Describe Your Million Dollar Invention

I’m sure many of you have thought of unique inventions or discoveries, did nothing to advance the idea beyond the daydream and prototype doodle stage, then, at some later date, lament someone else bringing “your” idea to the masses, making fist’s full of money and gaining world-wide prestige (e.g. The Snuggie Blanket, Supersymmetic M-theory and The Fart Machine…all originally my ideas!)

We generally keep our great ideas close to the vest, lest someone steal and run with them, ultimately reaping the wealth and glory that we, the originators, are entitled to—right? But, let’s face it, most of us really have no intention of taking out patents, mortgaging our houses and devoting a large chunk of our lives gambling on the marketability of our concept-only inventions, do we? No, the best most of us can expect are bragging rights to a handful of friends and acquaintances, upon seeing our inventions pop up on some late night infomercial: “you know, Betty, I thought about putting dusting slippers on cats long before this commercial came out.” And the worst part is, the reply we get, even from our closest friends and family members, is usually something like, “yeah, suuure you did.” It’s enough to take the wind out of your sails when even your mother doubts the sincerity of your claim to the idea for cat slipper dusters (and no, I don’t think I over-reacted when I cut my 88yo mom off from her stool softener for a week after she slighted me this way).

Anyway, here is your chance to preemptively strike any future doubters of inventions that you have no intention of developing past concept, but may be brought to market by someone else. If they doubt your claim of originality, you can reference this date-stamped thread to which you describe your invention. And who knows, maybe some venture capitalist doper will be so enthralled with your idea, he’ll back you in a start-up company.

I’ll get the ball rolling:

Invention: The Expanded Vocabulary Automobile Horn

Purpose: To bring a degree of civility back to the roadway; to decrease road rage; to decrease accidents/collisions

The standard car horn has a very limited “vocabulary”. The average duration honk is used in most circumstances, usually for the purpose of getting another driver’s attention to a potential, but imminent safety issue, or to express some type of inter-driver displeasure. I believe most of us, as recipient of this irritating, piercing honk, will interpret it as calling you, “JACKASS!”, or something similar in tone and meaning. The longer duration straight-armed honk ups the ante to yelling, “You Big Scum-Sucking JACKASS!.” Even the short duration, karate chop, staccato honk that one typically reserves for less threatening, non-irritated situations, even when executed well, often sounds like it’s saying, “Ass!” “Ass!” “Ass!”. Is it any wonder there’s so much road rage on our roadways when our automobiles can express nothing vocal-wise except low-brow name-calling?

Certainly, in this day and age, the automobile industry has the technology to cost effectively produce horns with an expanded, but standardized vocabulary. We must, of course, keep the current beep, because sometimes you really do need to call another driver a jackass. We simply need to add a few expressions to the repertoire. These could either be actual synthesized voices, or, better still in my opinion, a short series of musical “notes” that convey the intended message.

The most important additions are honks that translates as, “may I?” and the replies, “sure ‘nuff” or “sorry, no”. The most common use for this exchange would be when passing on the right on a multi-lane highway, with the intention of cutting ahead of the car on the left. We all hate it when someone cuts ahead of us on the highway, but would we mind nearly as much if they asked permission first? If, just ahead of me on the left, a driver flashed his turn signal and asked “may I”, I’d nearly always reply, “sure ‘nuff”, then fade back giving him room to cut in (of course, he’d better follow up with the little wave-of-thanks, or he gets a follow-up “JACKASS!”). To express this call and response musically instead of synthetically-voiced, I’d like to use the “do do da do do” from Shave and a Haircut as the “may I?” with the response, “do do” as the affirmative or a descending-pitch wa-waaaa trombone slide as the negative.

Another important horn voice addition is one that translates loosely as, “wake up, buttercup.” This would be a gentler application of the staccato “Ass!” “Ass!” “Ass!” currently at our disposal for the purpose of getting a drivers attention. When the person stopped ahead of me at a traffic light looks like my dearly departed Nanna, momentarily absent-minded of the light turning green because she’s (it looks like to me) handing her passenger (who reminds me of my dearly departed Pop Pop) what looks like one of her home-made tollhouse cookies (that she used to make for me when I was good), I’m disinclined to blare, “ASS!”“ASS!” “ASS!” at her. I just want to get her attention gently with some type of pleasant sound, like, perhaps, the sound of quacking ducks (Nanna always liked ducks).

We could certainly add more expressions to the car horn vocabulary (“wolf whistle”/”no chance, loser”; “will you be leaving this parking spot anytime this week”/”not till I make you squirm a little longer, Mr. Parking Lot Stalker”; “Police Siren”/”I gave liberally to the Fraternal Order of Police this year, officer”…etc. ), but, in the interest of keeping the steering wheel horn buttons to a manageable few, I’m inclined to stick with those mentioned above.

Comments on my new horn? Investors? I may share one or two other million dollar ideas down-thread, but now it’s your turn. Bogart your inventions no longer, you’re not going to take them to market, so share them with us. We need a few laughs.

