Multiview Email

Idea: When composing an email to a group of people, often you wish to share different amount/type of information while keeping the central theme/content the same. Ideally, you would like to have a common email sent to everybody and let everybody know about the recipient list, but you might want to add/explain some of the stuff to a subset of people, or read-aloud read-between-the-lines to some of them. What I would like is an email with multiple views. For example, if I am throwing a party, I would like to send an invitation including place and time to everybody, and then attach a personal note for some of the invitees.

Reward: No need to use mail-merge and send out emails individually. Use the bulk mail, that you are used to (especially in usergroups), and customize them at your will.

Bonus: It would be like your email having multiple personalities.

LetMeSpeed: Speed legally, Avoid accidents

Idea: Road accidents is the number 1 cause of deaths in the United States. Many of them happen due to speeding. Sure, all the cars are designed to go beyond prescribed speed limits, but that shouldn't mean that we have right to exercise that. Frankly, I can think of very few reasons which can justify speeding, emergency medical situation being one of them. What if we could build a table of such emergencies and assign each one a code, and then expect the driver of the vehicle to enter one of these codes to get authorized for speeding for long distance. Sure, you can speed to avoid minor accidents, but that shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes. All cars could be programmed to either ask for speeding authorizations once driven beyond speed limit for a threshold time (say 10 minutes), or not respect accelerator. Now each of the authorized speeding vehicles should be traceable and can be asked to provide proof for the speed request.

Reward: No more speeding related accidents, and if you have to speed for the right reason have a legal way to do it.

Bonus: Catching thieves on the road was never easier. You can deny all speed authorization request for that particular car, and you're all set. Also, if you're able to regulate speed of vehicles remotely, you can do a perfect job at traffic obedience.

BrowseLib: A true online library

Idea: All libraries have online portals where you could search for an item you're looking for and it tells you where it has shelved it. In a lot of ways, it's just like an online store. While this facility is good, it doesn't quite offer some of the same advantages that a manual casual browse in the library provides. What I would like from an online library interface is to be able to browse books shelf-by-shelf, to be able to scan covers and first couple of pages, and move on to the next book. I would also like to be able to browse books from similar categories, just like how they're shelved in the library and better since in an online version choices of shelving are endless (and customizable). I would also like to participate in book review sessions and broadcast a story-telling session sitting in my chair at home.

Reward: A true library experience from convenience of your home.

Bonus: I should also be able to virtually pick up a book, go to a table with people from similar reading interests and spark a literary conversation. How about that for a virtual library date?

Industry Recognition: NextChat

Google must start paying me now! First, they implemented google health, which is based on an idea I published in early Feb (Refer to: WebDoctor). Today, Google announced lively, a next generation chat room which draws some of the very same concepts I discussed in my earlier post on this forum. (Refer to: NextChat). While, I am not getting any royalty (or even an honorary mention), I am glad to see my vision becoming alive. I guess the next logical step for lively would be to be able to share user created rooms and create a virtual social world. I am thinking, I should consider a career switch. How about Google Adviser? ;-) Last but not the least, kudos to entire ideakrafters team, and of course to Google!

GPS-STI: GPS with static traffic info

Idea: Garmin, and most other companies selling GPS devices offer traffic receivers. They come in pretty handy because they avoid traffic tie-ups by adding a traffic receiver and traffic services to your compatible GPS device. Your GPS navigator uses traffic information to minimize traffic delays on your route. The only catch here is you got to pay big bucks for this dynamic content. I claim that the amount of traffic content you really need to base your decision upon is not really dynamic. Not only that, but in case of a really dynamic event, even traffic receivers might not do the best job. So, how about storing last year's average (hour-by-hour, every 15 minutes) traffic information along with the maps on your GPS device. Using this static information, your GPS can make intelligent choices for you, and guess what you don't have to worry about your traffic receiver malfunctioning or paying for the dynamic content which you really don't need.

Reward: Since the information is static, software can do significantly better job (TSP?) at finding you the best route for the hour.

Bonus: You could also study last 5 (or 10) years traffic data and make traffic predictions. Also, based on this static information, you can avoid paths with higher statistics on accidents in certain season.

