simply ask for your email address, and the same form of emailed receipt would be sent directly to your inbox.

For the consumer, this would eliminate lost receipts, pocket/wallet clutter, and guilt from wasting processed paper.

For the business, this would drastically streamline the record-keeping process, as well as prevent sales associates from dealing with disgruntled customers trying to make returns sans receipt.

For the greater good, as alluded to above, the savings in terms of paper use would be immeasurable.

To learn more about the technological solutions available to, and currently being explored for, retailers, check out NCR’s retail page.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Ever feel like everyone else is lifting more than you at the gym?

You know the feeling - you glance around and it seems like everyone, even the old folks, are stronger than you.

The Idea: the Confidence Gym.

The Confidence Gym would be an area within a regular gym or health club, ideally situated in front of a window so passersby could watch, with the remaining walls completely mirrored for self reflection - literally. The room would be stocked with dummy-weights, all of which would appear identical to the regular ones, but would only weigh a fraction of the actual listed weight.

For users, this would increase confidence, amplify their motivation, and provide them with a greater sense of self-worth. The end goal would be to use that extra confidence towards tackling the weights in the regular gym.

To learn more about self confidence, check out

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


When you travel or move to a new place, deciphering public transportation can be one of the foremost frustrations you have to deal with; heck, it is often just as confusing for your neighbor who has lived in the city for years! Learning about buses, trains, subways and their various routes, not to mention their respective schedules, is like navigating blind through a forest.

Once you finally manage to map out a daily commute, it is only a matter of time before meetings, appointments and social events will pop up, throwing your carefully-planned schedule off. You’ll be forced to re-examine the entire system, scouring websites, pamphlets and graffitied glass walls, just for a vehicle to take you home. There has to be a simpler way.

The Idea: a public transportation finder/scheduler.

There would be a website and/or application where all one would have to do would be to input the following: their location, their schedule, and their desired destination(s). The easy-to-use interface would then produce the available modes of public transportation, as well as their locations, routes and times. In addition, the website and/or application could be set up to cull appointments from, and to sync with, one's Google and/or Outlook calendars, making the process even more seamless: the results would then be sent to one’s mobile device for updates and reminders.

One more benefit? The ease and convenience of this program would help advance the ‘Green’ movement, promoting the use of public transportation over personal automobiles.

To learn more about the benefits of public transportation check out

Monday, November 10, 2008


Typical male grooming requires 1-2 haircuts a month, which can be difficult to maintain with a busy schedule and a hefty workload. Further, there are often instances when all that’s needed is a quick trim or cleanup, not a whole cut, which again, can be too much of a hassle to squeeze into a crowded week.

With men's haircuts starting around $20, the costs can quickly add up, forcing the individual to either seek amateur help or to forego a trim altogether. What if you could pay an annual fee and have access to haircuts - and just as importantly, cleanups - any time you wanted?

The Idea: haircut memberships.

The business model would be similar to other memberships (for example, the gym) where two things would happen: the balance of under-users and over-users would result in a profit for the salon; and conversely, committing to one salon for a year would result in reduced rates per cut - a profit for the client. Lastly, this model could be modified for women as well, with tailored memberships offered in order to provide the additional services females require (i.e. blow-dries, highlights, etc).

To learn more about the potential for haircut memberships, check out The Barbershop Lounge, or to get more information regarding getting a great haircut, finding a barber, or shaving and skin care, visit

Friday, November 7, 2008


It always seems to rain the hardest when you least expect it and when you’re least prepared - and of course, when you're without an umbrella. How many days have been sunny and clear until 5 o’clock and then bam! - Just as you leave work, the sky opens up? How many nights have been cool and clear until you find yourself soaked and frizzed, in the midst of an erratic downpour? And although most people own umbrellas, they never seem to have them when it matters, being forced to either a) get wet, or b) get wet walking to the nearest store for a new one.

While carrying an umbrella around 24/7 might seem both simple and pragmatic, it isn’t. For the most part, men don’t use purses, and women’s handbags are rarely large enough to stash a whole umbrella. Is there no weatherproof solution for accidentally leaving an umbrella at the bar or getting caught outside without so much as a hood?

The Idea: disposable umbrellas.

Essentially a larger, rain-shielding version of the mini-parasols found in tropical drinks, disposable umbrellas would be small, lightweight, and good for a one-time use. They would be sold in packs of two (for getting there and back) at convenience stores, pharmacies, and within vending machines; if successful, office buildings and other high-traffic venues (i.e. restaurants, hotels, theatres, etc.) could also make them available.

To some, the word disposable is immediately associated with waste. To combat this fear and related criticisms, disposable umbrellas would be made from recycled materials such as plastics, metals, and paper - or a combination of all three; in addition, a percentage of each sale could be donated to an organization aimed at helping the environment. The amount donated would surely offset the cost of recycling a discarded umbrella.

To learn more about advances already made towards creating disposable umbrellas, check out patents 5069237 and 6237615 – please note, the patent is for the specific design, not the Idea itself.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


A remote starter is a veritable miracle on a bitter-cold, winter morning, defrosting your windshield and warming the car while you remain inside brushing your teeth: unless, of course, your car is parked across the street, or any other reasonable distance which exceeds your immediate driveway. While working wonders from home (if you have a driveway, that is), remote starters are utterly useless from an office building a few blocks away, a restaurant a couple streets over, or any other place you might find yourself far-from-car during the cold, dark months.

The Idea: a TRUE remote starter.

Using technology which would be accessible via internet and cell phone, one would be able to start their car from practically anywhere, as well as have the ability to unlock the doors, control the temperature, and cue up some music. Just like traditional auto-starters, the car would still require the insertion of a key, or security code, before it could actually be driven.

