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For Convenience’s Sake | Million-Dollar Idea Store :: We think better than you.
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Genius in Real Time

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For Convenience’s Sake

Poptartwich


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Pop Tarts are good any time of the day. They’re good for breakfast, at lunch time, or for a late-night snack. The only issue with Pop Tarts (we’ll say this, because you don’t have the guts) is there are two in a package. Lest you appear some kind of pig, you mustn’t eat both, right?

Ahhh...the wondrous new replacement for bread.

Now let’s talk sandwiches. Clearly one of the most perfect foods, the sandwich is both functional and filling. It’s both delicious and convenient. But let’s face it…besides the Monte Cristo (a regular hand and cheese that’s been deep fried) there haven’t been any real advancements in sandwich technology — particularly in the bread department. Sure, there are rolls and different types of breads, and KFC made a sandwich that has chicken breasts instead of bread, but we can do better.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Poptartwich.

This simple bit of brilliance is exactly what it sounds like: A sandwich made with Pop Tarts instead of bread.

Simply take a Pop Tart (I suggest strawberry or blueberry) and slather peanut butter on the unfrosted side. Stick that to the other Pop Tart in the package. Enjoy.

Wanna really mix it up? Add a little marshmallow Fluff. In fact, Fluff is the perfect thing to place between some of the sweeter Pop Tart varieties — the chocolate ones, in particular.

Brilliant, right? Now you can enjoy BOTH Pop Tarts in the package, and fill your belly with a simply, delicious sandwich, all at once.

Enjoy! And send us pics of yourselves enjoying the Poptartwich.

Loaf of sandwich


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We’ve all been there. You want a sandwich, but you don’t have the fixings. And a trip to the store seems wasteful just for a simple PBJ. But you go anyway. You get your bread and perhaps peanut butter. You return home. And in the midst of sandwich making you find you have no jelly.

What a waste.

Happy time is over, right?

Wrong.

The problem with bread is thus: What, besides making sandwiches, do you actually DO with it? Pretty much nothing. So why do we buy sandwich components separately, when clearly we’d be happier with a single-purchase item: good bye, loaf of bread; hello, loaf of sandwich.

The loaf of sandwich would be, well, a loaf of PBJs, stacked ever-so-neatly inside a lovely bread bag. Most likely, the individual sandwiches would be separated by wax paper. And, of course, the loaf of sandwich would be available in the freezer section.

Think about it: You want a sandwich for lunch. You don’t want it to be all soggy and warm by the time you get to it at work. Just break a sammy off the loaf, stuff it in a bag and go. No jars. No knives. No dishes to wash, no fear of running out of ingredients. Just delicious sandwiches.

THAT, friends, is real sandwich bread.

Connected cars


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How many times have you been driving down the road, minding your own business, and suddenly someone is blowing their horn at you? It’s disconcerting — alarming, even. You’re immediately forced to look around, wondering if you’re about to have an accident or if you just ran a red light or cut someone off. To make matters worse, sometimes you never find out!

As a communication device, the horn is severely lacking. First of all, it’s one-way communication. Second, it’s pretty one-dimensional. A beep to say hello sounds startlingly like a beep to say “Hey you’re about to hit a tree!”

We can do better.

Traffic jams: Another way to connect with the world around you.

There have been some pretty decent developments in heads-up displays, and I think that technology needs to be better leveraged. Consider a world where all cars are wirelessly connected in a network that allows for two-way communication with vehicles within a certain proximity. Add to that a head-up display with a motion-aware input. Instead of blowing your horn, you could point to the car you’re trying to contact and send a message to the driver, which would appear on that car’s HUD.

Before you get all worked up, I already see the huge flaw here: the abusive language and other harassment that could come from it. That could be handled through a content filter, or by a predetermined set of messages. You don’t really want drivers reading long messages on their windshield while they’re supposed to be watching the road, so there would have to be a character limit as well.

