CONCEPTUAL IDEA EMPPORIUM
The following are a series of mostly half baked ideas I’ve come up with over the course of my life, some as young as probably 10 or 11 years old. I haven't managed to capture all of them by any means, but the theme seems to be: I’m not satisfied with the status quo and think we have plenty of room to continue improving things. If you or someone you know is working in one of these areas, or in search of an idea and like something you see here please reach out. To the extent that the ideas are fleshed out they have been publicly disclosed on this site, thus they are not patentable and thus there is no fear of anyone exercising a legal right to exclude us from working on them. In other words, they are open source and free to take to make the world a better place. If anyone does take one though, let me know, I probably have a lot more thoughts on the topic than what is given here maybe I can help you make it a reality. I just want to see them used to improve the world around us.
You’ll have to excuse me some of this is written in broken sentences as I dictated many of these notes to my phone, sometimes very quickly without reading back over it. Also my SketchUp skills were very rudimentary when I put together the few designs I have on here (I had more at one point but lost some of them to the ether of the digital world); they are simply quick mockups that will hopefully work in conjunction with the text to illustrate the idea.
Worth noting that most of these are NOT new ideas. Many have been talked about in sci-fi for decades if not more. There is an implicit question given their listing here of can we build a compelling version of this, with current technology, and will people pay more than it cost to develop and operate?
This is a bit meta to start with but imagine a biz running a database with all sorts of ideas like the ones on this page, and then each idea has a few critical metrics that need to reach such and such threshold for the idea to work and be compelling, and those metrics are constantly updated by an algorithm that is scraping info online from companies and researchers that work in domain to determine when either the performance metrics have gotten good enough or the cost has gotten low enough to make the given idea feasible.
Crowd Source DJ combo of text-in word cloud generator like sli.do and 8tracks-type music app. For groups of people from 10-10,000. Majority rules but the minority still gets influence. And the music changes as mood and preferences change with the group, and throughout the night. Think of it like a jukebox that everyone gets to participate in instead of one or two people DJing the whole night. This actually already exists in various forms from Spotify Premium, Apple Music, SoundShare, Flo, Jukebox Air, but they all suck in my experience.
Next Gen Marketing/Advertising that isn’t so intrusive, sales-y, gross, annoying… Simple phone-based app where you point your camera at someone and it pops up with information that person wants displayed about themselves. Key phrase “what that person wants displayed”. Specifically this would provide a less intrusive form of marketing at conferences or events or just meeting new people in general. Could be Augmented Reality or an interface that tells you their location so you can find people working on relevant projects or with similar interests.
Car cooler Can we solve the problem of hot cars cooking in the sun? That’s a lot of energy being generated… How bout a solar panel that could be folded up and stored inside a car, and then deployed quickly to act as a sun shade for the car.
Or build some sort of thermoelectric device into the car’s interior. I came up with this idea after one day getting hit by that wall of heat (energy) when you enter a really hot car. Thought it would be really cool if you incorporated thermoelectrics into the interiors. Also think the interior should be made out of totally different material anyway instead of that petro-based crap plastic that’s probably giving off a small but steady stream of VOCs… The solar panel seems easier technologically.
Cellphone of the Future A modular, upgradable, and unfoldable cell phone made with conflict-free minerals. Some features would include: upgradeable components, some sort of biometric lock, a thinly stacked screen that you pull out from the size of a wristwatch to a cubit foot or more as technology improves, lightweight, OLED screen. Or now with a Blade Shadow remote PC available to any screen with a basic OS and internet connection let's just throw screens conveniently around places so you can just login to a “TV” that’s on the wall and start using it as your screen.
Immersive Gaming A gaming experience that allows you to feel like you’re staring in your own action movie but also includes literally all types of video games. Similar to Total Recall, but it’s not an implanted memory, it’s #VR. It would be first person shooter at times, grand theft auto style at times, romance at others, puzzles, comedy with more depth than any RPG and crowdsourced scenarios and response options for NPCs. Could include advanced “transparent” parental controls for innapropriate content. You set the length and difficulty of each game, you can do a 1-4 hour experience similar to a movie, or something that goes on for longer periods of time like episodes of a show.
