Conceptual Idea Emporium
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 are working in one of these areas and like anything you see here please contact me, I’d love to help in any way to make these, or similar ideas, a reality.
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.
- I want a giant graph of the 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 aaaaallllll the waaay up there, down to 1 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.
- 3D modeling. I just saw a crowdfunding campaign for a fan, which in the central housing has hardware to cool or heat air and then hollow fan blades that efficiently distribute it 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 sort of ugly, 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, then to 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, but I’m not that good with sketchup yet. BUT if I could do it with my hands….. it would be so easy. I think Microsoft Kinect plus Thalmic labs wristband plus Oculus Rift (or Vive) plus a 3D scanner…. oh ma gawd I could really bring ideas to life in my hands. Metal would become playdough. Seriously we gotta combine those technologies…
- Being able to “summon” the character of Richard Feynman during a casual conversation about surface dynamics and the value of a strong imagination in a scientific discussion. So in an ideal world this would be a realistic hologram of Feynman with the sum total of all his lectures, papers, books, and interviews all programmed in, able to converse in a natural way. Not necessarily think for itself, just play the part very well. Ok that’s how I imagine the end result, let’s take baby steps to get there. Again what a phenomenal resource to have Richard Feynman or Nikola Tesla or Isaac Newton to bounce ideas off of.
- I want to learn how to use my investment software more fully and then ultimately come up with an entirely new way to represent a person’s portfolio and assets. Something much more visual definitely. Maybe a little 3D world that visualizes all your stuff, both physical and intangible. For instance, you could also represent a contract you have with someone. There could be a little avatar of them and it shows the relationship and whatever legal agreement there is between the two of you 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 or what have you. Then of course you would have your house, car money in the bank etc. 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 but I would think they differ somewhat from corporate to government debt. So the ones with the gov would say what kinda bond it is and the parameters, the corporate would say what the deal is on theirs. 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.
- So I have this idea for a computer of the future (I’m sure others have had very similar ideas this is just my version). The first part of the idea I had was wanting a computer that could respond to voice, touch, still had a keyboard and mouse, could also use cameras and lasers to detect gestures, and maybe a Thalmic Labs-type wearable piece (but I didn’t think to add that until much later). It would also include collapsible OLED screens of various sizes (iPad to auditorium) with cameras, lasers and microphones on top and this Microsoft style touchscreen desk in front of the person (for home or office, not on the go). Later on I had the idea of using some sort of VR headset like the Oculus Rift. I personally wouldn’t want to wear something like that all the time but for certain things it would definitely be useful
- 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.
- Multi purpose forensics scanners/cellphones/walkie talkies. Saw this in a show one time but can’t remember what. Wasn’t Star Trek but something like that. Also it showed them using a similar thing plugged into the electricity or whatever showing the circuitry. I actually thought that one was pretty dumb, but it was a good representation of the computer being able to show the user where the problem is, allowing the human to be the problem solver while the computer does much of the heavy lifting. I think this is the paradigm we should use going forward, use computers for what they are good at to enhance the human's ability to do what they are good at.
- With cloud computing it seems like there might be a need for better back up systems like time machine. Except time machine is annoying and I don’t have a lot of confidence in it. I’d like more peace of mind as more and more things go digital (i.e. medical records) and as more and more gets stored on the cloud you need to be secure and at ease. Basically a list of documents that should be saved, and a program and system (the actual backup drive) that saves documents in such a way as to make the person feel secure. Fingerprint scanner if that’s what it takes. Personal long term servers if you’ve got that much data. Basically I still think there’s a need or desire for a hard copy just not paper! Like what if someone sets off an EMP to rob a bank. I don’t want to lose all my important backed up data. And I’d like more peace of mind that something is being done to prevent hacking these systems.
- Was thinking about amount of data to process in terms of self-driving cars (spots where people have died, weather conditions, other cars, turns in the road, route etc) néed more processing power. What does that mean? Four processors? Bigger processors? Why do computers deteriorate and run slower?
