“You have to free your brain to roam to places that are a little impractical, and innovation consultants have come up with some great ways to encourage that. One of my favorites comes from Legrand, who tells people in group brainstorming sessions to try to come up with the WORST possible ideas that they can think of … Once you have a list of really, really bad suggestions – and coming up with them does force your brain to work in a different way – you try to flip them over into the positive.” — Amanda Lang
How many new products and inventions can you dream up with in thirty minutes? At least a few if you know the techniques of innovation and creative problem solving. The following are thirty minute’s worth, with some notes at how they were arrived at.
New Products and Inventions From Old
A fast way to invent new things is to start with existing concepts and find new applications. With the concept of inflatable things, the first thing that comes to my mind is inflatable shelters for emergency situations, such as after earthquakes or hurricanes. Such shelters could be transported easily, and erected quickly with a simple air pump. A basic large tent design, but with inflatable ribs instead of poles might work.
We can always find new products and inventions for babies. Inflatable cribs or playpens come to mind. Deflated, they could be folded up and stored almost anywhere. A simple design for a playpen might be a plastic floor with a simple wall that surrounds it and is attached to it. Think of air mattresses for swimming, set on their sides, connected end to end and wrapped into a circle and you’ll get the idea.
When we used to go “tubing” down rivers in Michigan, we were forever trying new ways to carry a cooler with us while keeping it convenient to get a soda or beer out of it. A solution could be an inflatable bar. It might have a cooler built into it, have can and glass holders, and maybe even a secure place to set snacks. It could be used in a pool, lake or river.
Many people drive into water and die each year. One solution to this problem might be inflatable flotation that is activated when the car begins to sink. They would quickly inflate in an accident involving submersion, and would keep the car afloat. Put one in the trunk, and another inside the car, or have them come out from the wheel wells. To avoid accidental inflation, the triggering device would be activated by water, but be in a place where rain and car washing water couldn’t reach.
Vending Machine Products and Inventions
When I considered the concept of vending machines, the first thing that came to mind was a beer machine. It could only be used in a bar that was restricted to adults, of course. A big benefit is that it would lessen the need for bartenders, since half of all the drinks sold in a bar are just simple beers. It is an innovation that could be implemented tomorrow, using beer in cans in existing pop machines.
A vending machine for books and magazines might do decent business in an airport, bus station or other places where people are forced to sit for hours. They may already exist, but I haven’t seen them yet. Add some padding to the drop chute, and existing snack vending machines could be used.
They sell phone cards everywhere now, but I haven’t yet seen them in vending machines. You could also sell those collapsible umbrellas from a machine. There are dozens of other things that could be profitably sold from vending machines. Use simple techniques like this extension of existing concepts, and there are also thousands of other new products and inventions waiting to be made.