Generate energy while cooling your home. An air conditioner that turns thermal energy into electrical energy - as thermoelectric generators (TEGs) do. As these are open sourced/become cheaper and more efficient, hopefully this option will become more viable.
Build with Bamboo: Weave together bamboo fibers and seal them in natural resin. Strong #building #material or strongest building material? A new take on cross laminated timber. If you got bamboo poles wet and used some sort of big roller press could you separate out the individual fibers or small groups of fibers to facilitate the weaving process?
Plastic Islands Turn trash in #pacificgarbagepatch into floating platforms to build ocean farming operations off of zero water, zero fertilizer, #co2. Or expand on that idea and build full-on cities. Like Spiral Island on steroids. Start by putting @PreciousPlasMx on a boat & automating them to turn the Great Pacific Garbage Patch into a spiraling ribbon of plastic that can be used as a substrate to build upon. Next layer could be a @bioMASON-like bacteria to suck CO2 out of the air and make a solid material. At this point if the structure were large enough it would probably be sufficiently stable for traditional construction (or 3D print buildings using something like @ApisCor3D, but ideally using a lower embodied energy Roman cement as opposed to Portland cement, or #carbonnegative #hempcrete, then spray with the BioMason bacteria to make them even more carbon negative and structurally stronger). Given that 8 out of the 10 largest cities in the world are located on the coast. The whole climate change thing will likely hit them the hardest and the ability to create more usable land that floats could be very useful, plus if you build them off the coast of those cities they could potentially absorb a significant amount of storm surge. But this could be used on land as well and I think it is possible to build (or maybe grow) "stone" houses/buildings out of some combination of bacterially "grown" bricks like BioMason makes, self-healing concrete, hempcrete, or Roman cement inoculated with the either the BioMason bacteria or the self-healing concrete bacteria.
Teachers of the past Imagine uploading all the lectures, papers, interviews, video content, books, essays etc. of people like Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan, Sir Ken Robinson etc. into a computer program that synthesizes their voice (and ideally produces a hologram or VR avatar) and uses all that content to teach people about their respective subjects, hopefully with advanced natural language processing AI. Then sell it to schools to augment the overworked, outnumbered, underpaid, poorly trained real-life teachers. Imagine summoning Feynman’s ghost to ask a question about surface dynamics and get that one of a kind Feynman explanation that ignites your imagination. How amazing would it be to have Nikola Tesla or Isaac Newton to bounce ideas off?! #holographicteacher
Bar Chart Earth An algorithm that scrapes the web for info on important planetary metrics which is displayed as a graph withthe value of every single commodity (fiscal and monetary measurement, crime, poverty, and mental illness statistic, marijuana arrest etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum) on the x-axis. A simple bar chart with generic “number” on the y-axis. It would be totally relative, as in $700 trillion in derivatives all the way up there, down to one single planet earth on the other end of the spectrum. It would be a fun tool to help in decision making and creating a world-view informed by reality, catered to the interests of the user #informationtechnology
NextGen 3D Modeling. Combining Google SketchUp (or any 3d modeling software) with Microsoft Kinect, Thalmic labs wristband, Oculus Rift (or Vive), and a 3D scanner. In this setting metal would be like playdough.
Conext: I just saw a crowdfunding campaign for a fan, which in the central housing has hardware to cool or heat air with hollow fan blades that efficiently distribute air around a room. Ok great idea first off because it would be way more energy efficient than typical HVAC systems. But the inventor’s prototype is not very aesthetically pleasing, the campaign doesn’t appear to be going well and the whole thing could use some marketing. She mentions concert venues as one of the places it could be used and my mind went to outdoor concerts and having them not hung from the ceiling but coming up from the ground, and with various cool/artistic designs you could use to make them more attractive. Since I’ve been messing around in Google SketchUp recently my mind then went to how to model something like that, and then I imagined how easy it would be to take her design for the hollow fan blade and twist it into all kinds of fun shapes.
Visual asset portfolio in 3D, to keep track of both physical and intangible possessions & agreements.
