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Living Plant

The world is growing with devices that sense and respond to data available on the interweb or the real world. And with the fact that we’re now closely connected to people we couldn’t be further apart from, we’ll need more and more ways to show how we’re feeling at any one point in time with people who can’t always see or hear us.

Short of going online and ordering a physical gift to be shipped in a physical truck by a physical person to their door, how about some way to solidify the virtual?

How about a physical entity you sit on your desk at home. Maybe a cute, colorful plastic “flower” arrangement that I can connect to my computer and select for it to bloom with daisies. Every morning the flowers would open, at night they’d close up to sleep.

So that’s still just me and my expensive flowers that never need to be refreshed or rebought. What about the virtual shenanigans? Well, have a friend send a tweet, click on a link, post their feelings on Facebook, whatever and voila, they could change those daisies to roses (to show their love).

Little plastic petals extending and retracting to show you a physical manifestation of their remote and virtual feelings.

Possible names:
– Pokesies
– iBouquet
– ForgetMeNots

Possible other products:
– A smiley face orb with changing facial expressions
– a little flag pole where different flags get raised
– a lamp where friends can adjust the brightness and color

iApplause Meter

We’ve all seen applause meters on TV shows (an elsewhere) to measure response to something. This is following the imminently foolproof logic that applause level = popularity. Thus, in a world of distributed audiences.. How do we measure popularity? How about an app that uses the built-in accelerometer to measure applause.

You have an iPhone, dowload the app, put the phone in your hands, then clap. That’s simple. If you’re American Idol, create your event in the app, allow your audience sitting at home download the app, sign-in to the event, then wait for the clap. Measure claps from all over the world. Really know when something is popular.

Possible app names:
TheClap
PopClap
ClapTrap
Applausible

Next Step iPhone

I’ve been wondering for a while what the next next thing should be for the iPhone. If you think about where drops in hardware costs are going, you an start to see when certain capabilities start to virtually be free. That’s how we ended up with two cameras on each iPhone 4, as they are basically free.

So what’s next? How about drops in the cost of the touchscreens themselves? The nintendo DS has had more than one touchscreen.. They keep being able to make bigger/cheape screens.. So why not two? If you need to use two apps (or same app) at the same time, just turn to the back of the phone and power up the 2nd screen. Then just switch between them. Open that safari link to the other screen with the hours for your favorite restaurant and then pop up the google map directions on the other.

It’ll happen…

Sales Tax

I buy a lot of things on Amazon.com. I buy more things using their iPhone app than most people buy period. Right after ordering some baby gear today I thought about the whole online sales tax issue. Given that I live in California, I have paid the use tax that is on the California state tax form where you’re supposed to declare the value of tax-free, out-of-state purchases that you have made. Most people probably don’t fill this portion out. And who knows whether one gets it right.

But should one have to pay this sales tax?

The thinking for has always been that the state is losing revenue that it needs to pay for services, etc. Which I understand. But the thought I had today was how much I avoid shopping at stores like Babys R Us because I drive all that way, burning fossil fuels, adding greenhouse gases into the air, using up city streets, state highways and interstates all to find a store which doesn’t have what I am looking for. So if I don’t make that journey, aren’t I saving the various forms of government hard and soft costs to deal with that added strain I place on the infrastructure and environment?

But what about the “cardboard commerce” and all of its overhead? Well, cardboard is supposedly one of the most recycled and re-used materials, so perhaps it’s not as much of a cost as the plastic bags that many of these stores add to the world. What about the transportation infrastructure? Well, properly used, I would imagine that a UPS truck delivering all of these packages is like commuters using a train or bus – better than individual cars. Plus, as with most transportation fleets these days like taxis, buses, etc. they are more likely to use non-gasoline alternatives.

So perhaps the savings to the infrastructure and environment mean that I am decreasing my burden on the governments around me and thus perhaps I don’t need to pay as much of the taxes for those goods I am getting in a slightly better, more efficient way.

I don’t know the numbers. Your thoughts?

Extra-Innings

This one’s a little “out there” but fun. It’s been sitting around in a notebook for a while, so I can’t really tell you when I came up with it. The idea is this:

You’ve been sitting for hours watching a baseball game. It’s been a good game, but it’s been tied for a few innings and we’ve gone into extra innings. It’s starting to get cold, they’ve probably stopped selling bear, and you’ve had all the peanuts you can shuck. So what now?

Well, the idea is that when a game goes into extra innings… perhaps just when it’s been a few innings (say they just finished the 10th), it’s now times to force something to happen. Even better, it’s time to get those cold, dedicated fans into the action.

So if a game goes into the 11th inning, and for each inning thereafter, each team has to pick one fan from the stands to come into the game for one of the professionals. This should shake things up, but the game still might go on for a while. Perhaps it’ll end up with all fans on the field?

I guess it might be a disadvantage to the visiting team to have to use one of the fans, even if they try to screen them, as they might be fans for the home team and help throw the game. So perhaps the vaunted “home field advantage” should come at a price. If you can’t win the game using that advantage by the 10th inning, you then get the “home field disadvantage”, this would be where only the home team has to replace a professional with a fan.

Of course that would give the visiting team an advantage, but you’re a hometown fan, if you really believe in your team, you know they can win no matter who they have on the field.