It’s squarish, red, and kinda heavy.

And it costs a MILLION DOLLARS!



Somebody is going to make a killing on a keyboard for mobile devices that is specifically designed to be operated by thumbs alone.

Speaking of the horn, was not something like this in use some years ago? I remember from The Dukes of Hazzard the musical horn of the General Lee.

Start with a recumbent bike, then replace the front and rear wheels with push-reel lawn mowers. Mow your lawn, get some aerobic, lay on your back and drink lemonade.

Styrofoam cup with a window of regular thin plastic- lets you check how warm your coffee is without burning your lips.

I want to invent a hairspray that causes girls hair to look constantly wet, like they just got out of the shower.

Jheri Curl.

Here’s mine:

A remote-controlled, blinking array of LED lights. Attach it to your mailbox. If you’ve called an ambulance, ordered a pizza, or you otherwise need to get the attention of someone who might be driving by your house, activate the light (from the comfort of your own home!). It will flash brightly, letting the EMT/pizza guy/whoever know which house is yours. In rural areas this could be the difference between life and death w/r/t ambulance calls.

A similar application: a remote-controlled, blinking array of LED lights on a motorized, expandable pole. Put it on the roof of your car. Looking for your car in a huge parking lot? Press the button, the pole expands and starts flashing, and you know immediately which car is yours.

Sunscreen in the shower. Attached the sunscreen tube to the nozzle (like those pesticide things you attach to a garden hose).

Get your body covered with sunscreen before going to the beach, but less messy and inconvenient than squirting it out of a tube.

Somebody should make a horn with downloadable ring tones. Like the new Jay Z song? 99 cents to download it to your phone, $2.99 to download it to your car horn. Now whenever you’re angry at another motorist they’ll know you’re in an Empire State of Mind.

I consider this a real do-able idea but I’m in no position to develop it so I’ll share.

Motorized wheeled suitcases. Carry a little fob in your pocket or clip it to your belt and your motorized wheeled suitcase will follow you as you make your way through the airport. You would no longer need to drag your suitcase around. Just for fun, it would make a sound like in the flying cars in The Jetsons.

Challenges to overcome:
[li]Weight - Motor has to be light enough to not add significant weight to the suitcase, but strong enough to propel a full suitcase. Need to be able to lift into overhead bins.[/li][li]Stability - Tipping, falling over, use Segway technology?[/li][li]Battery Life - Self explanatory.[/li][li]Durability - Checked luggage takes a beating.[/li][/ul]

I thought that was what that red button on the keyfob was for.

True story:

I was working in Vancouver for a few weeks and I could not remember what kind of rental car I had, I had been travelling quite a bit and had more than a few rentals, but I knew it was on a particular level of underground parking so I hit the panic button to find the car. If you want to attract the attention of bicycle driving security people in a hurry, do this.

A universal translator.

a portable device. You speak into a microphone, the translator does it’s thing, then says it (via a small speaker) in whatever language you have it set to.

This thing would be great for traveling abroad.

With voice tech being what it is these days, it doesn’t seem like it would be all that hard to make.

Also, vibrating “earphones” for the deaf. A device that could be worn as a necklace or around the cusp of the ears. Instead of music coming out, the “earphones” would just vibrate along with the tempo of the music.

They have these for golf clubs, and have for years. The first time I saw one, some old guy was walking towards his clubs – as they were rolling away from him towards a water hazard! For a split second I thought about running to help, before they took a bath, and then realized what was happening.

Obviously they could be easily modified for suitcases as well.

Solar powered eyeglasses to correct your vision.

How would they differ from unpowered eyeglasses that correct your vision?

Well, you don’t need vision correction if it’s dark. :wink:

They would cost a whole lot more!

(Where did you think the million bucks were going to come from?)

An internet forum for travel that would help those looking for trips and pay those arranging trips.

Here’s the pitch:

How many times have you thought: “I need a vacation!” Only to find out that you’re not sure where you want to go and you’re not sure what the best prices are, where to stay, how to get around, etc. You could spend hours checking flights from your hometown and then possibly missing the best price due to being one or two days off! Well, come on down to TRIPPLANNER.COM*, fill out the survey of what you’re looking for in a trip then sit back and wait for the results.

How does this work? The survey you filled out will go into the details. Want a beach vacation? Want to see one of the new 7 wonders of the world and aren’t sure how to get around in that country? Or maybe you know that you want to go to Disney World and stay in an exact hotel, but aren’t sure of the dates or how to get the best price?

Your survey gets posted to the forum and is viewed by the public who will review what you want and make their suggestions. If you pick one of their recommendations and book it, you win by getting the trip you wanted. They win by getting a small payment/frequent flyer miles from the airline/car rental company/hotel/etc.

I would love a website like that right now as we’re having the hardest time trying to plan our next trip.
*Not a real website