Where the idea came from: Back when I used to trade stocks more frequently I was really disappointed with the UI/UX of my investment software (Interactive Brokers). I wanted a more visual way to digitally represent my portfolio and assets. For instance, stocks could be represented by a mini headquarters of the company maybe with little avatars doing whatever that company does (would help you see your investments in a different way). Bonds are basically debt so the visualization could be your avatar lending to the company or gov. and then floating above it would be the face value, maturity date, and coupon of the bond, and any other relevant rules specialized to that type of bond. With stocks you could also show what class stock, if it’s voting or non-voting and all that stuff, when the dividend dates are etc. Physical assets could also be displayed geographically, with important info like VIN numbers and faceplates for equipment, you could track maintenance schedules, depreciation etc. As an example on the contractual/agreement side of things, here is a cartoon illustrated operating agreement for a worker owned co-op which uses almost no difficult to understand legal jargon, but when signed is still a legally binding document. In the case of an agreement between two individuals you could imagine in this interface there being a little avatar of each person and it shows the relationship and whatever agreements have been made between the parties in the middle with the electronic copy of the signed document floating in between them as well as icons showing if the transaction is time for money or money for services etc.. Then of course you would have your house, car, money in the bank etc.
Ok now imagine all this in #VR via a badass blank canvas room app. Imagine these two use cases for an app like this. 1) A virtual “central command” workspace for projects. For the urban wood salvage project Corona is managing (Trejuvenation) it might look something like this: picture a big room, for the sake of this thought experiment think of the Pantheon in Rome. In the center of the room is a big 3D map of San Diego County. Floating next to it is a legend, allowing you to easily turn off and on the multitude of layers now available from public #GIS data, plus any of our own project data we decide to plot like locations of sawmill operations or lumber drying kilns. Imagine adding RFID tags to logs/lumber and the map showing in real time as those materials move throughout the county. The kilns all show their temperature and energy usage in real time. There’s a tree being felled in El Cajon but no driver has been lined up to pick it up and haul it to a drop-site! *pop out of VR and make a good ol’ fashioned phone call, have a sandwich for a problem solved* The map is certainly one of the more useful tools this command center would have but it could have so much more. A big calendar showing upcoming events and deadlines, Clocks of the World but with all the project KPIs showing how things are going in real-time, mind maps for the project like a sources, flows and sinks map of the commercial biochar system. There’s a police investigation style board with dossiers on key influencers for the industry, like Taylor Guitars and the City of San Diego councilmember who oversees a critical central district where the landfill is. There are the classic strings showing any connections between the players with notes on how we can gain their buy-in. Whiteboards and sticky notes galore. Basically this would be place where you can make a big mess with all your project documents and with the flip of a switch it all disappears from view. This area would also be useful in sharing details of the projects with potential partners or funding agencies, where they could walk around and see all the different things we are working on in an interactive way. You can also imagine a “front of house” area to compliment this "back of house" virtual command center. Front of house could be a little less spreadsheet-y and a little more art gallery, a marketing tool for the average person to learn about the project. 3D models of real-life wood sculptures and furniture made by local salvaged wood craftspeople, educational animations showing how our solar kiln works, or the process involved in milling lumber, or making an acoustic guitar. You get the idea.
Ok now along the same lines but in a slightly direction. Our digital files can also be an asset and one definitely worth visualizing better. Imagine a 3D to scale digital representation of all your files. I personally have thousands of books on my computer, plus who knows how many scientific journal articles, business documents, etc. etc. and I want to see how big of a Scrooge McDuck style library I could create. I know the search function on a computer works pretty well but I think this could be very useful for organizing, sorting, and perusing files. If I had this system and spent some time browsing I bet I would find all kinds of stuff that I didn’t even know I had. Might even read some of those books or journal articles!
Computer of the Future A computer that naturally responds to combination of voice, gesture, & touch. Still has a keyboard and mouse but neither are used nearly as much. Combo of cameras, lasers, and a Thalmic Labs-type wearable piece detect gestures. It would also include collapsible OLED screens of various sizes (iPad to auditorium) maybe with the cameras, lasers and microphones integrated on top, hopefully light weight enough and with powerful enough batteries to be easily stuck onto convenient walls, or hung from things. Also this Microsoft style touchscreen desk in front of the person (for home or office, not on the go). A VR headset like the Oculus Rift could also be used. I personally wouldn’t want to wear something like that all the time but for certain things it would definitely be useful.