Scenic Drive, Everywhere

Idea: I happen to be on California Highway 1, which is considered one of the best scenic drives in the country. The drive begins in Monterey, the capital of Alta California under Spanish and Mexican rule and the home of some of the oldest buildings in the state. You drive south on Highway 1 toward Morro Bay through the California wilds, flanked by parks, reserves, and a sea otter refuge that extends from Carmel to Cambria. In addition to seeing California's wild beauty, Highway 1 drivers experience the wild adventure of two-lane, cliffside driving through Big Sur country, where jagged mountains plunge down into pounding surf. I started thinking, why do people have to come all the way to California to enjoy the scenic drive. What if the car windshield and the windows can simulate the exact ambiance! All the driver needs to see is the vehicle (moving objects) around his/her vehicle and road-signs. All these could be covered in a beautiful backdrop with some AI and computer graphics (detect moving objects, road-signs, pedestrians, etc. and re-image the rest with your favorite scene).

Reward: Well, your drive to work can be a scenic one. And guess what, you can adjust a few knobs and you could be on a completely different scenic drive to work.

Bonus: Extend this to racing tracks and you should be able to install CGI from NFS into your car and play a real race with real speed-racers in any terrain you wish.

Industry Recognition: WebDoctor

While flykut was my idea of an april fool hoax, another idea of mine indeed got some industry recognition. I published an idea on Feb 1st about having personal medical reports online which can be analyzed by some tool or could be shared among medical facilities. (Refer to: WebDoctor). Well, I'm happy to announce that Google has come out with Google Health, taking the first steps in this direction. Kudos to entire ideakrafters team, and of course to Google!

Traveling Taxicab

Idea: As a software engineer, I often keep wondering about classic computer science problems and their applications. Take for example, the traveling salesman problem. Now let's try to apply it to current taxicab system in the US. Currently, you have to call the cab service where an operator receives your call and after going through his/her online records, contacts a driver nearest to you. This method is not perfect. Not only it's error-prone, the human operator doesn't always make the optimal choices. So let's apply the TSP here. Most cabs (cars) have in-built GPS nowadays. If the cellphone of a client is able to transmit his/her current location, the nearest cab could pick up his/her signal and accommodate him/her on the way given it doesn't violate the time constraints of the other passengers in the cab.

Reward: A complete automated and most optimal cab system.

Bonus: Different cab companies could share/transfer GPS and their data points in order to carpool as much as possible to save on gas. A cellphone application can be developed to have your individual preferences stored and call an appropriate cab once requested.

mobiConf: Video conference on the go

Idea: Videoconferencing allows businesses to keep in touch with employees and clients from across the country and around the world in real time with both audio and video. They are connecting classrooms for distance education in ways never before envisioned. They are allowing online matchmaking web sites to allow real and powerful contact between potential matches. One current limitation of all the videoconferencing technologies is that they require participant to be located at certain "conference rooms". An interesting observation is that most of the cellphones nowadays have both internet and video recording facilities. How about utilizing those features so that you could participate in a video-conference from virtually anywhere.

Reward: Talk to your loved ones while seeing them live, participate in your company meeting while you're at home, possibilities are endless.

Bonus: Considering cellphone screens are usually small, you should be able to connect your cellphone to your TV/LCD display and have a full size view of the conference while your cell phone's camera streams out your live images.

nextTread: A futuristic treadmill

Idea: Working out has become an irreplaceable activity from modern lifestyle. Remaining fit is the "in-thing" now. Many people love to workout. Many find it boring because fitness is an ongoing challenge. The primary reason I find workout boring is treadmills. They are supposed to emulate running. While the emulation does an excellent job at providing your a softer surface to run (and hence easier on knees), it fails miserably at providing you the same level of enjoyment you get running outdoors. A couple of approaches have been tried to alleviate this problem by putting big screen LCD TVs. I find it too hard to concentrate and very distracting. When I am running I would like it to be very similar to running outdoors in that I would like to look at changing sceneries while I "run forward". We could combine the technologies we already have (Shred 4D ride @ the Universal studios) with treadmill and provide the runner a perfect running ambiance.

Reward: A really enjoyable running experience on treadmill, finally!

Bonus: Maybe a runner could just be given goggles that show him terrain he is running on. The runner could also see fellow runners (running on similar treadmill anywhere in the world at that time) and exchange fitness tips. They could even take part in competition or a charity run while running on the treadmill.

