The Worst Ideas. Updates every Monday!

Your weekly source for terrible ideas.

Category: Technology

Become fit & fashionable WHILE YOU COOK using this new fashion accessory and/or kitchen appliance!

Background:

A lot of kitchen tools have a non-electric version that is hand-cranked: for example, a coffee grinder, ice-cream maker, mixer, or salad-spinner. Additional common hand-powered items include the can opener and pepper mill.

The issue:

Unfortunately, many of these tools are slow and inefficient to operate by hand. However, if there were some way to operate the grinder by a larger muscle group (i.e. not the hands), it would be much easier to operate a coffee grinder or mixer without electricity.

Proposal:

In order to make it easy to operate one of these kitchen tools manually, the following is proposed:

  • The user can wear a belt with gear teeth on it (Figure 1). These teeth mesh with a corresponding gear on the kitchen appliance in question.
  • The user can then (slowly) spin around, and their large-diameter gear belt will cause an extremely fast rotation in the corresponding kitchen appliance gear (which is much smaller).

Fig. 1: The “gear belt” isn’t just a terrible steampunk fashion accessory, but is also a practical addition to your kitchen.

Although each appliance could have its own gearing system, it might be easier if the gears were built into the kitchen counter as shown in Figure 2. Otherwise, an activity like grinding coffee beans would require two people: one to spin around, and one to hold the coffee grinder.

 

 

shelf-with-gear-interface

Fig. 2: If the gearing system were built into a kitchen counter, the operator would be able to easily power any appliance that was fastened to the counter at location #3 (green, above).

 

sketch-gear-belt

Fig. 3: Example of how the coffee grinder would work, as drawn for a patent application.

Conclusion:

Next time you remodel your kitchen, make sure to include a gearing system in one of your kitchen counters.

PROS: Ecologically-friendly method of powering kitchen appliances. Also provides a great core workout.

CONS: May increase the value of your house too much, rendering you unable to sell it.

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Your slide presentation / PowerPoint presentation can be improved ENORMOUSLY with this one incredible presentation tip. Get the promotion that you deserve!

Background:

Slide presentations are now a main ingredient in almost all lectures and presentations (Figure 1).

 

table

Fig. 1: A simple presentation setup: laptop plus projector/screen.

The issue:

Computers have made slide presentations extremely easy to make (example in Figure 2), but haven’t helped with one issue: presentations often go on FAR TOO LONG.

For example, none of these ideas for promoting short presentations are available in standard presentation software (e.g. PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Slides).

  • Not a feature: A timer showing the elapsed time on a specific slide. This timer would change color once the user spent over-the-allocated amount of time on the slide.
  • Not a feature: A “progress bar” showing the position of the current slide in the entire slide deck.
  • Not a feature: A per-slide time estimation: if a 15-slide presentation has a 30-minute scheduled time, it should be trivial to display “You have an average of 2 minutes per slide.” This could be updated as the presentation went on; if the user takes 20 minutes to go through the first 5 slides, the remaining slides could display “10 minute remaining for 10 slides; you only have one minute for each of these slides!”
  • Not a feature: Allowing the software itself to automatically advance the slide when the user has dwelled on a slide for too long.

 

presentation-top-half.png

Fig. 2: A standard presentation: slides are shown along the top. The timer bar along the bottom (showing the total time consumed vs. the specific slides remaining) is a hypothetical feature that does not currently exist.

Proposal:

This proposal is for a flexible method of encouraging presenters to remain on schedule: the slide advance fire.

In this method, the slide deck is metaphorically on fire: all the slides in the slide deck are slowly consumed by a fire effect that moves through the entire slide deck (see Figure 3 for illustration), rendering the slides un-usable after a certain amount of time has elapsed.

The presenter can stay on a blackened-and-charred slide as long as they want (so they can continue to discuss a slide, or field questions from the audience, even after it has burned away), but the contents of the slide will no longer be visible.

