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Good Thinking

South Korea takes top rank in global E-Government Survey

September 4, 2006 The findings of Brown University's sixth annual survey of on-line government have been released and South Korea has leapt to the top of 198 country table, displacing traditional frontrunners Taiwan, Singapore and the United States with a significantly better score. Australia, Hong Kong and China all dropped out of the top ten, with Korea, Japan and Spain the biggest climbers. The researchers evaluated government websites based on two dozen criteria, including disability access, the existence of publications and databases, the presence of privacy policies, security policies, contact information, and the number of online services.  Read More

ReadEzy takes the pain out of reading

August 28, 2006 More proof that successful new products don’t need software, a VC fund and a big business behind them. The ReadEzy, invented by Macquarie University (Australia) philosophy student David Wild is a bookholder that holds the book from behind, while the pages are loosely gripped at the front so they can be turned or flicked with one hand. The end result is a device that allows people to read without holding the book, or read multitask - take notes, eat, drink, knit or enjoy a bath without getting the pages wet. Wild produced 5,000 “ReadEzy” bookholding devices as a trial, and they were snapped up so quickly (primarily by students and the mobility impaired) that when he sold out within a month he’s now ramping up for mass distribution and seeking international distributors for the ReadEzy which retails for AUD$30 (USD$22.70 or EUR17.80) .  Read More

The Medici Business Game - designed to unleash remarkable ideas

August 18, 2006 There is no better group of people to come up with new ideas and concepts for your company than your own people – they know the constraints, the opportunities, the customers and they understand the game but it’s often hard to get everyone into the space where the ideas flow. The Medici Game is a new business game that takes participants on a three-hour journey into "the intersection”, described by the game's co-creator Frans Johansson, as “a creative place where thinking from different cultures and fields collide to create an explosion of remarkable ideas." Based on the concepts explored in the best-selling book, The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts & Cultures (HBS Press, 2004) the game taps employee creativity and helps companies create the conditions for innovation, leading to new products and services, systems and procedures, and even new markets. The cost of the game is US$70 per person, which just might prove to be money well spent. During the game, participants are challenged to reverse their own assumptions, make unusual connections and reevaluate their daily habits. As a result, the experience helps break down the associative barriers and linear thinking that block creativity and innovation.  Read More

Virtual Ancient Egypt curriculum introduced into the classroom

August 17, 2006 Business simulation programs teach skills and offer experiences and understanding that traditional education cannot. In the short history of the genre, it has become patently obvious that the experiential learning on offer via simulation programs brings the textbook to life and that students get very involved to get to higher levels in the simulation. Knowledge Matters has been selling educational business simulation programs for eight years and has had enormous success with programs such as VB Management (VBM), a simulated distribution business where players locate and build a business, hire and supervise employees, deal with unions and strikes and collective bargaining, industrial accidents and lawsuits, performance warnings and pay raises and all the other day-to-day business realities. The latest upgrade adds a multiplayer capacity to the original version allowing teams to steal each other’s customers and employees while motivating cooperative thinking and team strategy … just like in real life. Now the company is taking its experience in educational simulation software and applying it to middle school history … starting with Ancient Egypt, where students will learn about all aspects of ancient Egypt including government, basic human needs, daily work activities, agriculture, trade, religion and they'll even get the task of building a pyramid, allocating resources into the bargain. And expect to see another module surrounding the settling of America some time in 2007 where students will be immersed through simulation, in the daily life and history of the early American settlements.  Read More

New machine provides power, water and refrigeration

August 6, 2006 When disasters happen, be they natural (hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes etc) or man-made (war), three essentials top the list of must-haves: water, electricity and refrigeration. Now two University of Florida engineers have created a single unit that can provide all three. With further development, it is expected that the unit will be made compact enough to fit onto a large truck. The system marries a gas turbine power plant to a heat-operated refrigeration system. The refrigeration makes the gas turbine more efficient, while also producing cool air and potable water. The turbine can run on conventional fossil fuels, biomass-produced fuels or hydrogen.  Read More

The NEVERFLAT Basketball

August 4, 2006 Founded by Boston Red Stockings pitcher A.G. Spalding in 1876, the globally recognised Spalding brand name continues to grow in stature thanks to constant innovation. One that slipped our attention recently was the introduction of the NEVERFLAT basketball. Though Spalding created the first official basketball in 1894 and basketballs evolved from soccer balls which have been in existence for nearly a century prior, we’ve never had an inflatable sports ball that retains its pressure for one whole year before. The Spalding NEVERFLAT Basketball introduces several new pressure retention technologies and is guaranteed to stay fully inflated for a least one year … 10 times longer than traditional basketballs! The NEVERFLAT ensures you have consistent rebound height for at least one year and given the amount of time we spend maintaining sports balls, that’s a whole lot more fun time for everyone and a killer product differentiator. Now what we need to do, given the importance of tyre pressures in the global automotive fleet, is find a similar solution for car tyres.  Read More