Synergistic M&A

Idea: In 2007, From January to July, Google acquired more then 13 companies! It probably has a few more in pipeline. It's highly likely that Google's buying spree will never really stop. Close to 20 companies in 2007 is not a small number. Here is the list of all Google's acquisitions. Other companies like Cisco and EMC are known to do this and known to do this well, in most cases. In other cases however, companies have tremendous difficulties in porting technology (and of course people) from the acquired company and assimilate in their own. Some of the sad side effects being discarded technology and mass-layoffs. The problem being those companies were full blown companies when they were purchased, and in their growth most of them had no regards whatsoever about their current parent company or their current siblings. Had they known...? So here's an idea: how about giants like Google, Cisco, EMC,... taking active interest in startups and funding them from their beginning to shape them more amenable to acquisitions by them.

Reward: M&A can now be considered a match made in heaven! No more technology deaths and say goodbye to mass layoffs.

Bonus: The companies considering acquisitions could also participate in collaborative efforts to create solutions that might help setup a strong ecosystem. If there is significant market for co-solutions already, synergistic M&A could just be the next logical step.

Furniture Knapsack

Idea: I ran into this problem myself recently. I was moving to a new and much bigger apartment and I needed some furniture to populate my new place. I thought this can't be difficult! I set my budget and then started looking for furniture online, both new and used ones. What started being an easy problem, soon became nightmarish. Basically, I wanted to buy couch set, dining set and a bedroom set, and I had to search for them separately and every single time the total would go over my budget, plus I couldn't figure out what's the best combo deal I could get within my budget. So here is an idea: how about a furniture search engine which takes in your budget and items you're interested in buying and issues multiple queries to various furniture stores (and craigslist) and present you with a number of combinations which satisfy your furniture needs while staying within your limit. You could also provide a slack and engine would try to find you more options.

Reward: Peace of mind. Furniture hunting was never easier.

Bonus: The engine could be enhanced to take a delivery address and time as an input and provide you the end-to-end cost, and if you happen to select one of these options the furniture could be delivered to you at the time you wish for the price you're willing to pay.

flykut: shaping BA's million dollar social venture

Idea: Two months ago, I had published an idea about . British Airways announced that they will be investing heavily to make their air travel socially buzzing. They also outlined a number of incremental steps they will be taking in that direction. Willie Walsh, the new CEO of BA, has posed a million dollar challenge to design first version of social flight codenamed flykut. Well, if I were Mark Zuckerberg, I would just integrate basic facebook application in flights' personal screens along with a few applications and profiles of the passenger on board. I would also provide a touch screen keypad (like in iPhone) so that passengers can communicate (or play games, participate in quizzes). In addition, I would convert all headphones into headsets with microphones. Voice chats among fellow passengers would open up a myriad of possibilities.

Reward: Meet new people, learn new things, share new experiences.

Bonus: Since many flights now offer internet, the socializing experience need not be limited to in-flight passengers only. You could in fact socialize with people on the ground, or people on other flights!

Second Opinion Medical Experts

Idea: A while ago I published an idea about on this forum. While it generated some interest, seemed far fetched to most people who communicated to me. So here's an idea which is only incremental and uses the existing infrastructure of medical system. Many times I've gone to my dentist and come back confused. Did my dentist examine me properly? When she said everything was okay, was I really fine? When she said I needed some procedures urgently, could I really not wait? Sometimes I didn't agree with my dentist's priority about the work needed in my mouth. What if the medical (or dental) examination reports could be published online in a standard format, and I could show it to some other doctor (or dentist) for second opinion for a small fee? It would be like having both the doctors examine you at the same time, and having their consolidated opinion. After all, medicine (or dentistry) is not a perfect science.

Reward: Peace of mind. If your family doctor is not in the same town (or country), this way you can still seek her opinion despite being far far away. Since she knows you since your childhood, her opinion would really matter a lot.

Bonus: Once these reports are online, they can be made anonymous and can be studied by various people for satisfying their curiosity, for learning or for journalizing. Systematic research on this information could lead to improvement in diagnosis through collaboration.

Car that shouts "Safety First!"

