By Costa Michailidis
Update (July 2013): Since we’ve put this list up, some of these ideas have become quite real, others, we’ve discovered, have been around for quite some time. Keep the ideas flowing : )
- Self-cleaning Cloths.
- Haircuts that have utility.
- A dog training service that trains your dog to do useful things, perhaps even income generating things.
- Garbage cans that recycle trash.
- Crowdsourced education.
- Using devices (smartphones, laptops, etc) as wireless routers. Imagine every device boosted the wifi signal.
- Shoes that clean the ground.
- Grounds that clean your shoes.
- Toys that build character.
- An alarm clock that simulates the sunrise and sounds of nature to wake you up.
- A smart phone that brews your coffee just before your alarm goes off.
- An app for phones to control your TV remotely.
- A “home” app that connects all of your house’s appliances to the cloud.
- A bedtime stories database sortable by what type of difficulties your child is having.
- An app that scans text from paper onto a screen.
- Retractable packaging - a serivce that sends packaging back to the seller for reuse.
- Lightning-powered pants.
- Lightning-powered power plants.
- Pants that heat up or cool down depending on the weather.
- Clothing that heats up as you move.
- Paint that changes hue when hit by sound waves.
- GPS for pets. No-more missing cat flyers.
- Laws that prevent the above technology from being used on people.
- Sailing on top of the atmosphere the way ships sail on top of the sea.
- Using one of those atmosphere sailboats to attach the elevator to space.
- Attaching an expiration date to money.
- Having a presidential debate with instant audience approval ratings.
- A series of tech educational videos for old folks.
- Social skills curriculm at schools.
- Teaching creativity at school.
- Toys that teach creativity at home.
- Video games that teach social skills.
- Remote controlled snorkeling robots.
- Underwater Greenhousing for Coral Reefs.
- Underwater farming.
- Indoor farming.
- Dolls of role model women: Rosa Parks, Hillary Clinton, Melinda Gates, Gaby Douglas.
- A counter for how many times Google searching has settled an argument.
- Sorting your email by who sent it to you instead of by date.
- Voice command emailing.
- A sink that doubles as a dish washer.
- Have the stearing wheel vibrate when you’re too close to the car behind you, instead of that annoying beeping sound.
- Hats with solar panels. No more dead cell phones.
- Refabricate pay phones as public outlets. No more dead cell phones.
- A totally customizable all-in-one healthy habits points system that’s enforceable.
- GPS tracker for expensive jewelery, so that when it gets stollen you can tell the cops where to look for it.
- A school that farmed some of it’s own food locally so that students could learn about farming, and systems in general in a hands-on way, maybe it could sell some of that food during harvest season as well.
- Word-of-the-day unlock screens for smartphones.
- To-do list on the unlock screen for smartphones.
- Starbucks set up at busy intersections right up along the street like a drive-through.
- Flash Mobs that do something useful.
- Cable car systems for traffic-dense cities.
- A mobile dating app with augmented reality personal ads/profiles.
- Planes that are remotely piloted from the ground so they can’t be hijacked.
- TED Talks from historical figures (such as: Abraham Lincoln, Aristotle, Cleopatra) written by historians and delivered by actors.
- A bracelet that measures your vitals and stores them in your own personal health database.
- An app that calculates the nutritional value of your food when you take a picture of it.
- Using trees to boost WiFi signals.
- Using cars to boost WiFi signals.
- Offer drivers in big cities a tax deduction for mounting a WiFi device onto their cars. The device is powered by the car, and the more cars adopt a device the better the city’s WiFi.
- An app that told you if someone near you went to your high school or college, or had something else in common with you.
- An app that gave live stats on parties.
- Massive Multiplayer Online Games that have a productive output or side effect.
- A spoof of drug commercials to educate kids on the dangers of drug abuse.
- Pockets that clean your smartphone screen.
- Smart outlets, that know how much voltage and amperge is optimal for the device that’s plugged in.
- Cars with multiple energy systems. Solar Panels, Batteries, a combustion engine, breaks that absorb energy.
- Cars that pull electricity from the road.
- GPS on public transporation so that we have live updates on when trains and buses will arrive.
- Packaging that decomposes into fertalizer.
- Self-sorting Trash.
