The Worst Ideas. Updates every Monday!

Your weekly source for terrible ideas.

Category: Household

Phone manufacturers hate this one weird tip to save you HUNDREDS of dollars by not losing your phone! One frugal tip for saving money on smartphones (do not lose them).

The issue:

Cell phones occasionally fall out of a person’s pockets and get forgotten. This is especially easy to do when sitting on a sofa or in a movie theater seat.

If the phone could detect that it had been dropped into sofa cushions, it could notify you before it was too late to find it again!

sofa-phone-cushions

sofa-phone-here-exclamation

Fig. 1: Alas, this phone has fallen between sofa cushions and may soon be lost forever.

sofa-phone-here-it-is

Proposal:

The phone could use its microphone to detect the difference between “phone is in your pocket” and “microphone can only detected sounds that are muffled by sofa cushions” (Fig. 2).

sofa-phone-waveform

Fig. 2: Audio from two scenarios: “normal” (top, yellow) and “stuck in sofa cushions” (bottom, blue).

By listening to the phone’s microphone (and using the orientation sensors), the phone could distinguish between three situations:

  1. “In your pocket” (phone is slightly moving, but sounds are muffled)
  2. “On your desk” (phone is not moving, but background noise is crisp and clear, like a transparent apple)
  3. “Phone fell into the sofa” (phone is not moving, but sounds are muffled).

In case you are worried about the privacy implication of the constant use of the microphone, consider that all phones are monitoring you at all times anyway so that you can say “Hey Siri” / “Ok Google” in order to activate the voice assistant.

Thus, this additional monitoring would not be any more invasive than the current situation.

(Plus, the “fell into the sofa” detection could be done entirely on the phone, so it wouldn’t need to send any audio data to a remote server.)

sofa-phone-ring

Fig. 3: Once the phone detects that it has become trapped in the sofa, it can scream until you rescue it.

This feature could also be expanded to include things like:

  • The phone could detect that you have debarked your plane (or gotten off a train), but somehow the phone has been left behind, perhaps in one of those seat pockets.
  • The phone could detect that 1) it’s been several hours since it’s moved it all, 2) it’s close enough to see your own home WiFi network, and 3) the audio sensor informs it that it’s still in a pants pocket—this means you probably threw it into a laundry basket, so it should email you and/or start beeping so you don’t wash it.
  • The phone could detect that you were traveling by car and left your phone in the car. Then it could send you an email (“Hey, you left me in the car. –Your Phone”), which you would presumably receive on your laptop / desktop computer.

Conclusion:

Don’t buy a new phone unless it comes with this exciting new feature!

PROS: Saves you from many lost-phone mishaps.

CONS: Perhaps by further reducing the demands on humans to actually pay attention and keep track of things, future generations will become slothful and decadent.

The horrifying secret that APPLE, GOOGLE, and MICROSOFT don’t want you to know about laptop longevity! Stop being part of the “laptop rat race” with this new insane beverage-related tip. Tip number 5 will shock you!

Background:

Millions of laptops are destroyed every year by spilled drinks (Figure 1). Unfortunately, this is a difficult problem to address, because laptops and beverages are frequently in close proximity.

normal-laptop-and-water

spill

Fig. 1a (top) and 1b (bottom): You have probably either experienced this situation first-hand or observed it happen to someone else. If only there had been some warning ahead of time about the peril the laptop was in!

Proposal:

If the glass-full-of-liquid danger were more immediately obvious, many laptops could be saved from a thirst-quenching death—the laptop user would simply need to place the drink slightly farther away from the laptop than they normally would.

By adding a ring of laser emitters to the beverage container, the spill danger can be made obvious: the lasers will project a circular “spill danger zone” on the table, informing you of any imperiled electronics (Figure 2).

danger-zone

Fig. 2: The laser emitters on the top of the glass (shown as red triangles) project a “spill danger zone” region around the glass. You should move any sensitive electronics outside of this area.

An advanced model of this idea could also have an integrated camera: this would allow it to only project the “danger zone” markings if it actually detected an object in the spill area, instead of all the time (which might get annoying).

PROS: Saves your laptop from destruction!

CONS: The lasers might melt people’s eyeballs when you raise the glass to drink from it.

 

Life hack: use a wedge of Gouda cheese as an eco-friendly doorstop to save space in your pantry. BIG DOORSTOP hates this tip!

Background:

Doorstops are pretty convenient for holding doors open.

doorstop-or-cheese

Fig. 1: A doorstop. Or a wedge of cheese. OR PERHAPS BOTH??

The issue:

But sometimes, propping open a door is FORBIDDEN due to fire regulations—the door might need to be closed in order to slow the spread of fire (Fig. 2).

