Saturday, 13 September 2008

Need An Edge? Speak To Me!

I often wonder about the most inscrutable of things.  Like, what is a "lucky bastard?"  Do they have to have unwed parents? And is that really lucky?

I mean - why is it that some guy gets on the New Inventors and gains an angel investor from it, with his absolutely crap Left Handed Stapler, when other people spend a fortune (and half their lives) developing the Totally Clean Renewable Energy System That You Can Buy For Five Hundred Bucks and never even gets one investor?

Here's the case that started me thinking. I've had literally hundreds of these kinds of ideas, and every so often one has come along that I felt just HAD to get developed.  I've then tried to interest investors to help develop it, and not once have I had more than a polite decline.

Stuff that had had me trying everything to get developed, came to nothing. Then, generally, someone else did it instead:

E-book readers.  I realised in 1996 that we'd soon be getting most content delivered via teh intartubes, and PDA devices were just becoming useable enough to make it possible. I thought "how hard could it be to get a device with rechargeable batteries, that could connect to the PC (umm, yeah, wayyyy before WiFi or Bluetooth) and download my books, documents, news articles, and other stuff?"  - the company I contacted, who DID do laptops and portable tablet style machines, said they couldn't see it being more useful than one of their existing machines.  Which turned out to be vaporware, just by the way - they never really produced a machine as far as I recall.

Music players.  Ditto.  I realised around that same time that if places could take the steps of - pressing to vinyl or CD, making album art, and shipping the physical product, - out of the supply chain, then they could deliver direct to the customer via dem tubes.  I was thinking of a home stereo component more than a piece of software like iTunes, but all the right concepts were there, including sending samples based on existing listening habits.   Chastened by the e-book reader debacle, I never followed up on this one.  One word.  Argh.

Charging any device via a single contactless (inductive) charging surface.  Would have required battery manufacturers to make batteries with a coil and voltage regulator built in, the pad would supply just an induced electric field.  Later I realised that if you had all that antenna already there, you could place a keyboard, a mouse, and a monitor on the same pad and keep them all powered by inductive power too, and also send the signals using low power transmissions via a scheme like Bluetooth.  (Which wasn't around back when I had this idea.)  But I notice a few ideas for inductive charging have surfaced but been slow to be taken up, and only now are manufacturers trying hard to get rid of the wire tangles, and maybe standardise power supplies/chargers to a single voltage with each battery having it's own individual regulator built in...

Solar power.  A way to get a few hours more charging time out of existing or new solar panel installations.  I still haven't seen anything else that is as easy to retrofit to existing installations as my concept, nor which would makes as important a difference to new solar electric generation equipment.

Water condensation from airborne humidity.  As soon as I put this idea on paper, I saw that someone had come up with a far more elegantly engineered and beautiful approach, so I gave it a miss.

Water recovery from ground water and grey water sources using solar energy: I still haven't seen any projects like my concept.

Location based phone services:  I wanted to develop this in 2005 - 2006, just that my partners and I fell in a heap because we were all time poor.  Now, it's all about GPS, GIS, and using them to deliver services locally.  Missed the boat on that one...

Solar powered, self-contained, wireless access point that works like a mesh networked repeater:  Seen Merakis?  They came along about two years later.  Sorry to my colleague whom I'll just call RC and who wrote this off as too hard to implement.  

Using electric/solar electric assistance for front wheel drive small cars:  Then came Prius...

That's just the "off the top of my head" list - there are a hundred that I didn't think would be important, and which are just rusting on the scrap heap.  Of the ten or fifteen ideas I've had that I thought were killer apps, about half have since proven out, just that it was someone else who developed the idea in parallel and managed to attract the right investor/developer/partner.

So here's my challenge, repeated again:  If you have a company that wants to develop a new idea, concept, device, or application - email me.  You can easily get my email out of my profile, or leave me a comment.  If you're anywhere I can get to reasonably easily, I'll come and see what you're doing, get involved with your processes for a while, and then see if I can't come up with your killer World Cam style idea that you can develop.  I'm semi retired and on a disability pension so I can spend a fair bit of time considering your sphere of business, and in return you'll treat me honorably and not just steal my idea without cutting me in on part of the action.  Can't get fairer than that...

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