This will also discourage presenters from cramming a slide full of text and then slowly reading the slide to their (presumably literate) audience.

presentation-burned

Fig. 3: Top: the second slide from the left is in the process of being consumed by the “slide advance fire.” The timer indicates that two minutes (2:00) have elapsed in the entire presentation.  Bottom: the second slide has been entirely consumed by fire, and only a glowing ember remains on the right edge. Hopefully the presenter has moved on to the next slide. Active slides also contain a timer in the bottom right (the small circle / stopwatch / pie chart), showing the remaining time until that slide burns up completely.

Implementation details:

  • The slide deck begins as normal.
  • Once a slide has appeared for more than five seconds, a timer starts and the slide “ignites”: the slide is now “on fire” and has a fixed amount of time before it burns away. (The reason for the five second delay is to prevent the slide from starting to burn due to an accidental “next slide” mis-click that is immediately corrected.)
  • After the allocated time has elapsed, a fire effect appears on the screen, and the slide begins to quickly burn away. Over the next ten seconds, the fire completely consumes the slide, leaving behind only a charcoal-black rectangle.
  • The user can still switch between slides normally, but burnt-out slides remain charred.
  • In order to prevent the user from just restarting the slide deck to circumvent this restriction, a minimum of four hours must elapse before the slide deck can be viewed again.

Optional idea #1:

  • Each slide could have a timer on it that is visible to the audience (as described in Figure 3—the circular timers in the bottom-right of the active slide), which would give the audience more of an appreciation for the punctuality of the presenter (assuming they managed to advance the slide before the slide burned away completely).

Optional idea #2:

  • One common presentation mistake is to just read a slide verbatim to the audience. The presentation computer could have speech recognition software on it, and if it detected that the presenter was reading a substantial fraction of a slide aloud, it could sound a warning siren and automatically advance to the next slide.

Conclusion:

This new presentation feature should immediately be implemented in Google Slides, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Apple Keynote, in addition to any other presentation programs that may exist in the future.

PROS: Prevents lectures, presentations, and meetings from going over time. Allows a lazy presenter to set the burn delay very low, allowing them to make confusing and terrible slides and rely on the “slide advance fire” to save them from any hard questions.

CONS: Would make it difficult to take questions from the audience (“Could you describe the X-axis on…. oh, it burned away.”). Would make it difficult to do a practice talk and immediately revise a slide deck while audience feedback was still fresh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a fancy individual who hates being delayed in elevators by lowly commoners, yet can’t justify putting in your own personal elevator? This new “executive fingerprint override” elevator button guarantees faster elevator transit.

The issue:

Imagine this situation:

You are a high-ranking member of the royal family. One day, you drive your expensive sports car to your downtown office, park it in the garage, and head to the elevator. You get in, and press the “6” button, to take the elevator to your sixth-floor office.

But as soon as the elevator doors close, you notice that 5 other people in the elevator have already made floor selections before yours—the buttons for 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are already lit up (Figure 1).

Now, even though the other people are only peasants, you still have to stop on all five floors before you can go to floor six!

Surely this situation has happened to all of us. Read on for a solution!

Fig. 1: Left: A standard elevator panel (it might be European, since it has both a “G” and a “1,” or perhaps the illustrator made a mistake). Right: if the buttons for floors 1 through 5 are lit up, a person who wants to go to floor 6 would have to stop at all five intermediate floors. . . until now, that is.

Proposal:

In order to solve this problem, we introduce new “override” fingerprint sensors: one for each each elevator button (Figure 2).

Someone with authorization can put their finger on the on the override sensor for their desired floor, and the elevator will travel to that floor first (additionally, the elevator will not stop to pick up any passengers on the way).

 

elev-print

Fig. 2: Each floor button has a fingerprint sensor next to it: if a high-ranking individual presses the fingerprint button, then all other elevator actions are cancelled, and the elevator goes directly to the desired floor. Fingerprint sensors are shown as separate buttons for clarity, but the sensors could also be directly integrated into each button.