Although there exist magnetic doorstops that connect to the fire alarm, it’s very likely that the door that you want to prop open isn’t set up this way. Read on for the solution!

doorstop-problem

Fig. 2: Unfortunately, this door needs to be able to close in case of fire (left), so the doorstop at right is forbidden.

Proposal:

A new, futuristic type of electrical doorstop can be set up to automatically detect fire alarm conditions and get out of the way (allowing the door to close).

The primary idea is that the “collapsable fire-safe doorstop” has a microphone, and if it detects the sound of the fire alarm, it will instantly flatten down to a wafer-thin state, allowing the door to swing closed (Figures 3 and 4).

doorstop-diagram-side-view.png

future-doorstop.png

Fig. 3: The collapsable fire-safe doorstop. A) Microphone and optical sensor, for detecting a fire alarm. B1/B2) Hinged doorstop pieces. The red hinge between B1 and B2 will open in case of fire. C1/C2) Flat end caps for the doorstop. D1/D2) A hook mechanism that normally keeps the doorstop in a wedge shape. It will unhook in order to let the doorstop flatten itself.

doorstop-diagram.png

Fig. 4: The doorstop detects a fire (top) and disengages the hooks that keep it in a triangular shape (middle), finally flattening out to allow the door to pass over it (bottom).

The doorstop would need to be battery powered, but it could presumably run for months or years on just a single watch battery. The closure mechanism (the gray hooks in the figure) could presumably also be set up to require a tiny amount of electrical power in order to stay connected. In this way, the doorstop could automatically flatten when the battery ran out, which would prevent a dead battery from being a fire hazard.

fire

Fig. 5: Do not open a door with a fire on the other side unless it gives the correct password.

PROS: Allows you to prop open that one annoying hallway door that everyone is opening and closing constantly.

CONS: It’s yet another electronic gizmo that requires battery monitoring and replacement.

The three weird buttons that will stop procrastination forever! You will shriek and wail when you think of all the procrastination you did before you had these!

The issue:

Sometimes, it’s difficult to avoid being distracted by the wide variety of enticing modern entertainment options. It’s always possible to physically unplug your Internet router and turn off your phone, but most people aren’t going to do that on a regular basis.

Proposal:

An individual could purchase a set of wireless buttons that would have various effects, for example:

  • Turn off the Internet for a set period of time, forcing the button-owner to actually work / read a book / interact with other people (Fig 1).

  • Turn off the lights until the next morning, preventing the button-owner from staying up incredibly late (Fig 3).

  • Lock the fridge and kitchen cabinets for a certain period of time, preventing casual snacking.

Here are three buttons that may be of general interest:

do-work-button

Fig 1: This is basically a “NO INTERNET” button—it’s time to do work with no interruptions! When you press this button, your phone locks you out entirely, your TV refuses to turn on, and your router blocks most Internet traffic (i.e., video sites, social media traffic, instant messaging) and temporarily stops fetching incoming emails.

This one also doubles as a “read a book” or “actually interact with other humans” button!

hold-my-calls-button

Fig 2: Work is over! Time to relax. Your work email won’t be checked until the next morning and any work-related phone apps are paused. If you have any work-only contacts, their calls to you go straight to voicemail. I hope you have a 9-to-5 job and aren’t on-call, or else you will definitely get fired if you push this button!

sleep-button

Fig 3: This button returns your house to caveman times, because it’s time to actually go to sleep! Your computer and phone now refuse to let you log in until the next sunrise, your TV and stereo refuse to turn on, and your house’s lights are limited to 10% of their normal brightness.

PROS: Allows you to behave as if you  have self-control!

CONS: Requires installation of phone and computer applications. You might become so dependent on these buttons that you forget how to survive without them!

Clawed beasts will rend your flesh unless you obey this one weird tip! Cats and homeowners hate it!

Background:

As you are no doubt aware, the humble housecat is one of the world’s most popular pets.

cat

Fig 1: A standard issue cat. This is the base model.

The issue:

Sometimes, a cat needs to be taken somewhere, and this typically requires a cat carrier. But most cats are hesitant to enter a cat carrier, and a cat-stewarding individual may have to resort to increasingly desperate measures in order to solve the cat-to-carrier conundrum.

cat-into-carrier-how

Fig 2: The cat needs to go into the cat carrier. BUT HOW?? This clawed feline has its own ideas about where it should be. Specifically: elsewhere.