Idea: There were nearly 6,420,000 in the United States in 2005. The financial cost of these crashes is more than 230 Billion dollars. 2.9 million people were injured and 42,636 people killed. About 115 people die every day in vehicle crashes in the United States -- one death every 13 minutes. The number of auto accidents have not decreased from year 2000 despite improvements in car technology, stricter law enforcement and enhanced infrastructure. Top reason for these accidents is falling asleep on the wheel due to tiredness, and close second being DUI(Driving Under Influence). What if we could mandate sensors in all cars, which automatically dial 911 when it detects drunken state of the driver? Taking a step forward, we could install facial expression recognition software, which upon detecting tiredness/sleepiness on the driver's face, could ask (or force) the driver to stop (and get fresh).

Rewards: Safer roads. I believe we could really get rid off this artificial cause (actually #1 cause of deaths in US) of human deaths.

Bonus: The intelligence system in the car can also be programmed to contact nearby cars to inform them about drunken state (or tired state) of the driver, alerting them to be careful.


Idea: is a form of communication whose purpose is to inform potential customers about products and services and how to obtain and use them. Fact: With the rise of Corporation, the advertising industry really flourished. Fact: makes almost all their money from advertisement. Idea is simple. Advertise on roads. Of course, it does sound distracting at the first glance, but with careful thinking, this can made to work. Instead of flashy/gaudy text, companies can just put their logos on the road. If not on freeways, these advertisements can take place on city streets where traffic is already slow. You can utilize the footpath too. Government can lease the space for roadvertising and make some extra bucks.

Reward: More advertisements, more sales. Every footstep could now be translated into money through roadvertisement.

Bonus: Government could delegate the maintenance work of the block of the road or footpath to the advertising company, thereby distributing the work. This will guarantee that the roads are in excellent condition all the time. Read those ads, and say goodbye to those nasty puddles.

Online recipes targeted for your kitchen

Idea: Google the words "online recipes" and you'll get more than seven million results, all serving up free recipes. You can narrow them down by specific cuisines, or split them in vegetarian recipes and non-vegetarian ones. But frankly, nobody has got enough time to sort through all the information overload. Often times, all I want is given my current food inventory, what are the various dishes I could make? I propose a website where using various forms you maintain current status of your kitchen inventory online. Using various forms, you could enter various veggies, fruits, beans, pulses, meat forms, spices, herbs, oil, dressing, bread, sauce, pasta ... you have stocked up in your kitchen. The backend could be driven by a large recipe database. On a user request, a simple (or complex) query on this database could just return the information the user is seeking.
Reward: Now you can stop freaking out about what to cook. Just maintain your online kitchen inventory and expect suggestions in your email.

Bonus: The website could also provide you with a list of what to buy during your next grocery shopping to maintain inventory level for the recipes your like. It can also suggest adding a new ingredient to your inventory to increase your food options, for variety or for a more balanced diet.


Idea: All of us . We remember some of them, while forget the most. Most dreams leave a trace of images, thoughts and feelings in our memory. It's their flirtatious nature that continues to amuse us. Though experienced by everybody on almost daily basis, dreams are not yet fully understood and is often topic of speculation and interest. What if we could actually record all our dreams? We know that dreams are strongly correlated with REM or rapid eye movements. We could device an alarm which wakes us up immediately after REM gets over or just after you're done with your dream. Your memory about the dream is still fresh. You wake up, make a few notes about your dream, and go back to bed.

Reward: Now you could record, share, discuss, analyze all your dreams. This will be a giant step forward in human psychology.

Bonus: Although recording your dream may sounds like a good idea to you, you might not like to wake yourself up from a deep sleep. So you could enhance our alarm to monitor your sleep stages and wake you up only during the first light sleep stage after your dream. That way your sleep is not disturbed much and yet you retain most of your memory about the dream you just had.

Your TV, your Waiter!

Idea: Television Cooking shows have been perennially popular. Watching the host dish out mouth watering recipes from scratch, makes you want to recreate them yourself. You rush for the pen and paper, jot whatever you could catch while the show breezes through and at the end of the day, looking at your notes, you hardly feel the enthusiasm to make it yourself. What if it wasn't so hard? Each one of us visit restaurants but very few know the "how" of the dishes we enjoy so much. How about having a "Watch and Order" television show, in which you get to see some of your favorite dishes being made from first principles and then you get to order the very same dish as soon as it is prepared? The host can make five such dishes(of course with helpers around) and you get to choose your dish. It's almost like pressing a button to get the dish come to you through your TV.

