|Eight new ideas for high-technology products
||[Oct. 22nd, 2011|08:00 pm]
What follows are eight original ideas I've had for new high-technology products. I haven't done any patent or web searches on any of these potential inventions, so of course I can't guarantee someone other than me hasn't independently invented the same thing, but to my current knowledge that is not the case. Some of the following are ideas I've had for a while, and some are just off the top of my head.|
- Routefinding Software for GPS Drawings. As it stands, you can visit any number of web-based map services (e.g. bing.com/maps/ or maps.google.com), enter a starting address and destination address, select whether you're traveling by vehicle or on foot, and be presented with the shortest viable route from the start to the destination. To capitalize on the recent GPS Drawing fad, my idea is to develop a smart new algorithm which would compute a custom route not based on starting and ending points, but based on specified text, a maximum number of miles, and a specified city: what you're then presented with is a turn-by-turn set of directions which (as you traverse it) will cause you to spell out your text on the surface streets of your chosen city. The algorithm would select the route which creates the most clearly-formed letters, an optimization which could be much more varied and creative than simply finding the shortest possible route from a start to a destination and hence provide greater opportunity for both market differentiation and the creation of original intellectual property. Partners in this endeavor could include any of the countless running shoe or bicycle companies which would love to be associated with a new sport which makes exercise more creative and interesting.
- Trusted No-Kill Hunting. Using the "platform integrity" feature of standard trusted platform module technology, create what amounts to a digital camera with an integral GPS, digital clock, compass, and optical zoom, all in the shape of an ordinary hunting rifle. Public key cryptography technology is used to digitally "sign" each photograph taken, bundled with the GPS reading, timestamp, heading, zoom level, and (critically) the unique and unguessable serial number of that specific device. The user may specify the time zone so as to have the time presented in his or her accustomed format, but may not adjust the clock. When plugged into a computer via its USB port, this device will then communicate with a cloud-based service maintained by the device's manufacturer, and upload all of the photographs which were taken on it. Basically, this would allow people to "hunt" animals for which no hunting licenses are available, in a way which is both verifiable and which does not disturb the animal.
- Duplicate-Free Filesystems for Large Files. Just use as the file's index number not some random or sequential number, but rather that file's SHA-2 cryptographic hash. When a file is written, check to see if that same hash already exists: if it does, then don't write that file a second time, but rather only create a pointer to the existing file with the same hash. Furthermore, provide a mechanism whereby that hash can be computed and provided independently by the process which seeks to write it (but with fallback to ordinary behavior for software which does not take advantage of this), the idea being to allow an end user uploading a large file to the cloud to have that upload take essentially zero seconds for any file already in the cloud, regardless of the size of the file, if his or her FTP client can compute the hash and send it to the FTP server before attempting to send the actual file. The application to cloud-based computing, particularly where music and video files are involved, would be obvious. I should add that this idea seems so obvious that I just can't believe someone else hasn't already thought of it, though as noted above I haven't actually checked to see if that's the case :)
- Peanut Galleries for YouTube and Netflix. Normally, when you visit the page for a YouTube video clip, or a Netflix streaming movie, that clip or movie starts immediately once you click "Play." The idea I had would be to provide the user with a second option, which would be to start his or her media playback only once ten other people selected that same option. The clip or movie then begins for each of those ten people simultaneously, and is kept in sync between all of them (perhaps during the waiting period the bandwidth of each user could be tested and users whose bandwidth would cause them to lag would be politely booted from the group queue). Critically, each of those ten users would automatically share the same new YouTube or Netflix chat window once their clip or movie starts, so that they can make funny comments about what they're all seeing in real time. This would duplicate the experience of making fun of a movie on the couch with a bunch of friends, which is both amusing in its own right and which makes lower-quality material more interesting. This would also provide a dimension to watching movies online which has no equivalent in any other medium, and which ties into the ever-growing cultural desire for participation with one's entertainment.
- Japanese-Style Capsule Hotels in New York City and Washington DC. Air fares are always relatively cheap to each of these two cities: what tends to inflate the total bill is either (1) hotel room costs, or (2) dumb choices as to food/entertainment. Not much can be done about the latter. In theory the former can be addressed via hostels, but in practice many people reject this option regardless of its merits. By contrast, capsule hotels would provide a unique experience of international adventure, and effectively address the cost of a night's stay. This could additionally be a terrific service for cost-conscious business travelers (both domestic and international), and provide many lower-income Americans with a realistic option for visiting these two remarkable cities.
- A global Google Street View coupled with Second Life. What if the ability to wander, which Second Life grants, were coupled with the presentation of real-life streets, which Google Street View grants? And furthermore, what if Google Street View were systematically expanded to every street of every major city on the planet, and ideally every important museum and civic space within those cities? What if an optional identity-verification system were in place, so that people who are real-life inhabitants of a given city were specially flagged in your virtual environment? And finally, what if you could flag the languages you speak, so that any text sent to you by people who do not speak one of your languages were instantly translated into your native language by Google's online translation service?
- BIOS-level backups. Many Windows PCs today are sold with a special restore partition, which allows you to restore that computer to its factory state based on its contents. Given how rapidly hard drive sizes are expanding in comparison to the disk space that operating systems require, I think an additional partition is in order, which lets you save at least one additional backup image via the BIOS firmware. Such a feature would be a boon to people who help family members get their new computers set up, and who want to be able to easily guide that family member in restoring that machine to the state in which he or she left it.
- Expanding "Guitar Hero" to classical music instruments and the internet. Imagine the world's best compositions for chamber ensemble or perhaps even full symphonies, where you're matched with people of similar skill in subsequent rounds regardless of their geographic location.