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Good Thinking

The Intelligent ScareCrow

October 17, 2006 Though it was designed to assist in keeping London’s fox population away from residents’ gardens, the Intelligent ScareCrow is equally applicable to protecting plants and ponds from cats, possums, raccoons, deer and heron. The ScareCrow detects animals as they approach and deters them with a spray of water. London’s urban fox population, estimated at more than 10,000, provided the necessity that became the mother of this invention as it was causing problems for homeowners and businesses wishing to keep their premises fox free. A product of the city’s post-war expansion into the rural suburbs in the 1930s, urbanized red foxes have adapted to life on the outskirts, and as their rural habitat continues to shrink, have spread into the centre of London to take up residence throughout the city, including the grounds at Buckingham Palace, City Hall, Downing Street, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Read More

The world's most expensive bottled water - US$40 a bottle

October 15, 2006 Just how do you differentiate a product like bottled water? It’s an important question when you realise that Americans drink more than 25 billion litres of bottled water a year at prices greater than gasoline. Bottled water sales have risen 50% per person in less than a decade, which isn’t bad for a core product that varies little, and is at least a thousand times more expensive than tap water which is readily available as an alternative. In Europe, water is even bigger business – Western Europeans drink more than half the world’s bottled water. The winning answer to the differentiation question in 2006 was to add a magazine to the bottle, but there are thousands of brands out there and some of them are very clever. For all those people for whom only an ostentatious display of wealth will do is Bling H2O. Available in US$40 750ml and US$24 350ml versions, the frosted, corked bottles are emblazoned with hand-applied, Swarovski crystals. Not surprisingly, the newspapers are reporting that the Goddess of conspicuous consumption Paris Hilton “has tasted the water” as has her dog Tinkerbell. (she sure gets a lot of press for a gal that don’t do much). The drink has also shown up at the Grammy's, Emmy's and MTV Video Music Awards in the hands of celebrities such as Jamie Foxx, Mariah Carey and Shaquille O'Neal. Bling H2O is the creation of Hollywood writer-producer Kevin G. Boyd who knows the importance of image and what your choice in bottled water conveys to the public. In Hollywood it seems the bottled water one carries has become an important prop and it has become the land of the upmarket waters - bottles are becoming statements of coolness and Bling H2O was fashioned to make a defining statement. The mission was to offer a product with an exquisite face to match exquisite taste. The product is strategically positioned to target the expanding super-luxury consumer market. Bling H2O has been featured at many recent celebrity events including the MTV Video Music Awards and television’s biggest event, The Emmys. Our favourite quote on the subject was Adjab, which said that it proved the old adage that it's really easy to get rich people to fork over cash for stupid reasons.  Read More

TWELV - a new way to display time

October 12, 2006 There’s always a better way, but sometimes the scale of the change required to do it differently is several orders of magnitude too big. We suspect that was why Professor Richard Conn Henry’s proposal of an unquestionably better calendar and time system was never seriously considered. Fortunately, Inventerprise’s new way to display time can co-exist with current time systems. The newly patented TWELV system breaks from centuries-old tradition, dispensing altogether with the use of any hour hand or hour digit. Instead, each individual hour of the day is represented solely by one of twelve unique colors. There are some undeniable benefits for the new system though, as it requires a footprint less than half that of standard time format, the colors can be recognized correctly at great distances. It means that one clock beacon could be used as a clock in a city environment. Similarly, ambient lighting or a water fountain or a fishtank can become a clock … and the killer-app is that the footprint for the time display is MUCH smaller than conventional time displays either digital or analog, making it ideal for mobile phones, wearable audio players, and other mobile devices where display space is always at a premium. As for memorizing the colors, just start using the clock and it happens naturally; that's just how the human brain works. The system is patented in the United States, but it’s public domain everywhere else.  Read More

Initiatives to harness the power of collective intelligence

October 12, 2006 Friday the thirteenth is a date not often associated with glorious new beginnings but tomorrow sees the launch (webcast live here at 12:55 PM EST on October 13th, 2006) of a significant new institution that might have far reaching consequences for the way human beings go about their business, organise and run their communities and indeed, run the planet. It’s the official start date for the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI) which has the ambitious goal of understanding how to harness the power of large numbers of people—connected together through Internet and other technologies —to better solve a range of business, scientific, and societal problems. Though its agenda is broad and grand, one of the announcements tomorrow will be more focussed - an experiment to create a Wikipedia-style book about how to use communities in business. We Are Smarter Than Me is a business community formed by business professionals to research and discuss the impact of social networks on traditional business functions. Everyone is invited to participate in a revolutionary publishing project - a "network book" to be published in 2007. Each contributing member of this beta community will be listed as an author of the book, and each will receive an equal vote on the distribution of book royalties to charity. The We Are Smarter Than Me community is seeking real examples of companies who are trying to harness the power of community. Just think - this could be the start of a whole new way of doing things - contribute if you can.  Read More