Reward: The dish being prepared under your very own eyes - hence no chance of it being tampered with. No scary cooking ways behind the food you eat!

Bonus: You can customize your dish by giving real-time feedback about what more you would want added or deleted from your dish. You can also send in your original recipes and earn money on the show when customers order what you cook, and how well you plate it. Many bored housewives can have their afternoons filled with learning and earning!

Progressive sales tax

Idea: We all pay the . Ideally, a sales tax is supposed to be fair, should have a high compliance rate, should be difficult to avoid, should be charged exactly once on any one item, and should be simple to calculate and simple to collect. Sales tax is a ; that is, low income people tend to spend a greater percentage of their income in taxable sales (using a cross section time-frame) than higher income people. If all purchases are subject to the same tax rate, the tax rate itself is flat with higher income people paying more tax as they consume more. How about sales tax based on your income? Most of the purchases are done using credit card or debit card nowadays, which can be linked to your SSN (and hence your last year's income). When you swipe that card, the reader could use this information to charge your appropriate sales tax.

Reward: A more just tax system?

Bonus: The system could also be leveraged to give discounts based on your income range. We could also devise a different progressive tax in which the tax increases as you buy more items. This scheme will prevent us against frauds of using lower income people to buy stuff for you. Not only that, it will also encourage more efficient use of all the resources available.

Third party video tour of rental property

Idea: In today's world, everybody goes through the exercise of searching a for renting it or buying it. Most of the deals and advertisements are available in text format which provide absolutely no information about how the property looks, some of them have pretty pictures taken which are almost always outdated, a few of them actually have a 3D flash video tour, but then again it's hosted by the property owners and hence tend to shine light only on the good areas. How about having a third party video tour of rental properties? A very important thing to consider is that a lot of companies not affiliated with rental agencies already survey the properties on regular basis and have a pretty good idea about the condition of the property and the various amenities available there. e.g. gas and electric company, fire department, etc. Organizing such information and presenting it to the prospective renters and buyers could open up a tremendous opportunities.

Reward: The videos should be elaborate and the user should be able to select the right zoom level to see the various features in depth. That way a lot of making an appointment, traveling to the place, and coming back disappointed could be avoided.

Bonus: The video could also contain interviews of the property owners, residents and the neighbors of the 360 degree feedback. Maybe a live chat?

cellBoost: Steroids for your cellphone

Idea: A growing number of people rely solely on a cellphone for their telephone service, and many more are considering giving up their landline phones according to a not-so-recent survey. Another trend we notice is that cellphone is not only growing to become de-facto standard for verbal communication but also getting more popular with electronic data exchange. The problem however is cellphone service network is usually too weak for fast internet, and many of us are unhappy with spotty cell reception indoors. It's true that we cannot force service providers to install more towers. The solution is neither economic not sustainable. An interesting data point to note is most of the time we're either at home or at workplace. How about a wireless base station for the home, which boosts your service network by piggybacking on your home's or workplace's wireless internet? Not only that the device could transmit over normal cell-phone frequencies and offer a reasonable coverage area. It could also make use of a broadband modem and could send calls over the Internet, and recipients could use either landline or a cellphone.

Reward: Your hand held just became more powerful! Plus now you can stop worrying about reception with your very own cellphone booster.

Bonus: With your cellphone connected to high speed internet, you can now go about playing LAN based computer games or online multi player games too!

Of vines and wines

Idea: I recently went wine tasting and I was amazed at the skill, effort and experience it takes to produce a quality wine. I thoroughly enjoyed tour of the vineyard including how vines are grown on a commercial scale; history of the vineyard; art of winemaking and the history of the estate. The tour of the winery included the winemakers art, select tank tastings and current vintage tastings, and needless to say I ended up buying a bunch of wine bottles for home. I was about to open one of those bottles when it occurred to me: what if we could create the same magic which we experience at the vineyards at the home as well? Wine bottles could come with a DVD when played could guide us through the vineyards along with background music from the place of origin, explain us the finesse of the wine making process, introduce us to the wine-makers, and provide suggestions for what wines went with what foods.