The Hover Creeper floats on thin air

July 31, 2006 It’s not often you can pinpoint the innovation point where a new product concept was formed, but for the Hover Creeper, it was at the point where 73-year-old former Westinghouse Electric engineer Ralph Kalkbrenner said, “Mechanics already have compressed air in their garage for tools, why not take advantage of it” that a better mechanics creeper was conceived – one that quite literally floats on thin air. Kalkbrenner works for Davison Design and Development, and was involved in a project to revitalize the Whiteside product-line and to reinvent the creeper. Rubber air bladders inside the 14-pound Hover Creeper plus 40 psi enable it to effortlessy glide over the hectic landscape of the garage floor, floating over cracks, bolts, washers and other debris that would have stopped a wheeled creeper in its tracks, all with a 300 pound payload on board. Just plug it in and glide under the car. Once underneath, the mechanic hits a lever, letting the creeper land and offering stable leverage to enable the mechanic to apply torque to spanners, something not possible with castor wheels. The mechanic can still use the compressed air; he just plugs the tools into one of the two air outlets on either side of the creeper. And there’s a tool caddy built into the creeper body. We think the Hover Creeper is destined to become a part of every garage. It’s waay cool, high-tech in a no-nonsense sort of way, very practical, looks like fun to use and it's cheaper to own as there are no replacement costs for damaged casters. Since it doesn't have wheels, it's less expensive to make with less waste and replacement.  Read More

Interactive outdoor advertising employs mobile phone

July 10, 2006 With more than 2.5 billion mobile phones in use and saturation reached in most industrialised countries, there are myriad opportunities opening up for additional usage of existing mobile phone functionality, including the ability for advertising sites such as bus shelters, and poster panels interact directly with customers in their vicinity. One such technology platform is the UK-based Hypertag which works by allowing infra-red or Bluetooth mobile phones and PDAs (such as Palm Pilots or Pocket Pcs) to interact with a small electronic tag embedded in the billboard. When the consumer holds their mobile phone up to the Hypertag, they can download assets related to the promotional opportunity such as ringtones, audio and video clips, wallpapers, Java games, vouchers, tickets, instant win prizes, games, animations and … the possibilities are endless. One area that holds enormous promise is that of events and attractions, where for example, a museum could use the technology to offer additional text, audio or video information about each exhibit. Our favourite application so far was hatched in Australia when United International Pictures (UIP) and media agency Mediaedge:cia, partnered with AURA Interactive, The Global Game, and Adshel to launch an original new interactive game inspired by the highly anticipated film, Mission Impossible III. All players who registered on a dedicated website were required to race about their capital city, searching around various city locations for hidden answers to a series of Mission: Impossible themed clues. The clues were delivered using a combination of SMS messaging and Hypertag technology embedded into Adshel bus shelters and street signage, positioned at various sites across each capital city. Consumers accessing the Hypertags could download ringtones, wallpapers or a business card providing a phone number to SMS for the clue.  Read More

The Cocoon reinterprets the coffin

July 5, 2006 Given that people pride themselves on being so individualistic in life, it’s interesting to note that the coffin remains substantially the same rectilinear shape for most people. So we thought the Cocoon deserved a mention as it’s a reinterpretation of the traditional coffin and steps into new territory in terms of its symbolism. The Cocoon shape is borrowed from nature to symbolise a feeling of security and the passage to something new. Nature’s theme of the “perfect shelter” is furthered by the use of renewable fast-growing primary resources (untreated jute and a natural resin) that bio-degrade within 10-15 years. At UE3000 plus shipping, the Cocoon can be delivered anywhere in Germany within 2-3 days and anywhere in Europe within a week. Clearly, there's an opportunity for international distributors of the product.  Read More

The noble sport of scambaiting

July 4, 2006 If you are growing tired of your in-tray being crammed with email scams from third world nations, spare a thought for all those people who didn’t realise they were scams. ScamPatrol reports 15-20 victims a week, with an average victim paying out US$20,000 and some estimates put the global haul from 419 (advance fee fraud) scams at US$1.5 billion. While most of those scammed are the victims of their own greed, it’s interesting to see the rise of internet vigilantism and the evolution of the cyberspace equivalent of big game hunting - scambaiting. Scambaiting is the sport of scamming the would-be scammer and although the concept of vigilantism is a bit scarey, it’s hard to see scambaiting as anything but a noble pastime where a win does the world a good deed. The world’s best Scambaiting exponents display their trophies and teach other would-be-Robin-Hoods how to go about it at sites such as 419Eater, Scambaits, Scamorama and ScamBuster419. Should Scambaiting ever become an Olympic sport, Shiver Metimbers, the administrator of 419Eater, would be a Gold Medal contender. For some of his finest work, including how he got a scammer to carve him a Commodore 64 computer (pictured), read on.  Read More

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