Magazine on a Bottle wins international awards

October 7, 2006 One of our favourite ideas, the Magazine on a Bottle, has landed the Best Label and Best Overall Concept awards at the 2006 Bottled Water World Design Awards. The awards recognize the design innovation of the On Product Publishing concept and its contribution to the bottled water industry, though we see the potential for the concept in everything from iced coffee, caffeinated softdrink and soda, through to franchise chains, (such as Starbucks, McDonalds and even oil companies) developing their own product/communication platform combination. The company has already developed iLove, the first magazine to appear on a bottle of water and opened the beverage industry to the concept of On Product Publishing (OPP). The company’s On Product Publishing label technology opens up new marketing and revenue channels by combining publishing with consumer goods and OPP has recently signed licensing agreements in Europe and Australia. The winners of the 2006 Bottled Water World Design Awards were announced at a gala dinner at San Pellegrino Casino, as part of the Zenith International Global Bottled Water Congress in Bergamo, Italy.  Read More

Unbelievable – a hand-drier that actually works

October 4, 2006 James Dyson has done it again and this time he’s invented a hand drier that uses just 15-25% of the electricity of common hand driers, costs around 20-25% of the annual running costs of the current crop and it’s significantly more hygienic into the bargain. Most significantly, it’ll get your hands dry before you die of old age – the Dyson airblade dries hands in about ten seconds which is at least twice as fast as most common hand driers. Hallelujah brothers and sisters – this is one of those inventions that’s been obviously required for a long time. The airblade produces a stream of unheated air flowing at 400mph to do the job.  Read More

The tree-of-knowledge building

October 4, 2006 The Pierres Vives building for the French Department of Herault on the edge of Montpellier is unique in that it will be a combination of three civic institutions - the archives, the library and the sports department - within a single envelope. Given the contained programs, the spectacular design is inspired by the idea of a 'tree of knowledge' as an organizational diagram. The archive is located at the solid base of the trunk, followed by the slightly more porous library, with the sports department and its offices on top where the trunk bifurcates and becomes much lighter. Designed by Stephane Hof of Zaha Hadid Architects, work is due to start on site at the end of this year. The image library for this article is a must for those who appreciate the finest architectural design.  Read More

The Wallet 2.0

October 2, 2006 We’ve seen several new ideas for carrying one’s valuables in the form of the Jimi wallet and the Tsaya Thigh Holster for gals who don’t like to carry handbags but both are designed for minimalists, not for those of us with busy lives and lots of paper and stuff to schlep around. So the arrival of the details of the Wallet 2.0 really got the brain cells working. The US$30 Wallet 2.0 has a soft silicone outer case, so it moulds to the shape of your hip or breast pocket more readily than a leather wallet. It's also water repellant, but the real trickery is inside where it uses specially designed folders like those in an organizer or planner. There are five different refill sheets designed to hold paper money, coins, ID and credit cards and there are more interesting and useful sheets on the way. There’s a flash demo here.  Read More

HearHere enables users to find exactly what they want within a Podcast

October 2, 2006 One of the frustrations associated with audio and video compared to text is that you have to listen to or watch the entire thing. At least that was until Seattle start-up Pluggd debuted a significant new technology for the booming internet audio industry at the semi-annual DEMO conference this week. HearHere, search technology identifies topics within audio and allows users to search within audio Internet programming and quickly find the segments they want. The HearHere feature lets the user type in a keyword representing a topic he or she is looking for and displays a 'heat map' within the media player that visually indicates where in the content the topic is discussed. HearHere's patent-pending technology allows people to find where a conversation of interest starts instead of simply dropping them in the middle of the audiocast, and will identify related topics even if the keyword isn't explicitly used in the content. HearHere will be available along with support for video by the end of the year. With radio and television increasingly turning to the Internet for distribution, the technology also makes it uniquely possible to connect advertisers with new audiences.  Read More

Instant dry cleaning spray

October 1, 2006 Japanese company Nissin Medico has already had a runaway hit product with its spray-on stockings (great photo gallery) becoming massive sellers in Asia and warmer climates in 2003 and is now available in over 2000 American stores. Now the company’s subsidiary C.C. Medico (HK) which specializes in marketing spray products could have another product which creates its own category – a dry cleaning spray hit the Japanese market earlier this month. The product is claimed to dry clean business suits in just 30 seconds. Apparently you put your clothes on a hanger and spray them with the “Spray Iron” product which will “penetrate quickly into the fabric, removing creases, stains and odours immediately.” It sounds too good to be true but so did sliced bread, non-stick frypans and pimple removal cream. The patent application for the Wool mark, from the International Wool Society (IWS), is currently in progress.  Read More

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