Electromagnetic Spectacles Being able to see the entire electromagnetic spectrum at once in real time… just imagine that for a second. Then imagine watching skin get sunburned at micro scale, then nano scale, in real time. I can’t even comprehend what this would be like. Update: I don’t even know if it would be possible to take in all that information at once. You might have to cycle through different wavelengths, or subsets of the spectrum. Still want this.
VR Eco Louge Using up and coming idea of using virtual hangout spaces for sustainability and education
Just watched/read Ready Player One and so I had VR on the mind. Did some Googling to see what was going on in the space currently and came across this image on the home page of Second Life successor Sansar.
The below image is showing the idea of Twitch streamers creating virtual hang out spaces where their fans can watch their stream together while hanging out. This same idea could be utilized by interesting sustainability influencers, like Marina Qutab is for zero-waste stuff as an example. She could have a curated virtual space that she designs with activities and educational stuff like a station where you learn how to cook vegan/zero-waste, or one on how to avoid plastic packaging, all while hanging out with other people who enjoy her stuff. Imagine the room with a screen up on stage just like in the above image and when Marina goes on Instagram Live or whatever she pops up on the screen, interacts with you. VR is going to become huge and the sustainability movement should get in there early to utilize it.
Automatic Trash Sorter First take a picture of EVERYTHING in the trash then develop an algorithm to sort it. Needs a good camera and tagging system. And everyone should get beastly garbage disposals for everything organic (food scraps mostly). Update: apparently the stuff that goes down garbage disposals is bad for pipes. Originally, I thought well the infrastructure is in place we might as well just send everything gross and they can deal with it at the big, fancy wastewater treatment plants. Maybe that’s not the way. Of course, my preference would be a distributed system but good luck with that #kitchen
Eco Buildings Buy up cheap property and build self-sustaining commercial buildings, ideally over-sustaining and selling products back to the grid & consumers in general. Self-sustaining projects include:
Hurricane resistant, energy efficient home or office
Solar concentrator -> Steam engine -> electrical generator
Algae biomass -> fuel pelletizer -> gasifier burner -> heat exchanger -> steam engine -> electrical generator
Wind turbine (pretty self explanatory)
Algae oil -> 3rd party fuel refiner
Dome to the right grows produce
Waste heat from gasifier burner goes back to solar concentrator, while waste CO2 from burner feeds algae
An aggregator for “Uber for X” Provide gig economy workers the opportunity to increase income by showing them the other gig jobs available at a given residence or other location
Context: Lots of these companies like Handy and Cleanly have to send someone to your home. Some of these companies have not been doing so hot financially, and their contractors aren’t very happy. Idea: Improve margins by having a human or algorithm pick out potential areas where one contractor could fill multiple roles. Improve contractor morale by marketing it as a way for them to develop new skills. Pay contractors to train one another in each skill. Make it worker owned so that everyone has a strong incentive to be good teachers and to automate themselves out of the job. Ideally worker-owners learn the ins and outs of each skill/job and are thus able to help with the development of methods to automate each task. Slowly the machines take over the tasks with humans overseeing the robots, acting as customer support, building relationships with the client etc.
3D Habitat Use dual bridge #3Dprinting #robots to make wildlife crossings. Habitat fragmentation is probably top two cause of biodiversity loss along with land system change #massextinction #3rdindustrialrevolution
Green the Desert: We’re seeing a lot of success in Niger from farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR). If we gave more resources to this we could green the Sahara
Green Coffee Cart Stylish coffee ATM using local, regenerative ingredients & placed outside a brick and mortar location to serve pedestrian or car day or night. It could also be mobile, taken to events, or used by coffee cart companies when they want to close shop for the day. Most importantly from the Green perspective the company could also provide help to the customer coffee shops with sourcing ingredients grown using regenerative agriculture.