As an example, if (A) the elevator is on floor 1, (B) buttons for 4, 6, and 8 are pressed, and (C) the high-ranking individual wants to go to floor 7, then the elevator will do the following:

  • Go directly (up) to floor 7. This is where the high-ranking individual wanted to go, so the elevator skipped floors 4 and 6.
  • Then, resume its normal behavior, as if the buttons for 4, 6, and 8 had just been pressed.
  • Since the elevator was traveling upwards, it will go to floor 8 next.
  • Since 8 is the top of the elevator’s current route, it will now become a “down” elevator.
  • Now that the elevator is traveling downwards, it will go to floor 6 and then floor 4.

Conclusion:

This system could also be used to give priority to various individuals; for example, what if both a duke and an earl use their fingerprint overrides—clearly the duke would have priority. Some cases may be less clear; does a baron outrank an archbishop? Undoubtedly, a complex set of rules would have to be included in the unlikely event that multiple high-ranking individuals entered an elevator at the same time.

PROS: Allows the rich and powerful to project their power in a new and unusual manner.

CONS: May cause a proletarian revolution to break out, which would have negative ramifications for the individuals who would make use of this elevator system.

Your true spirit animal is THE WHALE, mankind’s stalwart ally in the mammal-vs-fish battle of the seas. With this new incredible fishing attachment, you too can harness the POWER OF THE BALEEN WHALE.

Background:

Most methods of catching fish—with the notable exception of bare-hand catfish noodling (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noodling)—do not involve direct contact with the to-be-fished aquatic life.

diver

Fig. 1: This diver’s only wish is to catch a fissssssshhhhh, so juicy sweet.

Proposal:

In order to both:

  • make humans more attuned to nature
  • and to promote a fishing method that discourages overfishing…

…the following “baleen fishing attachment mesh” is proposed.

This “baleen mesh” is a grid that the diver attaches in front of themselves. The diver then swims through the ocean, causing tiny fish and crustaceans to become stuck in the grid. This process is illustrated in Figure 2.

Once the mesh is full, the diver can surface and scrape the accumulated krill / fish off the grid.

Essentially, a diver with this attachment becomes a baleen whale of sorts.

baleen-arrow

Fig. 2: The baleen fishing attachment (gray) is a new eco-friendly fishing method that should satisfy anyone who likes fishing or diving. Or who just really hates krill and wants to show them who’s boss.

Conclusion:

If you’ve ever wanted to be a baleen whale, this is probably the closest you will get. Unless they make a really immersive VR Whale Simulator, which is always possible.

PROS: An eco-friendly and in-tune-with-nature fishing method.

CONS: You might eat all the krill, causing real baleen whales to starve.

Uber and Lyft may have diminished the taxi medallion system, but the “medallion” idea can still be applied in other places! One weird local government tip.

Background:

Taxis in many cities operate under what is called a “medallion system” (Figure 1), whereby the supply of taxis is limited by a fixed quantity of tokens (“medallions”) that are issued in controlled quantities by the city.

taxi-medallion

Fig 1: An actual “taxi medallion” is apparently nothing like this.

Proposal:

For some reason, almost nothing else is regulated in this manner. But there are other services that are conceptually similar and could have their own “medallion” systems.

For example:

delivery-driving

Fig 2: Food delivery (e.g., pizza, Chinese food). Like a taxi, the driver operates a passenger automobile on public roads for commercial purposes.  A “delivery driving wedge” could be required in order for a business, such as a pizza restaurant, to deliver food.

dog-hypercube

Fig 3: Dog walkers make use of the public sidewalks and roads, and must abide by requirements that other pedestrians are not subject to (“pick up dog poop, do not allow the dog to bite anyone”). This “dog hypercube” would ensure that there was not an over-abundance of dogs on the sidewalks at any given time.

