Thanksgiving is over, and winter is rapidly approaching. And ideas, like seasons, come and go.
But over the past few months, we’ve seen some brilliant, new business concepts — ones that have staying power.
Each day, we scour the web for these daily million dollar ideas and have you vote on them.
We’ve compiled a list of fifteen favourites from the fall.
Reader Poll: 66.1% think this is brilliant.
The Idea: The Mind Lamp is a $189 electric lamp with a random-event generator (REG) built in. When plugged in, the lamp gives off a white light before cycling through eight other colours. It then stays on the one that you're thinking about.
How does this mind-matter interaction occur? Scientists aren't sure, but they claim that products that use REG behave 'very differently' when subjected to human consciousness.
The inventors attempt to explain the phenomenon: 'The REG uses a quantum phenomenon called electron tunneling, which is measured as a randomly fluctuating current across a potential barrier in an electric circuit. Surprisingly, and in a way that violates conventional theories in science, the PEAR researchers found statistically significant correlations between the output of the device and human intention in a variety of well-controlled experiments. The mechanism by which this occurs is unknown, and is the subject of ongoing research.'
Whose Idea: Princeton, NJ-based Psyleron, a for-profit company and a non-profit research cooperative, based on the findings of the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) laboratory.
Why we like it: The concept of a mind lamp is fascinating because it draws a direct connection between the mind and physical objects. It's almost like the lamp is a living being - you stare at it and it knows what vibe you're giving off. Maybe this all sounds a little hard to believe (or even scary), but according to John Valentine, CEO and co-founder of Psyleron, 'We are taking something that science says should be totally random, and we have evidence that suggests it's not actually random, that people's thoughts influence it.' The Mind Lamp can be used to represent the human mind and, if anything, certainly helps us understand it.
Reader Poll: 72.5% think this is brilliant.
The Idea: This light and fast car can not only drive over the most rugged terrain; it can penetrate a fire. This vehicle ups the chances of fighting a fire by allowing firefighters to remain in an insulated cabin that can survive temperatures over 600 degrees. From there, they can operate a high-powered water canon that can put out fires from the middle of the blaze.
Whose idea: Designer Liam Ferguson
Why we like it: Normally, you'd want to get a potentially explosive car as far from a fire as possible. But as long as the burning floorboards can support this light vehicle, this new contraption could help save a lot of lives, and there's no worry of it igniting. Firemen and victims of fires could be in a lot safer hands with an invention like this.
Reader Poll: 76% think this is brilliant.
The Idea: Qwiki is an information experience and reference tool that you can actually watch and interact with, rather than just read. It's like Wikipedia, but instead of text, it brings you quick, minute-long videos, as well as an array of graphics and narration.
Qwiki's enormous platform can be produced from any content and on any device. The technology works by evaluating then compiling different kinds of information, including rich text, structured data, and mixed media. Unlike other information resources, Qwiki is generated by machines, which perhaps explains its futuristic look and feel.
Qwiki transmits information via storytelling, in a way that is almost human. Although a lot of the information comes from Wikipedia, Qwiki is also building its own media index, and the reference library, which started with 3 million topics, should reach tens of millions in the next couple years.
Qwiki is still invite only, so companies must request Qwiki pages and content. Within the next few weeks, individuals will also be able to attain personal Qwikis, adding social media network to the information resource's list of functions. Mergers with Facebook and LinkedIn data lie in Qwiki's future. And another great feature? The truly personal alarm clock, brought to you by what seems almost like a real person, albeit the voice is a little robot-like.
To read the full Q&A with Qwiki's founder, click here.
Whose idea: Qwiki co-founders Doug Imbruce and Louis Monier
Why we like it: Qwiki revolutionizes information gathering, transmission, and consumption. The graphics, sounds, and videos are much more technologically advanced than what you've ever encountered. Watching the demonstration does in fact feel like you're part of the future. But all of this doesn't come easily: the technology is quite difficult to create and update. We look forward to seeing how Qwiki continues to build and power its platform.
Watch a demo of Qwiki and an interview with the founder, here.
Reader Poll: 76.3% think this is brilliant.
This idea is a year old but it's cool so we're writing about it.
The Idea: The Pulse Smartpen is a nifty tool that transforms your handwritten notes and audio recordings into interactive Flash videos, called pencasts, that can be embedded into any website.
Here's how it works: The pen has a microphone and built-in speaker to record audio. It also has a camera that captures everything you write and draw. Once all of the audio/written notes have been recorded by the $150 1GB wonder pen, you can hook the device up to your computer via USB and transfer the files. Then, just copy and paste the HTML into a website or blog.
You can also share pencasts directly on Facebook, save your notes as PDF files, or export your recordings into an audio file.
Whose idea: Livescribe
Why we like it: Something as simple and mundane as handwritten notes can metamorphose into something as flashy as, well, Flash videos. Furthermore, the fact that they can be uploaded on the Internet with just a few clicks makes these Pulse Smartpens powerful little tools. Taking notes is a pain, and so is transcribing calls. This pen solves both of those annoyances.
Reader Poll: 77.7% think this is brilliant.
The Idea: A peanut butter jar with a lid on each side for easy to access the last few spoonfulls of the delectable treat.
Whose Idea: Sherwood Forlee, among others
Why we like it: Few snacks have as devoted a following as does the gooey, sweet-yet-salty butter of the peanut. From pre-schoolers to seniors, and Combos to Reeses, no one can get enough of it.
So it must be demoralizing when, heading spoon-first into another indulgence, you reach for the nearest jar in your home and find only a small layer of peanut butter at the bottom. It hits your right then: It will take minutes to get your spoon at just the right angle to gather the remaining delicacy, not to mention the fact that your hand will probably emerge a hot, sticky mess thanks to all the digging around.
Instead, imagine simply turning that same jar upside down, twisting off a second lid, and getting to the last remaining peanut butter---at the top of the jar. Simply spoon, and enjoy. You never see it in stores, but If it makes eating America's favourite snack easier, it has to be worthwhile....right?
9. An app for touchscreens that predicts which letters are least likely to be typed next and shrinks them
Reader Poll: 77.9% think this is brilliant.
The Idea: ThickButtons is a free download for touchscreen Android phones. As the user types a letter on the virtual keyboard, ThickButtons predicts which letters are least likely to follow and shrinks them. Meanwhile, the keys more likely to be used grow larger.
Whose idea: Dmitri Lisitski
Why we like it: For the fat-fingered, touch phones can be aggravating. While autocorrect can be really annoying, with an invention like thickbuttons, typos could become a thing of the past.
8. Flip Flops With Interchangeable, Velcro Straps So You Can Switch Your Look Without Buying Multiple Pairs
Reader Poll: 77.9% think this is brilliant.
The Idea: SwitchFlops are sandals with interchangeable, Velcro straps. Customers are able to buy one sandal and multiple strap designs so their shoes can match every outfit.
There are several base styles to choose from, including flat, wedge, and kitten heel. The base sandal costs $35 and additional straps are $12.
Whose idea: 25-year-old Lindsay Phillips came up with the idea for SwitchFlops at 16, as part of a high school art project. Officially launched in 2007, her company - Lindsay Phillips - now employs 35 full-time staffers and is projected to bring in $30 million in revenue this year.
Why we like it: Switchflops was right on target with current consumer need and spending. In these tougher economic times, these sandals will allow consumers to save money without sacrificing their inner fashionista. No need to buy pair after pair - the versatility of Switchflops gives the consumer a wide array of styles to choose from and coordinate their outfit with.
Furthermore, Switchflops are of the first truly successful amalgamations of fashion and interactive experience. More and more businesses are offering design-your-own-experience products. While technology has made this possible for gadget-type of consumer products, fashion products have been largely left out of the stampede. Switchflops puts the fashion back in the new wave of interactive products.
Reader Poll: 78.8% think this is brilliant.
The Idea: A dating website that sets you, and your friends, up for group dates. Search for groups of people with similar interests, identify them as a people you'd like to meet, and then start arranging a mass hang-out.
Whose Idea: Ignighter, the first and only group dating website.
Why we like it: It reminds of us high school, but in a good way. Doing things with friends is always more fun, and more safe.
Remember the Craigslist killer from last summer? Seriously scary stuff, especially for women. We think Ignighter is a good idea for socializing, safety, and possibly even romance. Apparently India thinks so too, since Ignighter is one of the top 100 websites there.
