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Brainstorming Ideas - Two Tests

I write quite a bit about creativity and how to have new ideas. I even have a couple books on the topic that I either give away or sell on Amazon's Kindle platform. But mostly I just like to think up new inventions and unique concepts and radical new ways to do things as a fun mental exercise. That was the only goal when I did the following two tests the other day. I was at work; my writing revenues are down and I am working part time as a security guard at a nice community where I am outside all day. It was 90 degrees and humid and I was sleepy, so I am guessing that I would have generated more (and better) ideas had I been in a different situation. But in any case it was a slow day, and we are allowed to read or write, so I did these tests.

The first test was simple. I would write down as many ideas for products, inventions or businesses as possible in 20 minutes. Hopefully one or two would be good. Then I waited a bit to start the second test, to break the "flow" and make it more accurate. You see, the second test would have the same goal, but for that one I had five prompts to help stimulate my creativity. I wanted to see if these resulted in more ideas. The results are just below. Yes, some of these are lame inventions -- I did not edit the results. I also suspect that a few of the things I imagined already exist, but if it is new to me it is written down...

1st Brainstorming Test

Sleepy day at work: 7/19/13, 2:55 - 3:15 (20 minutes).

Goal: Have as many ideas as possible.

The Ideas

The original notes are followed by short explanations to clarify the ideas.

Clothing designed to hide money and valuables - This is a product for travelers and other who want to survive actual or potential robberies without losing everything. Secret entrances into seams (where jewels might be hidden) and into linings (where cash could be kept) is what crossed my mind.

Hat with a built-in fan - This is exactly what it sounds like; a fan that blows on your head built into the top of your hat.

"Add a Room" prebuilt rooms that are easily added to a house - The idea is that you can add a room to most houses within a day or two, and the new room will comply with whatever building codes are in effect.

Mobile movie theater in a semi-truck trailer - This business would bring movies to towns without a theater or just provide a new kind of movie-going experience.

Fake flowers that bloom repeatedly - Nothing happens with fake flowers, and that's the problem this product solves. Somehow the flowers develop and open over time so the consumer gets the same excitement of watching them blossom. It would also be nice to have new and different colors of blooms after the first set.

Nu-Skin bandages that are neater than just liquid - If you have used those liquid bandage substitutes you know they are messy and difficult to apply evenly. They do seal a wound much better than a plastic or cloth bandage, though, so this new invention provides the best of both. It might be a skin-sealing gel-like glue that is on a strip of cloth or something similar to make it easy to apply neatly.

Inflatable walls and partitions - For offices or homes, these walls would be inexpensive and can be stored deflated. They could inflate like an accordion to fill the space until they are snug against the ceiling or walls. Divide a room in two quickly!

Bicycle and tube in a backpack for all terrain adventure travel - This "adventure kit" starts with a backpack for carrying everything. That "everything" includes not only whatever the user adds, but also a collapsible bicycle, a small inflatable watercraft, and an air pump to use with both. The idea is that you can go anywhere on foot, bike, or by water.

Neutral buoyancy personal blimp - If you were tied to a blimp that almost lifted you off the ground, you could run with a feeling of weightlessness, jumping tress and buildings perhaps, and floating slowly back to the ground.

City videos - This idea for a channel on YouTube for getting to know cities has probably already been tried, but I haven't seen it yet. There are photos of every city online, but to really get to know if you want to visit or move there a video tour would be nice.

2nd Brainstorming Test

I waited a half hour after the first to get back to a normal state: 7/19/13, 3:50 - 4:10 (20 minutes).

Goal: Have as many ideas as possible, but with the following five prompts prepared beforehand and consulted throughout the process:

1. Combine things
2. New uses for things
3. Change things
4. Bizarre assumptions
5. Find new ways to serve same purpose

Second Batch of Ideas

Once again the original notes are followed by short explanations to clarify the ideas.

Hyperthermia suit that blows cool air - If there is an efficient and light device for creating cool air it could be attached to a suit that you put on an overheated person.

Fake trees that provide shade and a cooling mist - Trees die or lose their leaves, but a fake tree can shade you year-round, and might be engineered to provide a cooling mist (misters are already used in Arizona and other hot and dry places).

Buy scrap wood (or get free) and chop up and sell as firewood or fuel - I see pallets and other wooden items being thrown away all the time, so I wonder if there is an efficient way to collect these cheap or free and process them into fuel for wood-burning furnaces or fireplaces.

Solar cell leaves on "Solar Tree" - The thought here is to create an attractive way to generate power and replaceable components. Each leaf is a solar cell that can be replaced if damaged or worn out. Meanwhile the whole structure appears as a good-looking tree while providing electricity.

Helium bridge between high buildings or over canyons - Is it possible that a foot bridge might require fewer materials and cost less if it is supported by helium balloons or tubes?

One piece foam furniture carved out and coated in plastic - If a piece of foam of some sort can be cut and coated in plastic to create light and easy-to-clean furniture, buyers could have these things custom made to exact specifications.

Table that folds into floor to open up space - The floor is usable as a floor until you lift the table out of it and it stands up on its fold-away legs.

Table that hangs from ceiling and is retractable - This table has to look good from the bottom since it will hang from the ceiling. It also has to have a simple device for lowering it to the level necessary for dinner (presumably with chains or wires at the four corners).

Car that sails on train tracks - Wheels the right distance apart and a cloth sail are what's needed for this invention. Tracks that can be legally used might be the problem here; otherwise the vehicle has to be easy to remove prior to a possible impact.

Painting made of currency with wash-off paint to hide money - The bills are lightly glued to a canvas and then painted over so nobody will guess that they are there. The glue and paint have to be some types that can be easily washed off later when the owner is ready to spend the cash.

Doggy style shoes for dogs - They already use "footies" on Alaskan sled dogs to prevent foot damage when racing long distances over icy terrain. The idea here is to do it for other dogs, and make them prettier.

Farm market where you invest in the annual output of a farm - This one has probably been tried, but the basic concept is new to me. Like in the usual stock markets, shareholders get a dividend based on the output of the farm they invest in. This provides an alternative to borrowing money for farmers, and a potential profit for investors.

Rent a portable office - These would be portable offices that are dropped off at homes and wherever. They come ready to be plugged in to the electrical supply of the house or building or with their own generators, and they have the office essentials (desks, equipment and such).

Buy leftover cement to make paving stones - I have watched cement companies dump leftover cement when they had too much for a project, and I understand they sometimes sell off this excess. If you agree to take whatever they have when they have it this would simplify things for them, and if you have them just pour it into your cement paving stone molds (and get it cheap), you might have an inexpensive way to make these things.

Remote control blimp cameras - This is yet another idea that has probably been tried, the concept here is simple; attach a camera to a tiny blimp that can be flown by remote control and sell it to all the snoopy people out there.

Cat trees - The concept is to cut trees (or segments of them) that are chosen for their cat-friendly shapes and attach them to bases to sell as cat perches. I might buy one for our cats. They get bored with the OSB-and-carpet "cat condos" that are sold in stores.

The Brainstorming Test Results

As you can see from the results above, I had more ideas the second time around, when I was using the five prompts. This experiment was not well-controlled, but I suspect that we would see a similar result in a more precise laboratory setting. If I am right it shows the value of learning a few techniques for having creative ideas, at least in terms of generating more quantity.


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