Tag Archives: ideas

Repurpose old iPads into elegant single-purpose devices

In 2011, when the second generation iPads are released, my first gen iPad is immediately going on eBay. I want the new shiny one with a camera for video conferencing! I’m not alone.

It is a safe bet to assume that over the next couple years, millions of used iPads will hit secondary markets. Today’s devices will likely be too slow to run iOS5, but they will still have enough compute power for many great uses. How about repurposing these hardware devices with new software that serves a single purpose in an elegant way… such interactive restaurant menus? or upgrade those audio devices that old people rent at museums? or a kick-ass kids toy? or a better remote for a home control system?

Start thinking about how to disrupt a market with a special purposed hardware device. All you will need to write is the software. You will be able to buy “magical and revolutionary” hardware at an “unbelievable price” soon.

Elevator floor cancel button

Can someone make it so that if I press an elevator button for the wrong floor I can press it a second time and it cancels that floor?  You can probably invent an hack to the standard elevator electronics that does this.  Then sell it to every hotel and office building in the world.  Thanks.

Print & mail photos from your phone

For the past 17 months, I’ve been taking photos on my phone of my son (born last June) and emailing them to my family.  They love this and the list of recipients has started to get big, so a few months ago I created a group mailing list.   My son’s great-grandfather, however, is 93 years old and not a very savvy email user.  Emailing him photos isn’t very effective.  So 2 weeks ago I logged into his email account and downloaded the 200+ photos I’ve sent him and got them printed and mailed to him, and he was ecstatic to receive them in the mail as a surprise.
I want to be able to send great-grandpa printed photos in the mail in real time from my phone.  I don’t want to have to take any additional steps beyond sending the photo to my family email list… I just want to add a third-party photo printing service as a recipient to the email list and have the photos automatically printed and mailed to him.

I was going to blog this as a startup idea, and hope that you create this business so that I could be your customer.  However, I recently found a service that does this… Picwing.  After testing it for a couple weeks and working out a few kinks with the email forwarders, it works and I love it.  It batches photos into two shipments per month to save cost.  I’d pay extra for weekly shipments, but they don’t have that option and this is close enough for now.

Superbowl ads for everyone

Remember Million Dollar Homepage?  The website’s owner sold 1,000,000 pixels for $1 each.  It worked because the idea was new and generated a ton of press.  You can’t repeat this now because the concept is no longer newsworthy and nobody is willing to pay $1 per pixel again to a copycat site.

But what if this concept were applied to a superbowl commercial?  According to wikipedia, minimum quality standard 4:3 TV broadcasts are 640 x 480 pixels and can be as low as 24 frames per second, which works out to:

  • 640 x 480 = 307,200 pixels per frame
  • x 24 frames = 7,372,800 pixels per second
  • x 30 sec = 221,184,000 pixels in a 30 second commercial

If you sold every pixel for $0.05, that equals over $11 million.  Last year the average cost for a 30 second superbowl commercial was $3 million… pretty good margin.

Failed startup tshirts

I have 10+ tshirts from failed startups. I love wearing them. Where can I get more? I can’t find a website that sells them. Someone should create this.

When a startup dies, the founders/investors/employees are usually left with a ton of scwhag. At fieldParty.com we were left with thousands of beer can koozies, beach balls, stickers and tshirts. (ya we were stupid but it was fun)

There should be a marketplace for this stuff!

Multi version control hosting

Why doesn’t someone create a source code hosting service like Github, but which allows each developer to chose their own version control system? It would be exactly like Github but if you wanted to use something other than git, you could choose to use svn, mercurial or even cvs. Developers on the same project would not have to use the same version control system; they could use the one they prefer or are most familiar with. I have to imagine that this is technically possible, would end version control flame wars, and would reduce the barrier to entry to getting more collaborators on a project. So why doesn’t it exist? Or does it?