The TRUE remote starter could also double as a security device, providing phone and email alerts should the car suffer any damage from an attempted theft, a break-in, or an inter-parking-lot hit and run.

To read more about starting cars via cell phones visit

Monday, November 3, 2008


Sunscreen application is one of the less enjoyable aspects of a trip to the beach - unless applied by a scantily-clad, firm-bodied friend of course. That being said, numerous attempts have been aimed at easing the process (i.e. non-greasy lotions, spray bottles, aerosols), yet all have fallen short of success, leaving sunscreen as the proverbial 'sand-in-the-shorts' of today's beachgoer.

The Idea: spray 'screening.

Using the same technology as spray tanning (see also: airbrush tanning), there would be booths set up at the beach where one would deposit money (cash or credit), select an SPF (tanning oil included), and receive a quick and thorough, mist-applied layer of sunscreen. The spray 'screening would promote skin safety, as well as a nice, even tan - a win-win situation!

This Idea would be most effective at high traffic beaches, with portable booths situated atop the seawall or on the boardwalk; booths could also be placed more permanently in beachfront shops, where spray 'screening would be offered alongside towels, sand toys, and other ocean fare.

Spray 'screening is also an ideal candidate for an exercise in competitive branding; just as Coca-Cola and Pepsi products vie, so could Coppertone and Banana Boat.

To learn more about lotion-spraying mist-applicators, check out these various applicators for spray tanning.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Picture this. You and your significant other are embarking on a weekend trip to New York, and your Greyhound is leaving at 7AM. After assuring her you have indeed printed not one - but two copies of the tickets, you arrive at South Station with bags, snacks… and no tickets. Those are at home on the printer.

Everyone has a story similar to above - e-tickets which have been forgotten or lost along the way. And short of installing public computers (with printers) on every street corner, there’s no easy fix.

The Idea: c-tickets.

In layman’s terms, tickets purchased and/or printed in a cab.

Utilizing the touch screen/credit card payment technologly that already exists in many cabs, and in conjunction with novel inkless-printing innovation (such as Massachusetts-based Zink Corporation), passengers could browse travel or entertainment options and print their tickets immediately after purchasing. Similarly, they could access their email and print out tickets purchased beforehand. Since this Idea only calls for the addition of a printer to an already existing infrastructure, it would be relatively simple to put into Action.

To learn more about inkless printing, visit In a ZINK World.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Detergent can be a real hassle for the average homeowner, whether you oversud, run out of Tide mid-wash, or just simply don’t remember to fill the dishwasher dispenser at all. Regardless of your soap mishap, there must be an easier way to automate soap distribution and eliminate human error.

The Idea: detergent-dispensing washers.

Similar to filling a gas tank, one would be able to fill up a detergent reservoir for their dishwasher or washing machine. For every cycle, an appropriate amount of detergent would be released. This automatic distribution would save the consumer both time and money, as well as prevent them from the aforementioned slew of detergent-related frustrations. Further, it would benefit the consumer to purchase detergent in bulk, which would also prove to be quite cost-effective.

New washing machines would come with this feature: those with older models could choose to purchase an easy-install adapter.

Imagine waking up Monday morning, driving to the nearest gas station, and filling your tank with just enough gas to get to and from work. Now imagine having to repeat that process Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday... Every commute requires a trip to the pump.

However ridiculous sounding, that essentially describes our current - albeit antiquated - method of ‘fueling’ our washers. Drivers don’t fill their gas tanks with a one-tank/one-trip mentality; unfortunately, this is exactly the wasteful method we subscribe to when we fill our machines with a subjective amount of detergent, good for one load. People are continually plagued with dirty dishes and dirty laundry; why not make domestic life that much easier?

To see side-by-side comparisons of recent dishwashers, check out

Monday, October 20, 2008


On average there are 21,351 mining accidents in the United States every year- and that’s just the U.S. In addition to the fatalities, there are an enormous number of health problems, all of which are a direct result of this dangerous job.

The Idea: robot miners.

Currently, there are robots which clean our homes, replace our pets, and defend our country; thus, it is safe to say we'd be able to create a robot that can explore, drill, and retrieve elements from the earth. By doing so, we would turn mining into an extremely safe and efficient industry, eliminating thousands of deaths each year.

Opponents may argue that this would result in immediate unemployment for current human miners. However, this argument fails to account for the new positions which would be made available in the fields of robot, and robot factory, management. In addition, the overwhelming benefits to the former miners’ health - both mentally and physically - cannot be overlooked or undervalued.

To learn more about robots and robotic innovation, check out these links:

Marshall Brain's Robotic Nation Series


Saturday, October 18, 2008


From the title, Ideas Not Action, some might get the impression that we are discouraging Action, and well, this could not be further from the truth. We are providing Ideas with the hopes that the Action will soon follow - that individuals will take these Ideas, apply Action to them, and Innovation will result.

Ideas + Action = Innovation

We are simply focusing our efforts on the first half, on the Ideas.

Now, the Ideas put forth will not all be original, will not all be groundbreaking, will not always be feasible, but then again, Ideas do not have to be. Our goal is to promote discussion, to procure thoughts and insights from a wide range of people, and to present this information as such.

One way to think about these posts is as individual case studies - Why does an Idea seem like it would work? Why does an Idea seem like it would fail? What would be the best way to apply Action? What would people's reactions be if Action were taken? And who, if anyone, would benefit?

We encourage you to respond to the Ideas, to reply with your thoughts, your feelings, and your reactions, and to help us develop these Ideas further. Our growth is dependent on your participation, so please, poke around and let us know what you think - about both the Ideas, and the site in general.

Please direct any Ideas, feedback, questions, or concerns, to: