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.