- This past weekend I went with a few buddies to Washington DC for the Virgin Mobile FreeFest concert, needless to say things got a bit wild, but that’s a story for another time. Anyway, Tyler and Daniel came up with an idea for an app called On The Way that would have your route stored and then you could search for chipotle for example, and it would show you the closest ones to your route. Maybe not an app in and of itself but definitely a great feature (Update: Google maps does this now. But it took them more than 3 years since we had that idea). Now they thought we would need to hire someone who could code to make it happen, but I still like the idea of.. just selling the idea. For instance, another aspect of the “app” I came up with was while using google maps on my Mac looking for places to buy Toms on the way between Cincinnati and Kansas City. Ya, weird search, I know. Anyway, I thought another useful feature would be to have the ability to save layers. So I search for Journeys shoes with the window zoomed so I can see both Cinci and Kansas City. If I could save all those dots, and then start a new search for directions from those two places I can make a decision about what route I want to take. Throw estimated traffic on there (and you could input the hours of the day you’ll likely be driving and it will predict based on that as opposed to what the conditions are when you search as it currently is), maybe a type of restaurant I want to eat at. I think it would make it much easier to plan out a trip (hotels, amusement parks, etc. etc.) It could also suggest highly rated places as you give it more of an idea of what you want. Ok so how would I sell it? I think as someone who has never made an app talking to the various map apps of the world, you offer the idea for $10,000 bucks, $5,000 upfront + all the paperwork they want having us sign over the rights to the idea, and $5,000 if they ever make $10k off the idea, and that’s it. Once you sell one you can sell more because you have more credibility. You could sell the next idea for $20k and a 1% royalty maybe. The next time double that, and so on and so forth.
- Buy up cheap property and build self-sustaining commercial buildings, ideally over-sustaining and selling products back to the grid
Hurricane resistant, energy efficient home
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
2. An aggregator for “Uber for X”. Assumptions: 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, 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.
- Thin film 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
- either this 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 though technologically
- Clothes that fold themselves.
- Ability to quickly change from travel to business clothes. Backpack into briefcase and vice versa. Would only be worthwhile if you could make it seamless. If it looked at all corny like zip of pants used to it wouldn’t work.
- Cell phone with a OLED screen. Removable oxygen or whatever battery. Some sort of biometric lock. You should be able to unfold it and make a bigger screen. You could start with thin stacked screens that you just pull out. You could stack as many as you want to carry. Then nextgen it could just unfold like three times, and then you should be able to pull out a cubic foot screen from something the size of a wristwatch. Lightweight, OLED resulotion, 52″ widescreen wherever you want it. Hell yes.
- Next generation shoe that uses Dr. Scholl’s type scanner, but in 3D to create whole custom fit shoe perfect for individual arches and foot shape
- More immersive video game. Like staring in your own action movie but start with normal games now. So just combine literally all types of games. It would be first person shooter at times, grand theft auto style at times plus with RPG depth and user submitted response options and scenarios. Would be perfect for the Oculus Rift
Advanced “transparent” parental controls for innapropiate content
Variable langths but with defaults averaging like an hour and a half like a movie. But could do in increments. I guess save whenever but the “scenarios would be set to last no longer than like 4 hours or something
Also variable difficulties. To market it to the fat people and pussies who wouldn’t want to exercise too much.
- The camera, laser, microphone system from computer idea #6 would also be highly relatable to traffic management systems. I would think if you were to install these camera systems on top of traffic lights and you also had wireless internet in every car (i.e. Internet of Things, Machine2Machine) and boom you’ve pretty much solved that whole pesky traffic issue. 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.
- Another transportation idea I had was to 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. 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.
- Farm Robots. 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. SO make a little robot that harvests small plants (ideally can differentiate between ripe and non-ripe berries and such), takes regular measurements of soil conditions, precipitation, maybe even wind, even fend off pests possibly… 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.
- Automatic water filler for refrigerator
- Automatic Trash sorter. First take a picture of EVERYTHING then develop an algorithm to sort it. Just gotta integrate a good camera system 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.
- Piezoelectric clothing that heats up as you move
- 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… GENIUS. 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 with the design and actual speaker part being the only thing we sell. Hmm what else?? 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 was something I thought of at one point as well.
- Big flower shaped rain catcher. Put it on a 20 foot “stem”, if every house had one that would be a shit ton of potential energy
Health/Nutrition/Human Laboratory or something
- 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
- 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 Ferriss 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
- 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. I could describe my rudimentary form of this idea but these guys do it waaaaay 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.
- First sensor should be for tracking hydration… and micronutrients, antioxidants, essential fats. How awesome would it be if you could prick yourself and by knowing exactly what you were low on know exactly what you want to eat, what would most satisfy you. Assuming that it’s true that our cravings are somehow based on what we need even if we don’t really understand anymore.
- Finish sequencing my DNA, 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…
- 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
3 in 1 erection cream (slow acting and short lived in the body), lotion, and lubricant (haha this wasn’t my idea but I can’t remember, where I got it??)
- Hand tooled high quality leather (I must have been drunk when I wrote this one..)
- Synthetic bio. Algae, breaking down plastics. Turning sea water into islands, or somehow making islands I know I saw something about a guy making medium sized floating platforms in some sort of sustainable way but I can’t find it. This would be big though 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.