: Recreate the magic of wine tasting on your dinner table.

Bonus: The DVD could also include information for the consumers to plan a scenic tour to the vineyards. The sponsorship of these commercials could pay for the DVD.

NextChat: next generation chatroom

Idea: Instead of simply having avatars to represent people, and emoticons to express human emotions, what if we could simulate real facial expression on a 3D model of each person and have this animated person sit in a virtual coffee house or an online bar. You go to the , you see several tables, where a group of people are socializing. You can "check out" people, glance over their moods, request songs on the jukebox, perform small dance moves, play pool with other people, ignite a conversation. If you feel bored, you walk away and find a different set of people.

Reward: Chat away to glory, now in !

Bonus: You might include features like when you let your mouse glide over someone in the coffee house, basic information could be displayed, like age, status, interests, what they are looking for, and maybe a picture, then you could decide if you want to chat with them.

vManual: Video manual for your reference

Idea: Everybody owns at least a handful of gadgets, and yet nobody knows what to do when your , or your , or your PDA stops responding. Sure, all of these products come with owner's manuals that talk about various components of the system, how it actually works, how to efficiently make use of various feature it provides. But frankly it's too boring to read. Also, when it comes to troubleshooting, following the instructions from the manual can be really cumbersome. How about shipping these product with (third-party?) video manuals detailing functionalities of various parts of the system with video links to troubleshooting frequently caused problems?

Reward: No more reading boring printed manuals!

Bonus: Now the customer, Joe can create an online account and videos tailored for him could be transferred to his account for a small fee. just got easier!

Digital office art

Idea: For centuries, art continues to inspire us. The paintings capture the emotions of the artist, and the spirit of creation reaches the eye of the beholder. Paintings breathe life into their surroundings, inspiring everyone who enjoys them. No wonder almost all the workplaces are filled with real, original paintings to inspire the people working there. The goal there is to make the workers happier, ultimately resulting in higher productivity. When I was strolling through the paintings from in my office, it occurred to me, why not have digital frames for the paintings? That way, we can lease digital rights to display famous artwork in our offices, and rotating them on hourly basis would enrich the surroundings with life. Rotating artwork adds to dynamics of the workplace. People respond to their environment, and a work environment empowered with enduring works of art is one of the simplest investments that you can make to establish an enthusiastic work culture.

Reward: An artistic work environment!

Bonus: You could add intelligence into the digital frame network, so that it eventually learns the kind of painting people like, and show them those paintings more often. It can also learn the mood of people during meeting and display a soothing painting to keep the things calm.

mWallet: cellphone is your mobile wallet

Idea: Remember the lines from ? George: "Because important things go in a case. You got a skull for your brain, a plastic sleeve for your comb, and a wallet for your money". Nowadays in addition to cash, you need to carry multiple credit/debit cards in your wallet. How about a cellphone which can be programmed to provide an interface to all your credit/debit cards? For example, your cellphone could have an interface to use each of your cards, and once you select a card to use, it sends an encrypted SMS to the shop. Instead of swipe machines, the shop could have smart SMS readers who can decrypt the message and use the card information from the message towards the customer's shopping cart.

Reward: No need to carry physical cards in your wallet. Remember? Jerry: [referring to George's stuffed wallet] "Your friend is morbidly obese".

Bonus: Secure shopping! Since you don't need to carry your credit/debit cards, your shopping can be really hassle-free.

Airport wishlist : Intelligent sleeping lounges

Idea: In past couple of years, I have spent an incredible amount of time on the airports. Many of us usually do, especially when you are on a long trip and you have a stopover in the middle. Odds are that you are going to be spending a long-boring-lifeless-tiring time at the airport during such a stopover. If you are suffering from depression, this might just push you over the edge! I thought about making this stay bearable. I usually can't get decent sleep in flights due to insufficient leg-room, and hence the very first thought which crossed my mind was how about dark, (somewhat) soundproof, and intelligent sleeping lounges? You swipe in your boarding pass on your bed, and it records information about you and your flight and wakes you up right on time. Also, if there is any announcement for you or your flight, your bed records it for you while it wakes you up depending on the urgency of the announcement.