If you don't hit it off with one person on the date, you can always check out their friends instead. The website also gives coupons for dating pocket money, and they're working on Groupon-like discounts.
Reader Poll: 81.7% think this is brilliant.
The Idea: The washing machine looks normal: you load clothes, let the machine do the work, and then take them out to dry. However, instead of using water, tiny nylon beads suck up stains. It takes loads up to 44 pounds per cycle (that is a lot of laundry...) and gets rid of stains from mud to red wine to ballpoint pens. See a video demonstration here.
Xeros explains how the beads work:
'The nylon polymer has an inherent polarity that attracts stains. Think of how your white nylon garments can get dingy over time as dirt builds up on the surface despite constant washing. However, under humid conditions, the polymer changes and becomes absorbent. Dirt is not just attracted to the surface, it is absorbed into the centre. This is exactly what happens when Xeros nylon beads are gently tumbled with dampened garments.'
Whose Idea: Xeros Ltd.
Why we like it: This isn't anything earth-shattering, but Xeros claims to save money, the environment, and stained clothes. It almost sounds too good to be true.
Their machine uses 90% less water than your current contraption. Chief executive of Xeros, Bill Westwater, says: 'The net saving in water, detergent and electricity and including the cost of the beads, we calculate, is about a 30% cost saving for the user.
Reader Poll: 87.1% think it's brilliant
The Idea: The Green Box is an eco-friendly cardboard pizza box. The top of the box easily breaks down into serving plates, while the bottom of the box easily converts into a storage container for leftovers. Not only is the design simple to assemble and collapse, the side flaps of the container overlap while the top snaps into place, preserving the pizza and maintaining freshness.
Whose idea: Environmentally Conscious organisation, Inc., a design, licensing, manufacturing management and logistics firm dedicated to improving food packaging.
Why we like it: Since pizza boxes are so cumbersome, it's hard to store leftovers inside them. Yet they take up too much trash can space when you throw them away. The Green Box offers a solution to both these problems, and one that also happens to be completely environmentally friendly. The storage container takes up half the refrigerator shelf space as a normal pizza box. A huge step for mankind? Maybe not. But a huge step for pizza parties, most definitely.
Reader Poll: 87.6% think this is brilliant.
The Idea: Kinect is an add-on for the Xbox 360, with one cable that you plug into the Xbox. Kinect has three lenses - an RGB video camera, an infrared projector, and a distance and depth sensor - enabling users to control the Xbox without a game controller.
It works by calculating and detecting the position and movement of 48 principle joints in your anatomy, including those of your head, hands, torso, and knees. Kinect has 3D vision, overlaying input from the camera with input from the depth sensor.
What's more, Kinect has four built-in microphones that monitor the room for your voice, allowing you to control your Xbox 360 using only voice commands. And the price? If you already have an Xbox, you can buy the Kinect for $150; if you don't, you can buy it with a 4G Xbox for $300.
Whose idea: Microsoft
Why we like it: Kinect goes beyond motion games that rely on swinging one hand - it creates a gaming experience for whole-body simulations, including obstacle courses, dancing, and flying. Instead of using your hands, you use your whole body as the controller. And without a single external controller, the game attracts all ages and even those who aren't really the gaming type.
GameSpot reported that two dark-skinned employees had trouble with Kinect's facial recognition feature, yet a Consumer Reports test, as well as a Microsoft report, debunked this issue, attributing the problem to low room lighting. Lighting conditions, however, shouldn't affect the actual playing of the game, only the facial recognition feature at log-in.
Source: New York Times
Reader Poll: 91.5% think this is brilliant.
The Idea: The nPower PEG is a lightweight device that uses the energy you make while walking, running, dancing, biking, and hey, even laughing, to charge your most valuable devices.
Whose Idea: Tremont Electric, LLC
Why we like it: For the green-minded, this device is a major breakthrough. You place your nPower PEG - it's so small, you won't even know it's there - in your backpack, pocket, purse, and then do what you normally do - move!
As you generate kinetic energy, the PEG will soak it up, charging your appliances. And there is even a backup plan: If you are not moving and need some juice in your cell phone or iPod batteries quickly, all you have to do is shake it. Clever.
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