The Worst Ideas. Updates every Monday!

Your weekly source for terrible ideas.

Tag: amazing idea

Podiatrists hate it! Throw away your obsolete footwear and prostrate yourself before the new ultimate invention, the “shruler.” You’ll never believe what happens in the last paragraph!

The issue:

If you’re reading this, it is overwhelmingly likely that you own at least one pair of shoes.

But your shoes are probably single-purpose products that have thus far been left out of the multi-purpose-product revolution.

Your phone is also a camera, map, flashlight, web browser, and more—why are your shoes just shoes and nothing else?

This is especially troublesome since shoes are something that people have on or near their person all the time. Why not add useful functionality to these ever-present items?

shoe-regular

Fig 1: An old fashioned shoe with no additional features.

Proposal:

There are many possibilities for adding Swiss-army-knife-like additional functionality to shoes. In decreasing order of plausibility:

  • A ruler.
  • Wireless house keys / car keys (a remote bluetooth / WiFi / RFID sensor that will automatically unlock your front door or start your car).
  • “Medic alert” bracelet info. If you are unconscious, paramedics can check the bottom of your shoe for a list of allergies.
  • A backup cell phone battery in the heel.
  • An entire backup cell phone. Just be sure to keep it charged! This is basically the shoe from the 1965 TV series “Get Smart.”
  • An inflatable life vest, in case you fall off a ferry. Water-soluble shoelaces will prevent you from being trapped upside-down in your life-vest-shoes once you fall into the water.
  • An emergency beacon, like the ones that can be rented / bought for a long hiking / camping trip in the wilderness.
  • Bear repellant. Click your heels together, and a huge aerosolized cloud of bear-repellant will spray out everywhere.

shoe-ruler

Fig 2: With this shoe ruler, or “shruler,” an architect or interior designer would never have a problem determining exact dimensions. Not useful in case of bear attacks, however.

Conclusion:

Now you can shop for function, fashion, AND features next time you buy footwear!

PROS: Medic alert and emergency beacon shoes may save thousands of lives a year.

CONS: You might be wearing the wrong shoes for the occasion; maybe a bear attacks you while you’re wearing the life vest shoes, or you fall off a boat while wearing the anti-bear shoes.

The true secret of DOGS—never need to walk your dog again! Tip number five will HORRIFY you.

Background:

Dogs! You sometimes need to walk them, but maybe you don’t want to.

Sure, you could walk your dog on a treadmill or giant hamster wheel inside the house (Fig 1), but maybe you still want to give your dog the authentic outdoor-walk experience. Currently: not possible.

turnspit-dog-ancient-times

Fig 1: Ancient people knew that a “turnspit dog” could be an all-natural eco-friendly power source for charging a cell phone. Image is from a historical woodcut.

Proposal:

A human on a dog walk typically provide two things: 1) navigation guidance and 2) the ability to pull on a dog’s leash if necessary.

As described below, we can easily replicate these two factors without requiring a human to go on the walk (Figs. 2a, 2b):

dog-harness

Fig 2: The dog will wear a  sweater-like harness (blue) with an attachment point at the top. This harness should also include a GPS tracker.

dog-leash

Fig 3: This attachment point will have an articulated set of powered joints coming out of it, which will support a false hand (green) that holds the leash (yellow). The hand can be remotely controlled to pull the leash in various directions. (The harness provides the support / counter-force to allow the hand to pull on the leash.)

Once the harness is properly attached, and the leash is affixed to the artificial hand, the dog is ready for a walk!

dog-backwarddog-forward

Fig 4: By extending the hand backward or forward, the dog will feel as if it is being pulled in that direction (although the harness/hand combination is not capable of pulling the entire dog in any direction at all).

We have two options for actually controlling the hand:

  1. The walk could be handled automatically by a computer (using the GPS data to control the hand
  2. Or a human operator could manually direct the leash-holding hand, as shown in figure 5.

dog-cam

Fig 5: A camera attachment will allow the dog operator to see where they are going. For the ultimate experience, a 360° camera could be attached to allow for immersive telepresence operation via VR goggles.

PROS: Now you can walk your dog while in the safety and comfort of your own house!

CONS: May cause the powerful dog-walking industry to collapse, so there will be lots of opposition from “Big Dog-Walking.”

dog-walks-itself

Supplementary Figure A: Artist’s original rendition of the dog-walking system. Captions are hand-lettered in ink.

sketch-dog-1

Supplementary Figure B: Material for a future patent filing.

sketch-dog-2

Supplementary Figure C: Additional material for a future patent filing. Original idea, do not steal.