 

internet-cube

Fig 3: The medallion system could be applied to other activities with commercial potential.

  • Bicycles: Like a taxi, a bicycle consumes space on the public roads. Licensing of bicycles to a small number (see Figure 3, right side) would guarantee the availability of bike rack spots.
  • Internet usage could be prohibited without an “Internet cube” medallion (see Figure 3, left side). This could increase the available bandwidth for other purposes and could bring clients back to businesses like video rental companies and paper map retailers.

PROS: Opens up a new source of income: purchase a medallion, and then rent it out!

CONS: It may be difficult for City Hall employees to estimate the exact quantity of medallions to issue.

 

 

 

Here’s a tip obviously made by someone who hates shopping for clothes! Order your clothes online and be even more hermit-like with this one internet business scheme that someone probably patented in like 1994.

Background:

On many web sites for automotive parts (e.g. Amazon, AutoZone), you can specify the exact car that you own. Then, the web site will only show results that work with that car (Figure 1).

cars-your-garage

Fig 1: You can specify the details of the cars in your “garage” and will only see car parts that work with that specific car.

Proposal:

Strangely, almost no retail web sites let you do the same thing with human sizes.

Instead, you have to read through the reviews and try to parse other customers’ unreliable descriptions:

  • “RUNS SMALL, order one size up!”
  • “Narrow in the shoulders.”
  • “These socks are made to fit shoe sizes 4 through 16. Somehow.”
  • “Vanity sizing: the ’34’ is really a ’38’.”

Although human shapes don’t have easy-to-remember names like “1976 Dodge Dart,” there are still only a small and finite number of parameters that must be addressed.

To fix this, you should be able to either specify your particular measurements, or go to a retailer and get an “official” set of clothing measurements, and then input those in a web site, as shown in Figure 2.

From then on, it would flag each item of clothing as “FITS YOU” or “DOES NOT FIT YOU” (optionally; with a reason; for example, “These jeans are too long, but would otherwise fit you—add the ‘hem jeans’ option for $7.99.”)

clothing-size

Fig 2: After entering your clothing measurements on the web site, all clothing items will be marked as “fits you” or “unlikely to fit,” making it easy to buy clothes online.

PROS: Would make shopping for clothes online even easier than it already is!

CONS: People would need to be truthful with their actual dimensions. Fortunately, a tape measure is non-judgmental and is uninterested in feeble excuses.

International dignitaries love it: the “handshake-disinfecting tentacle noodle arm” is the next evolution of the handshake.

Background:

In the Western custom known as “the handshake,” two individuals greet each other by smooshing their hands together, transmitting every disease (Figure 1).

Additionally, this custom can serve as a mini-battle between people with differing ideas of handshake firmness.

1-hand

Fig 1: A clammy and moist hand is offered for your approval.

The issue:

There are two issues here:

  1. Diseases are transmitted
  2. A poor choice of angle, or unusually brittle bones, might cause you to lose the hand-crushing handshake battle

In order to alleviate both issues, the “handshake-disinfecting tentacle noodle arm” system is proposed.

Specifically, this is a set of extendable rubber arms that 1) spray a disinfectant on your hand and your handshake-target’s hand, and 2) optionally apply a strangling force to the opponent’s hand, assuring a victory in the handshake duel.

Figure 2 shows the handshake system in action, and figure 3 describes the internal mechanism.

2-tentaclization

Fig 2: A long-sleeved shirt sleeve conceals the pneumatically-activated tentacles that can be deployed upon successful handshake-docking. The “suckers” on the tentacles are actually for spraying an aerosolized disinfectant.

3-mechanism

Fig 3: Storage modules in the user’s sleeve contain the tentacles, the disinfectant, and the pressurized gas mechanism used to deploy them. A: Tentacle in folded form. B: Tentacle in the process of deployment.

PROS: All of them! Upgrades an ancient custom to the next level.

CONS: None.