Saturday, 17 July 2010


If you think something's wrong with you, the you are right, if it is the case that "normal" doesn't think there's something wrong with them.

Walkie talkie app

I'd like to see an app for smartphones that turns a phone call into a push-to-talk two-way radio, complete with synthetically generated static. Obviously the functionality is actually reduced, but it would be good fun for kids to pretend to be police/army/etc, making covert radio transmissions.

Platform game on skyline

With augmented reality and a head mounted display I'd like to be able play a platform game of the skyline I can see, whether that be buildings, trees, mountains, etc. The key technology is being able to detect the skyline. The skyline itself may need to be augmented to make the game possible (e.g. if a jump between building is too great, a platform is put between them) and more interesting. It would be possible to play unique games on the world's famous skylines (e.g. the pyramids, New York, etc).

Version control embedded in files

Why don't files incorporate version control in them? e.g. each word file having stored within it all previously saved versions.

Lemmings screensaver

I want a screensaver of random lemmings levels being completed by the computer.

CCTV view

It would be interesting if, walking down the street, you could watch yourself on the CCTV cameras that can see you, on a head mounted display (video glasses). Using GPS technology, the view would automatically shift to the nearest CCTV camera that has you in its field of vision.

Monday, 12 July 2010

What social change do I want technology to deliver?

  • Global democracy
  • Lower corruption
  • Less selfish behaviour
  • Greater wealth equality


I want a bar and a milkshake-like drink that are nutritionally complete, i.e. if you ate nothing but the bar or the drink you would have a complete and balanced diet. All macro and micro nutrients included in the appropriate concentration. It must taste ok, and have a good shelf life.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Thoughts on music players

I want one-touch-operated, instantaneously-operational, advert-free, DJ-free music in every room of the house, without excessive wiring. What are the options?
  • Media server + wifi speakers
  • Wifi radios (no need to run media server 24/7)
Or perhaps I should have a TV in every room? Again one touch to start/play and instantly operational. Option to access digital media collection (music, playlists, films, pictures).

Relative comfort of heat, humidity and air flow rate

I would like to do some experimentation on the relative comfort of heat, humidity and air flow rate, producing an "air comfort index" that takes into account all three. This might be done by having two waiting rooms controlled at different heat, humidity and air flow rates, and seeing which one people choose to sit in.

Sofa covers

Sofa throws cause me emotional distress. They only remain neat and tidy until someone sits on the sofa, after which they become a mess of folded fabric half falling off the furniture. But throws are also great: they can be changed to suit the colour of the room (or season, or day of the week); they can be replaced if stained. So how to get the benefits without the downsides? Fitted throws. The problem with this is that they are more restricted to particular sofas, increasing the cost. So...

I would quite like to see the modularisation and standardisation of sofas to facilitate the market in fitted covers. Beds, duvets and pillows have standard sizes.

In the shortterm, I would like a sofa that uses fitted bed sheets and pillow cases. The sofa uses a single mattress for the bit you sit on, and has back cushions the size that will fit pillow cases. As there are already so many colours and patterns of sheets and pillow cases out there, this would allow significant customisation of the sofa. (and ease of washing)

I'm sure there is a business opportunity for a company to make sofa frames and cushions that fit standard size fitted sheets and pillow cases. The sofa arms are the most difficult, possibly a cushion that sits vertically in a slot between the mattress and a wooden wall, or one that forms an 'n' shape over a wooden arm.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Technological stabilisation

I have been reading recently about the possibility of a Technological Singularity. There are some impressive graphs showing the rate of change of technology. This is certainly interesting, but I am a little skeptical. If we look one variable of technology, the speed of the fastest public transportation (see graph below), we find that this has actually dropped and plateaued in recent years. The reasons for this are: physical limits (the sound barrier) and associated costs; demand (you can get all the way around the Earth in 24h). There is a maximum acceleration that the human body can tolerate, which will dictate speed in the long term (until we enhance or transcend our biological existence, develop warp or develop wormholes).

Friday, 9 July 2010

What to reward?

If we reward raw talent we are unfair to those born without it. If we reward hard work we encourage neglect of other aspects of life (especially family, health). So what should we reward? Balance: those who attain and maintain a well balanced life. Does society currently do this? No. Could it? Possibly, but measuring balance is even more difficult than measuring talent and hard work.

[N.B. can substitute “praise” for “reward”, although I see “praise” as a hyponym of “reward”]

Are search engines a stop gap measure?

At the outset of the World Wide Web, when there was little order to the vast amount of information on the internet, search engines were essential in finding what you wanted. But as information is ordered, and databases built, their role becomes less and less important. If you want to look up a movie, you could use a search engine, or you could use IMDB (Internet Movie DataBase). As more websites (online databases), that are equivalently comprehensive, are created, the importance of the search engine is increasingly diminished. So, why isn’t Google (both exposed to this trend and cash rich) not buying up and developing these databases?

[N.B. obviously search is still necessary in the sense of database queries, but I see this as different to a search engine's database of crawled websites]

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Bike brake lock

Another thought on bike locks: what about a way of locking you brakes on (with key or code). This provides a quick convenient way to lock your bike for a short period of time.

Hoover cord bike lock

You know how the power cord for hoovers is on a springloaded coil, such that it is retracted into the body of the box when it is not needed. Wouldn't that be good for cable bike locks? The coil container could be firmly attached to the bike. The cord is extended from the container round a lamppost (or some such) and then locked to the container (the lock is built in). This way, you wouldn't need to worry about carrying the lock around with you (only the key or code) as it's already part of the bike.

Friday, 2 July 2010

No need for laptop external monitor

Why do we need separate monitors for laptops? Because working on a laptop for a long time can cause strain on the neck as the screen is too low and too close. I suggest that rather than use a separate monitor, the laptop monitor can be extended away from the laptop based, probably with a multi-stage extensor to get sufficient distance. The screen would need to be light enough and the base heavy enough that it wouldn't tilt back, but given the weight of current laptops (and hence their screens) this seems plausible. If this is not possible then an extendable downwards support from the monitor would be needed.