Proposal:

Although it may be possible to disguise the cat carrier and somehow trick the cat into enter it, the most straightforward solution is to simply purchase a giant funnel and bolt it to the wall of a house (Fig 3). Then, the cat-loading procedure is straightforward, as seen in figure 3.

funnel

Fig 3: The process is simple: Once the cat carrier is in place below the funnel, we must simply 1) raise the cat to the lip of the funnel and drop it in. 2) gravity does the rest! Note: for especially fragile felines, a pillow may be placed on the side (bottom, in this orientation) of the carrier in order to soften the deceleration process. If the cat fails to slide down the funnel properly, one may apply olive oil or an industrial engine lubricant to the sides of the funnel to expedite the procedure.

PROS: Makes loading a cat into a cat carrier a straightforward and pleasant process.

CONS: Having an industrial-grease-covered cat in a cat carrier is actually a new problem of its own, which unfortunately we do not have the space to solve here.


Sponsored Tip (BELOW): One weird tip to reducing the number of annoying comments on your web site! Filter out comments by keyword using these three words, and watch your comment problems evaporate. (Tip is optimized for the English language, and may fail to detect many spam comments.)

one-weird-tip-to-removing-dumb-comments


 

 

 

 

Stop fighting over toilet paper roll orientation! Peace in our time.

Background:

There are two common orientations for toilet paper; “over” (sheet falls forward, away from the wall) and “under” (sheet falls backward, next to the wall).

tp-roll-methods

Fig 1: Two toilet paper roll orientations. Left: the proper “over” orientation, for civilized individuals. Right: the incorrect “under” orientation, favored by subhuman beasts who can barely be considered human, such is their depravity.

Issue and proposal:

Some individuals have strong opinions about toilet paper roll orientation. But in the interest of peace and harmony, here in Figure 2 is proposed a method that will cause both sides to be content.

tp-roll-swivel

Fig 2: The roll holder. Toilet paper roll goes onto the gold-colored section (at left). Instead of being fixed to the wall, the holder can pivot 180 degrees. Although in this diagram, the roll would slip right off the gold section, ingenious designers have figured out many mechanisms for affixing toilet paper rolls in this fashion (for example, a mushroom-shaped “cap” piece, or rounded pins that can be pressed in to add or remove a roll, but prevent it from sliding out under normal conditions).

P.S. While this image kind of looks like a duck face & beak (looking to the left) in thumbnail form, note that 1) the yellow part is NOT a duck beak, and 2) a duck cannot be ethically used as a paper roll holder.

tp-roll-pivot-sketch

Fig 3: Artist’s rendition of pivoting roll.

tp-roll-turn

Fig 4: A detailed examination of the pivoting process.

Conclusion:

It is actually baffling that this device is not a commonly seen item in “Skymall”-like catalogues of household oddities. “Pivoting toilet paper holder” sounds like it would be an online search term that would find such a thing, but somehow it did not!

PROS: Prevents strife due to toilet paper roll orientation disagreement.

CONS: Perhaps it is true that humans will fight the same amount no matter what their situation; maybe the lack of “release valve” strife due to toilet paper towel orientation will end up eventually causing a national bloodbath due to arguments over how to properly hold a fork instead.

 

You’ll never believe the horrifying hotel room scene that awaited one guest! Because you aren’t a gullible rube.

Background:

When renting a hotel room or apartment, usually one is treated to a boring combination of standard amenities. Bed, table, chairs, etc.

Proposal:

But what if, instead, a rental could also be the stage for an Agatha Christie-like murder mystery scene? Then the guest would have the opportunity to engage in Sherlock Holmes-esque crime scene at their leisure in an interesting location.

The idea would work as follows:

  • A client books a hotel room or short-term rental.
  • The rental unit is staged to look like a classic murder mystery scene. Perhaps a chalk outline of a body is the initial clue that is found on the living room floor.
  • Additional clues are found throughout the house to point to a list of possible suspects and give clues as to their motives.
  • For example: a will with a forged signature. A defaced portrait of one of the heiress’s daughters. Receipts for hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt from failed financial speculation. A cache of fake passports. And more!
  • Finally, the client has the time of their entire stay to solve the mystery. Whether they solve it successfully or not, they will get a letter later indicating the aftermath of the investigation. For example: “Good work, we apprehended the real killer!” or “Whoops, you falsely accused the butler of murder!”

hotel-murder-mystery-chalk.png

Fig 1: The rental apartment would be indistinguishable from any other high-class rental except for the chalk victim outline and miscellaneous clues strewn about the premises.

PROS: Could increase the rate of repeat patronage at participating rental units.

CONS: “HORRIFYING MURDER HOUSE” and “comfortable vacation rental” would, if made into two Venn diagram circles, probably have a low degree of overlap.