This category is for content related to creative, new product ideas

If you ever watch prime-time news on TV, it’s full of shocking images of violence, death, and disaster. Sometime, I wonder if they program all these shocking images just to drive up ratings. I suppose it’s why we all stop and stare when we see an accident.

But with the recent BP oil spill/lead in the Gulf of Mexico, my pre-school son is wondering what’s going on. He saw a picture in the newspaper about the oil leak but the TV news is just too mature for him. And so, how about a news program designed for younger viewers? The show could help educate youngster about current events around the world including things like the BP oil leak problem. Stories could be non-political and non-violent to avoid upsetting kids (and their parents). I think it’s a great opportunity to teach kids about what’s happening in the world and how it might affect them.  It will also help children realize how their lives relate to the world around them better.

The Solar Impulse is a Swiss aircraft designed to fly without fuel using only batteries and solar energy. Although there have been long distance and human powered airplanes before, this will be the first purely solar powered aircraft. It just completed it’s first real flight using pre-charged batteries so the concept is becoming reality. Someday, aircraft like this one will be able to remain continuously airborne and operated remotely. The age of remotely piloted aircraft is here thanks to advances in electronics. In the future, remotely piloted aircraft, spacecraft, ships, etc. will become the norm I expect as each succeeding generation becomes more comfortable with the technology. 

In terms of design, the Solar Impulse has the immense wingspan found on gliders and other long distance aircraft like Burt Rutan’s Voyager. But the rest of the airplane is unique with it’s box-like fuselage section and dramatic vertical over and under rudder. It almost looks more like a spacecraft designed for inter-planetary travel if it weren’t for the scale. For more information about the Solar Impulse, go to www.solarimpulse.com.

.A low-altitude flight

 

For years digital camera manufactures have been a leading force of innovation. Not only are they packing more into less by adding more megapixels and features into the same size package and price, they are also doing some really cool things like this new Samsung camera. Now you can take self portraits using the small LCD on the front of the camera for framing. No more holding the camera out, taking the shot, and then checking to see if you captured everyone in the frame.

Further blurring the line between cell phones and digital cameras is the new Samsung Memoir. Equipped with an 8 Megapixel camera – now you can have a full features point and shoot high resolution camera with you all the time. For the first time, photography enthusiasts can consider leaving the digital camera at home if they have one of these. How soon before Nikon or Canon come out with a phone?  I’m sure Olympus will do it first!

The fusion of product categories continues… just as GPS navigation takes off with cell phone users, just as camera phones are hitting 8 megapixels, the dedicated navigation device is fighting back. Now Garmin has a navi phone so you can have truly remarkable navigation (and a phone and camera too). The merging and blending of product features goes on and it will be interesting to see where it ends up. Will we truly have a single mobile device that is just as good as multiple dedicated devices?

mini coupe concept

Just caught this today and I must admit that the Mini Coupe Concept is quite an attractive and distinctive design!  The green house execution is unique, intriguing, and even provocative with a silver accent color and a cleverly integrated roof spoiler. While the standard mini is iconic and the Clubman is awkward, this Coupe Concept is dramatic yet whimsical and shows how a roof line can completely alter a car’s persona. I’m sure we’ll see a Speedster version too if the Coupe goes into production.

 And after the Crossman SUV (not!), maybe we’ll see a Mini Sedan and then a Mini Coupe/Sedan like the M-B CLS… Imagine a 4 door version of the above car! You can see the story and full gallery at: http://www.autoblog.com/gallery/mini-coupe-concept/full/

You may have heard of Lean Manufacturing and Lean Design – how about Lean Living? The same principles from the factory floor can be applied right in you very own home. Whether it’s the laundry, taking out the garbage, doing the dishes, or handling the mail, you can improve the efficiency of your household by applying Lean principles as if your home were a factory.

Let’s study the laundry process as an example. First, dirty clothes are removed and stored in a buffer (hamper, floor, bedpost, closet). Then, dirty clothes are sorted (usually) into lights and darks or whites and colors. These sorted  piles act as buffers but are eventually transferred to the laundry station and washing and drying. These clothes are sometimes stored in the washing machine or dryer for extended periods of time so these are also used as another buffer or storage location for ‘inventory’. The clothes then folded at the dryer before being transferred back to another holding station in the form of a closet or dresser. Sometimes, the clothes are transferred to a separate folding station in front of the TV or to a bed if there is a lot of folding required. From the start of this process to the end, the clothes have been stored in up to 4 different buffers (closet, hamper, dryer, folding station) and handled as many times.

To improve the efficiency in the laundry process, there are several improvements that can be made.

  1. Eliminate the sorting process by having separate hampers for lights and darks.
  2. If you do an all-in-one laundry load, use your washer as a hamper and eliminate that storage step completely. Place dirty laundry directly into the washing machine.
  3. Fold clothes directly from the dryer and transfer immediately to closets or dressers
  4. For maximum efficiency, wear clothes directly from the dryer and eliminate the folding and storage steps entirely.

Many of the above principles can also be applied to dish washing. Instead of using the cupboard, sink, drying rack, and dishwasher as potential storage and subsequent handling/transferring locations, simple eliminate all of the above for your most frequently used items.  When you need a dish, take it from the dishwasher.  When you are finished with a dish, place it back in the dishwasher.  This eliminates the extra process steps of placing dirty dishes in the sink, for later later transfer to the dishwasher and back to a cupboard.

By now, you’re probably imagining many other applications for Lean Living around your home.  Just a few include:

Garbage – eliminate as many waste baskets as you can in the home.  The more waste baskets, the more garage you will generate and the more time you will spend sorting and getting rid of it. 

Mail – open it and action it immediately to avoid generating mail storage piles that will later need to be sorted and filed. In general, try to touch mail only once. The more times you have to handle a piece of mail, the less efficient your home will be. If you get a bill in the mail, you should open it, pay it, and file it immediately. Otherwise, you may put it in a pile, forget about it, find it later, wonder if it’s paid, pay it late, put it back in a pile, and finally sort it and file it.

Some think that Lean Living is just a sophisticated form of the bachelor lifestyle and you may be right!

keys1With car keys becoming more electronic with transponders, buttons, key cards, etc., how about a key that provides some REAL functionality? Enter the Swiss Army Knife car key. If you have a small Swiss Army Knife or multi-tool on your key chain or belt, you know what I mean. These small implements come in very handy and if you are handy, than this is the key for you.  It would fit especially well with commercial work vehicles or off-road vehicles. So instead of keys that are ‘styled’ to fit a brand, the time has come for keys that are a functional complement of the product.

With newspapers closing and magazines thinning as readership and advertisers dry up due to the global recession, on-line media, e-books, etc. – how we can the print industry reinvent itself? One idea from the Internet age which might transfer back to the print medium is individually targeted advertising and content. Imagine a premium monthly magazine where the content and advertising are tailored for just your interests. If you love golf, heart healthy recipes, para-sailing, California politics, and fast Italian cars, the stories in the magazine would only be about golf, heart healthy recipes, para-sailing, California politics, and fast Italian cars. The content is available from providers around the globe and could be syndicated for the magazine. To help pay for the magazine, advertisers would pay a premium since the magazine is going to a paying customer with very specific interests and known demographics.  The print business would shift to a lower volume, customized product from today’s high volume mass market product. If you just want all your news fast – there’s no better medium than on-line whether it’s your Yahoo! or Google homepage. By editing your preferences, you can get all the information you want about the subjects you want delivered right to your desktop. But if you are reading for pleasure, why not enjoy a beautiful magazine in your hands where every article is about the things you care about and where even the advertisements are something you want to read!