Traffic Control The camera, laser, microphone system from Computer of the Future idea would also be highly relatable to traffic management systems. If we could install these camera systems on top of traffic lights and we also had wireless internet in every car (i.e. Internet of Things, Machine2Machine) we’e pretty much solved the issue of traffic. If you add radar to each car and the ability to brake automatically I think you’ll have really solved it. But even with current technology we could make a huge dent in traffic just with a little cleverness. Google maps could give you the avg speed of a traffic jam and allow you to set your cruise control to it. If enough people did this it would significantly smooth out the caterpillar movement of a traffic jam.
Smart Kites Use large kites to help move ocean vessels. Wind currents become faster yet more stable at higher altitudes, thus might it make more sense to deploy a sail higher up than typical sailboat masts can reach. I also had the idea to use small solar powered drones to fly up even higher and monitor wind currents and other weather to determine when it would be beneficial to deploy the kite vs. use the motor.
Self Driving Cars Ohhh my god just get this one done already. Some municipality just needs to decide we’ve had enough automobile fatalities (not to mention the whole traffic thing that would be solved by this). The technology already exists. Cameras, and radar, and car to car communication. There's this whole ethical issue of does the car kill the child or the grandmother or whatever, screw that let's just put airbags on the bumpers of cars, add more technology to reduce the risk of a fatality to near zero, use metal foam bumpers as a redundancy for safety. Also, the cameras could do things to prepare the car for impact past a certain threshold. Put air bags on alert if an object is coming towards the car really fast. So that if a tree were to fall during a blizzard, something the car can’t forsee, it will still be ok.
I think there’s a tendency on the highway for individuals or groups of cars to go much faster if the road is open in front of them. They eventually catch up the next group of cars and I think this tendency exacerbates the problem of traffic. Another reason self driving cars would help, the cars could keep people more spread out and it would prevent the sort of mob mentality here from being expressed.
There's also so much we could be doing to reduce traffic while we wait for fully autonomous vehicles. For instance #GoogleMaps or #Waze could tell the driver the average speed of a traffic jam (which Waze already seems to do in some cases, but the text is very small on the highway). The second part might involve a billboard education campaign training drivers about this new feature with the goal of getting a decent proportion of drivers during a traffic jam to set their cruise control to the average speed of traffic. This idea could be taken further and freeway drivers could be re-trained in other ways to reduce traffic. For instance, what if we made each lane a designated speed with maybe 5mph differential between each lane. If you're not in a rush you get in the 55mph lane and everyone sets their cruise control and ideally spaces themselves out enough such that people needing to enter or exit could fit in between.
Farm Bots Invent a little robot that harvests small plants (ideally can differentiate between ripe and non-ripe edibles), takes regular measurements of soil conditions, precipitation, maybe even wind, possible event fend off pests… BAM and it could tow a basket for the produce with big mountain board wheels and the basket could be on springs or something to prevent damage to food. Put a little solar panel on its back for power. Then for bigger plants and fruit trees maybe even use little quadcopters that could fly around and monitor conditions, plant seeds, harvest etc.
Context: Was thinking about the ideal industrial pig farm (large field, big ol’ sty, petting zoo annex for the kids). Useful plants would also be planted all around. Then was thinking how annoying small plants all in random spots would be to harvest
Piezo Wardrobe Piezoelectric clothing that either heats as you move or when it's hot out it runs the current through a peltier cell to cool you down
Accessorize in 3D First big product for ubiquitous 3D printers… sunglasses. You sell the design for a few bucks and then the lens material. The rest would be the standard plastics the printers use…. UPDATE: saw someone doin this online recently. Just saw another company using it. Well, at least I know it was a good idea and I was right it was one of the first products companies jumped on. What other products would be like this? You could do speakers, dishware, vases, paper weights and small office equipment. Basically the business model is to sell the design for relatively inexpensive and provide access to any specialty parts that are necessary, as well as ideas for other things they can make. Already exists in various forms, but not sure anyone is doing it really well.