Reward: Sleep! Your body gets a chance to recover from the jet lag before your reach your final destination.

Bonus: Why pay for pricey memberships for various airline lounges if all your care about is getting a good sleep? You can also get your bed to order a bed-tea for you when you wake up!

It's an escort, it's a tour guide, it's your rental car!

Idea: Packaged tours are nice. Your day is planned, you have a tour guide who takes you everywhere. Sure you save some bucks, but you lose your privacy and freedom, and to certain extent your preferences. What if your rental car is the tour guide for you. It may come with a loaded yet configurable program, a , and a GPS. As soon as you land on a new place, with a few questions and answers, it can decide a romantic or an adventurous itinerary for you. It can also take you to your favorite restaurant and better yet, make reservations for you. Last but not the least, your car can provide you with historical background, local information, and some juicy gossips about the places you visit throughout your travel.

Reward: Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!

Bonus: If yours is a bigger group and you end up renting multiple cars, it can also coordinate the crew, entertain them, and trigger conversation with random ice-breakers!

mBackup : A universal phone directory

Idea: Every one of us goes through an experience where you either lose your phone or it gets stolen or your phone becomes unusable when you need it the most. Cost of the phone is the least concern at that point. What's more inconvenient is the loss of data on your cellphone, especially your contact list which you've built over time. You can keep a copy in sync with your cellphone either on your computer or on physical notepad! Keeping the contacts in sync is an annoying task, and so is restoring them on your new device. How about a facility in your cellphone to backup your contacts (and possibly other data) on a remote server. Now you can access not only your voice mail but also your contact list from any phone around the world. Isn't that just convenient? Once you have all the data online, restoring it on a new device becomes easy and so does sharing it.

Reward: Once you have all the data online, restoring it on a new device becomes easy and so does sharing it across any number of cellphones.

Bonus: With all the phone directories online, (and other anti-terror organizations) can have tighter control over global communication!

Babel fish in your cellphone

Idea: recently published an article chalking out cellphone revolution. Google CEO Eric Schmidt predicts "a huge revolution" in the way cellphones are being used by various people. It started me thinking. What if your phone could do on-the-fly language translation for you? Now, you don't have to worry about honing your foreign language skills. If you're an effective speaker in your language, your are an effective speaker everywhere. Cellphone being such a universal device is always going to be with you. We already have facilities like text-to-speech and language translation. To achieve on-the-fly language translation in phones, we would just need to combine these two technologies, and you will become a polyglot immediately.

Reward: No more "lost in translation"

Bonus: ' soul can rest in peace when we'll have a in our pockets.

WebDoctor: Online Medical Reports Analysis Tools

Idea: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away", however all of us eat apples, and all us go to doctors. Some of us go to doctors only when absolutely necessary, while the others are more disciplined and believe in regular checkup/feedback. Most of the time during these regular checkups, the doctors consult your report and give you a prescription, a suggestion (e.g. eat more fruits, drink less coke), a tip (e.g. walk 20 minutes after lunch), or a combination of these, mostly in order to take some preventive measures. What if we could have all our medical reports (in a standardized format) online, and run an analysis tool which can email us (or send us an SMS or place an automated call) and gives us very similar feedback? No more making appointments for routine checkups, no more waiting in lines, no more taking time off during a working day, and no more doctor's consultation fees. If the analysis tool finds something alarming, it can ask you to consult a doctor (or send an ambulance for you right away).

Reward: "Health is Wealth!", you happy soul is the biggest reward you could get.

Bonus: A click a day could keep the doctor away!

Phonecall Transcripts

Idea: Telephonic communication has become integral part of everybody's life. Many ideas are discussed, appreciated, and discarded (and forgotten) during these calls. A lot of business conference calls carry very important information which either needs to be noted down or recorded manually. What if when you place a call or receive a call, your cellphone (or service provider) provides you with an option to record the conversation. If you select that option, the other party gets notified and can either choose to continue with the call or hang up. This way, all the important calls can get recorded and get stored either on your phone (with iPhone you have upto 8GB storage, and hence space should not be an issue), or in your account at service provider; which could later be retrieved either on your phone in form of a voicemail or an audio-clip which can be downloaded and stored.