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.

 

7 Cats From the 80s That You Won’t Believe Where They Are Now (On Airplanes)

Background:

First: Somehow, there exists such a thing as a “Cat Cafe” (Wikipedia link). As the name implies, it’s a cafe with cats running amok inside.

Second: many people find air travel to be an annoying and stressful experience.

Proposal:

Cuddly animals frequently improve situations. In order to make air travel more pleasant (and profitable for the airline?), the Cat Cafe concept can be applied to air travel as well. We will refer to this as the “Cat Cafe Airline.”

Potential features of Cat Cafe Airline:

  • Each plane would be equipped with a menagerie of fluffy domesticated beasts.
  • These soothing animals would be allowed to wander about the plane.
  • First-class seats would have first pick, and would have exclusive access to giant cats like the Maine Coon and Longcat.

cat-cafe-overhead-bin-regular

Fig 1: A regular (cat-free) airline overhead bin is cold, sterile, and unwelcoming.

Methods of supplying cats to passengers:

  • One option would be to have a “cat cart” in addition to the normal coffee / lunch cart. Instead of specifying a preference for (say) coffee or tea, passengers would choose between siamese and calico.
  • Alternatively, cats could normally live in the overhead bins, and would only exit them while the plane was in flight (to make room for luggage). It is unclear if the cats’ sleeping schedule would easily align with the in-use flight time of the airplane.

cat-cafe-overhead-bin-with-cats

Fig 2: With dozens of cats inside, the airline overhead bin takes on a warmer and more welcoming appearance.

Other concerns:

  • People with cat allergies would obviously be advised not to book a flight on a “cat plane.”
  • In some cultures, animals such as pigs and dogs are considered “unclean” and anathema. It is possible that cats also have a bad rap in certain cultures, which might limit locations where these planes could fly.
  • With this many cats, cat fights might be inevitable. Fortunately, using their in-seat entertainment systems, passengers could bet on the outcome, and the airline could take a cut. This solves the problem without any heavy-handed cat regulation.

PROS : Opens up new business opportunities and soothes passengers on long-haul flights. No animals were harmed in the making of this proposal.

CONS: Cats might escape while a plane is grounded on an exotic unspoiled island, potentially soon exterminating all native life and becoming adorable apex predators.

When a bike thief steals this bike with a horn, you won’t believe what happens next (SHOCKING)

The issue:

Bike theft is rampant in most places in the US. The solution so far has been increasingly huge and heavy locks / chains. Eventually, people will probably have to weld their bikes to nearby objects, or use quick-setting concrete, in order to prevent them from being stolen.

 

bike-logo

Figure 1: A bike (do not steal)

The idea:

Provide a subtle theft deterrent that would not be obvious to the thief. This way, they would ride off with the bike, thinking they had disabled the only security (the chain / U-lock).

Normally, the deterrent in question here would be a GPS tracker, so the bike could (theoretically) be recovered, with great effort. However, the police are unlikely to raid an apartment building based on the knowledge that a stolen bike is possibly inside.

So we turn to another option:

A extremely loud air horn is attached somewhere on the bike, preferably pointing toward the rider. It must be securely attached and difficult or impossible to easily remove or disable. Perhaps it would be built into the frame, or in a secure metal box.

The air horn is connected via a sensor to the wheel. Once the wheel has rotated a certain number of times (say, 50), if the air horn has not been deactivated beforehand, it activates and doesn’t stop until it has been totally expended.

bike-horn

Figure 2: A “do not steal me” rider-facing bike horn. In reality, it would need to be attached to the handlebars more securely than shown in this diagram.

Presumably, a thief would prefer to abandon the bike instead of be deafened by it or hang around to likely reprisal while the horn exhausts itself.

(In order to deactivate the horn, there would be a button on it that the rightful owner would need to press BEFORE the horn went off. The horn could also make a few warning noises in order to remind an absentminded rider to disable the horn before it was too late.)

PROS: Non-lethal theft deterrent. Presumably would not introduce the owner to liability in the same way as a standard booby trap (e.g. a “bike thief bear trap” would be frowned upon by the courts, even if it was effective in capturing its prey).

CONS: Adds a tiny amount of weight to your bike, so not suitable for the Tour de France or similar competitions. Otherwise, none.