Eco Robot Tailor #Clothing "ecosystem" store w/ human or robot tailor that takes very precise measurements + #VR #hardware + pick your own #supplychain. And then you choose let's say a bolt of cotton grown on THAT #regenenerative #agriculture #farm and 3 organic dyes from #Djibouti or whatever. The materials arrive and a #local #lasercutter creates the pattern based on your custom measurements to whatever fit you want, ready to be sewn together into your clothing; #designed and #built to last many years, while also coming from #good, #clean, and #just sources. More on custom fit: You could see the #clothing on you in #VR and be able to stretch/shrink in all directions, transcending S M & L forever
Could do this same thing with shoes (I actually came up with this one first). Next generation shoe that uses Dr. Scholl’s type scanner, but for whole shoe instead of just the sole.
Self Folding Clothes. Mechanism that allows clothes to fold themselves. No idea how to do this but it would be pretty cool. If you could do it though maybe you could also create clothes that can switch from travel to business or a backpack into a briefcase and vice versa. Would only be worthwhile if you could make it seamless. If it looked at all corny like zip up pants used to it wouldn’t work.
Flower Rain Catchment Big flower shaped rain catcher. Put it on a 20 foot “stem”, if every house had one that could create a lot of potential energy. Plus it might look cool. Creates shade. Could have solar PV.
Solar Panel Gardens Does anyone know how modern day #ConcentratedSolarPower plants clean all those mirrors? I wonder if they could increase overall efficiency by #growing #plants in and around the #CSP system. They'd lower the amount of dust in the vicinity I would think. Imagine a little army of droids that cleans the mirrors and uses a little of that water to very precisely water (inject right to the root zone) plants growing under the #heliostats. The plants would also decrease the temperature locally, maybe even enough to improve the thermodynamics of the #CSP plant. Then what if you used a little of the plant's electricity to pump water from underground (it should come up cold), and then run it through thin copper pipe with a much wider pipe surrounding that. On hot days might the copper pipes 'sweat' enough to irrigate the plants growing under the heliostat?
HEALTH & NUTRITION
Human laboratory - tests on myself
Genetic tests (so far 23andMe + genetic counselor) but want to do more. Once whole genome sequencing is below $1000 I think I’ll do it. I’d like to finish sequencing my genome, make a few small improvements and then inject stem cells with those changes and see what happens. If its successful, make a few more changes and repeat. Continue to monitor…
maybe implant a glucose meter like Tim Ferriss but I want to go further. I’d actually love to start with some sort of hydration meter.
Would also like to do stem cell treatments. Ferriss beat me to the punch on this one but I have been wanting to do it for years. Not sure yet exactly what he did in terms of this but I would want to slowly change the genetics of the cells I was injecting to get rid of some of the proclivities for disease I have, or just to change certain traits
Robo Doc I had an idea a few years ago for some sort of all-in-one home medical robot that could give you a daily checkup and record all sorts of data. Update: after SOCAP18 I think this is probably going to be a toilet lol. I could describe my rudimentary form of this idea but these guys do it way better. From Keyes and Fresco’s Looking Forward:
Scott and Hella step into a cabinet and automatically trigger a ten-second series of tests that help them achieve the highest level of health. The mechanism records their weight so that the cybernator can check gain or loss. If an upward trend in weight appears over a period of time, the cybernator orders the food production mechanism to decrease the calories without making any noticeable change in the bulk or taste of the food. The cabinet also measures blood pressure differentials throughout the body. It produces an electrocardiogram and instantaneously compares it with previous electrocardiograms. The blood in capillaries on the retina of the eye is given a spectro-analysis. The heartbeat, respiratory rate, brain-wave activity, and many other measurements are made and instantly compared with long-term norms for the individual. The cybernator does not over-respond to individual readings of any specific day but, instead, analyzes them for physiological trends. The Correlation Center compares them with norms based on over two billion people.
Know Your Nourishment Needs How awesome would it be if you could prick yourself and by knowing exactly what you were low on, what you want to eat, and what would most satisfy you. First sensor should be for tracking hydration… and micronutrients, antioxidants, essential fats.
Self Vital Check iPhone app to detect breathing rate or pulse, maybe an add on device that could also measure o2, co2, detect vf, heart rate. UPDATE: there’s an IndieGoGo campaign raising money for this, and there’s an iphone app that can detect heart rate by placing finger over camera. Then it turns it into a song, sorta gimicky but the heart rate function itself is pretty cool