Reward: With ever increasing cheaper storage, you can record all your conversations for (i) taking notes, (ii) gathering evidence, (iii) cherishing old memories, or (iv) pure fun.

: You can get to use the words, "your call may be monitored or recorded to insure quality of service". Also, you can use Speech-to-text on your phone conversation and record the entire conversation in a text file.

Brave New Interview

Idea: In United States, typically one goes through a couple of rounds of telephonic interview before one is called on-site for a full day interview. While this is sufficient for a high-tech position, has serious shortcomings for a management position since it require dealing with human factors more than the other jobs. e.g. teamwork. We could communicate a short project detail beforehand and call a bunch of candidates for the positions involved in carrying out this project. These candidates can collaborate and decide upon an action plan before they're all called together on-site. They'll be given a week to carry out their project. And at the end of the week, you decide if everybody did their part well. Of course, help should be provided before they appear on-site and also during their interview week. But this will give employer a very clear idea about how exactly the candidate is going to be useful at the company. The small project can range from doing a roadshow for IPO to preparing quarterly financial results for a press release, making arrangements for an upcoming company conference to devising a new mutual fund.

Reward: True assessment of a candidate. Avoid a lot of hiring mistakes like this.

Bonus: (Almost) free employees for a week. No reference checks necessary!

Voice to Video

Idea: I was configuring Microsoft , and that's when it occurred to me. We all talk to many people on daily basis, and the talk often includes narration of a scene where two or more people are conversing. The best the narrator can do depends on how well he narrates or rather how effectively he creates the character who are conversing in his narration in his audience. A video aid here would help tremendously. The way I see this working is as follows: The narrator starts talking about a conversation which took place between Alice and Bob. The video aid could create two animated characters on the screen. By catching a few action verbs like walk, slap, hand-shake, move, fall, smile, cry, etc., the characters on the screen could be animated. Now if in the middle of that conversation Charlie walks in, a third animated character could walk into the screen. Leaving a little to imagination, video aid can be used really effectively.

Reward: You can become a very good presenter because now you're able to convey exactly what's going on in your mind. You can literally "speak your mind out"!

Bonus: You can combine text to speech and speech to video, and start making small animated movies just based on a written transcript. I bet "filming" of could easily be done using this technology.

Social networking in flights

Idea: A flight journey may it be a long one or a short one, it's boring. Considering the capacity of the modern planes, a flight journey is a perfect candidate for social networking. A poor man's approach to this would be to distribute a questionnaire to each passenger asking them their name, occupation, interests, etc; and then match up (i.e. make them sit together) people with similar interests. Good news is technology comes to our aid now, and we have internet facility in flights. We can develop social networking applications (something like for flights) or gizmos for this small subset of people, and in the end everybody leaves happy (not bored!) and maybe with a couple of new friends. People can share their travel experience, business class people hold a mini-conference, the possibilities are endless.

Reward: An interesting flight journey.

Bonus: Group games also might be possible here. e.g. Mafia, Poker, Quizzing, Two truths and a lie.

Staircase or floor?

Idea: How about a floor that converts a portion of itself into a staircase? We could leverage the weight of the portion of the floor and the weight of the person using the floor/staircase to push the staircase down. A lot of multi-storied buildings have staircases in them which get used only in event of emergencies. With floor converting itself into a staircase, we could reuse the space for day-to-day activities. Of course, there will be work needed to optionally empty the space to be used by staircases in event of an emergency.

Reward: A rough estimate is that staircases occupy 10% of the building space. With this idea, we could add that 10% back for regular use of office-space.

Bonus: The use of the staircases can now be regulated, which could be very useful to manage the rush in event of an emergency.

Flying ringtone

Idea: A couple of days ago, I read an article about flying alarm clock. This clock would just make your life miserable in the morning if you're not willing to really wake up. You can find the original article here. This got me thinking, what if we could design our cellphones like this. As soon as you receive a call, you phone (or better yet your bluetooth headset) should come flying to you. As soon as you catch it, and click "stop flying" button, it can stop, and you start talking.

Reward: No need to carry cellphone or bluetooth headsets while at home.

Bonus: Your flying headset could make different shapes in air (or fly differently) depending on the caller.