- A dating site for old folks.
- A vacation website where you can search by feeling. For example: relaxation, excitement, laughter, peace.
- Do-it-yourself cell phone repair kit.
- The personification of smartphones. Name your device, let it decide things like which restaurant to go to, have it friend other smartphones on Facebook, dress it up for Halloween.
- Replace text emails with video messages.
- Napster for university lectures.
- Contests where the prize is a job at Google or IBM.
- Cell phone screens that double as solar panels.
- Order business cards directly from Linkedin.
- A web app that let’s you watch TV shows or movies with friends while you’re not in-person.
- Cup holder that keeps your coffee hot.
- Building material that sweats to cool the building down.
- A bar that only people going out alone are allowed into.
- A website where movie fans can request sequels and contribute ideas for the screenplay.
- A video game that helps you succeed in your career.
- A career exchange program. You mentor someone who’s looking to get into your field, and someone from the field you want to get into mentors you.
- A browser plugin that puts old bookmarks along side search results, so that you can be reminded of the things you bookmarked when you search with similar keywords.
- Touch screens for laptops.
- A marketplace that connects bazzars in developing countries with buyers in developed countries.
- An online platform that helps people crowdsource the completion of small tasks rather than donations.
- Doubling your headphones as earmuffs in the winter.
- Combining geothermal energy principles with the heat differential required to run a sterling engine. This could generate electricity in the winter, especially when it snows.
- A feature that allows you to follow, friend, and share contact info with someone by bumping phones.
- Computer Viruses that attack other computer viruses.
- A waterpark built at the beach.
- A remote controlled droid for safari adventures. Look out for that Lion! (You break it, you buy it)
- Flip-chart-sized paper airplanes.
- Bacteria-resistant money.
- A Doomsday Kit that held the information needed to restart civilization if we had a near extinction event.
Insights in Idea Generation
Most often when we start to come up with ideas to solve a problem, whether we’re alone or collaborating with a group, we evaluate the ideas as they come up. Consequently we stop at the first good idea. A better way is to defer evaluation, and just list out ideas, hundreds of ideas! Amongst many ideas there will be some real gems. Also, what’s typical during idea generation is for people to think of the typical ideas first and for novelty to emerge later in the process. Next time you’re faced with a challenge that requires some imagination to solve, try generating a hundred ideas for how to solve it.
Lastly, some of the crazy ideas above are real in some form or another, can you guess which ones?
By Stavros Michailidis
For some people, coming up with original ideas can be difficult. For others, it can be energizing and enjoyable.
Here is a tool called Portable Think Tank that can help you generate unique ideas when you are stuck. I learned about it in an online course for training creative thinking. It is designed to spark ideas by thinking about them from others’ point of view – but who’s point of view is the important question.
Step 1: Create a list of candidates for your Portable Think Tank
- List the names of some great thinkers of today.
- List the names of some great characters from history.
- List the names of some of your favorite cartoon characters.
- List the names of some of your favorite movie characters.
- Finally, add the names of anyone else (real or fictional) who you think is fascinating, creative, or just plain funny.
Step 2: Pick the top 10
Think about the particular challenge you are facing and select candidates from your portable think tank. You can be deliberate or random in your selection.
Step 3: Generate ideas to address your challenge
Ask yourself, “How would __________ solve this challenge?” filling in the blank with the name of one of your Portable Think Tank members. Repeat this multiple times and for multiple people in your think tank. Try to generate at least 25 ideas.
This is a great tool for quickly generating some novel thinking. It works particularly well in a group where you can build on one another’s responses. Whenever we’ve tried this the room is always brimming with energy, laughter, and great ideas.
By Russ Schoen
Source: Chrysikou, E. (2012) Your Creative Brain at Work, Scientific Mind, (July/August), pages 24-29.
It’s easier to find great ideas when you have lots of ideas to choose from. Unfortunately, most people are too busy trying to find the right idea from the get go.
An easy way to practice coming up with more creative ideas is to practice
Divergent Rule # 2 - Go for Quantity!
In this activity you will have the opportunity to select a challenge and then try to come up with as many ideas as you can before the clock runs out. Remember to defer your judgment of the ideas and focus only on coming up with as many as you can.