In addition, these wired cars could make driving safer and cut down on the number of traffic cops on the road by pulling and reporting data to the driver during the trip. Imagine if your heads-up display could show you the speed limit on the road you were traveling, warn you of a stop light or dangerous curve ahead? Imagine if your HUD could tell you when you’ve run a red light. I’m not proposing that each car would report each infraction back to police HQ, where your ticket would be processed and mailed to you; the mere fact that a driver has all the information needed as they drive would certainly help keep them in line.

Now, the first production car with a heads-up display was the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. In 1988. That’s more than 20 years ago, and we haven’t figured out how to use it yet?

By “we” I mean “they.” Obviously my part of the “we” construct has figured it out just fine.

Text your order


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There are few things that annoy me more than long lines at the drive-thru. One of those things is the person ahead of me in the long line at the drive-thru who hasn’t made up his mind what he’s going to order. The convenience of ordering from the car is gone when I’m in line 15 minutes.

Satisfying your Big Mac attack is so easy, you can even do it on this cave man phone.

Here’s how to fix this: Text your order. Genius, I know!

I want a Number One from McDonald’s on Main Street. I text my order, get a return text with my order number, drive up to the express window and pick it up. I’m charged on my cell phone bill (or, I could set up an account prior and have it direct debited from my checking account) so I don’t even need to go through the hassle of getting money out or making change — just drive up to the window, tell them your number, and enjoy the delicious Big Mac.

It’s all pretty simple, really.

Noise un-cancelling headphones


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Noise-cancelling headphones are a must if you enjoy music. There’s nothing quite like trying to immerse yourself in whatever you’re listening to, only to be thwarted by the sounds of incessant chatter around you, babies crying, car horns blaring, or just the rumble of the subway train. A good pair of headphones will drown all of that out, leaving you with only sweet sounds.

Earbuds are great, but removing them just to hear someone speaking to you sucks.

But noise-cancelling headphones can also be frustrating. Someone’s trying to get your attention — probably to tell you something you don’t want to hear anyway. They tap you on the shoulder. You take off the headphones. They babble something. You put the headphones back on, situate them just right, immerse yourself.

Then they tap your shoulder again. Headphones off. Listen. Headphones on. Adjust. Repeat.

Noise un-cancelling headphones would solve that problem by allowing an external noise pass-through. A control on the headphone cable would drop the sound level delivered by the device they’re plugged into, and boost the volume of the outside noise delivered through the headphones themselves. The outside noise would be captured by external mics.

This allows you to hit a button to hear whatever you need to of the outside world, without removing your earbuds or taking off your headset. Perfect for train, bus or plane travel, studio recording sessions and more.

Problem solved. You’re welcome.

Lawnmower drink holder


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There are a billion types of drink holders for riding lawnmowers or golf carts. But

Close, but no cigar. This thing would spill your drink all over.

what about us poor saps who have to actually push our lawnmowers around on hot summer days? Do we not work just as hard? Are we not entitled to cool liquid refreshment?

You can get a drink holder for your push mower. Problem is, they’re all at a fixed horizontal plane, which means the second you start pushing uphill or downhill, you’ll be spilling your lemonade.

The Million-Dollar Idea is a drink holder that’s made from a simple Velcro-style strap attached to the lawnmower handle. It will swing freely, so gravity will keep the container from tipping over.

Mine would come with a nice sports bottle, maybe even insulated. Because I’m nice like that.

Vibrating ice scraper


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I’ve been talking about this forever, and even wrote about it three years ago.

MIT students tried to bring my vision to life. They didn't quite get it right.

My neck of the woods is often cold and snowy, and nothing is more frustrating on a cold winter day than scraping the ice from the windows of the car. A small degree of vibration would certainly help break up the ice, especially when it’s thick.

Now, some obviously astute students from MIT must have seen my former blog post, and actually built one of these a few months ago. So you can file this one under “Done.”

My only criticisms? 1. The handle is too big and cumbersome. This contraption doesn’t need a lot of power to be effective; think smaller. 2. I’m not given credit for this invention, even though clearly the idea was mine.