Monday, February 21, 2011

Continuing the "Ideas for Good" Push...

Just one more week to go!  The Toyota "Ideas for Good" challenge closes for entries next Sunday so we need to keep improving our submissions and take a last look for new ideas.  I've got more for everyone to think about, but more on that at the bottom. 

Let's get to issues with our current ideas first.  The ideas for Adapting Solar-Powered Ventilation Systems to livestock and horse trailers has brought up two issues we need to address.  One is from a kind commenter who noted seeing something similar in an actual Toyota commercial.  While looking for it online the closest I saw were some submitted ideas for refrigerated trucks and didn't see the exact idea.  Maybe that's just my poor googling skills.  But either way it needs to be creatively differentiated in any submission to oversome this potential obstacle.  There is also the rule from Toyota that ideas can't be used in the automotive industry, including "cars, car manufacturing, or car sales".  I still think this idea sits outside those parameters and is eligible but we must be certain to address that when crafting the submission.

That being said I'd like to draft two submissions to get things started.  Hopefully you have some thoughts on how to improve these or even encourage you to submit a similar idea.  And it let's us draft first and review later so we can edit it with fresh eyes (as the judges certainly will).

  • Solar-Powered Horse Trailer Cooling: There are nearly 10 million horses in the US and many travel short distances to local trailheads and county fairs, and long distances for horse show competitions.  But these trips can expose horses to dangerous temperature swings since very few horse trailers are air-conditioned/heated, and those that are rely on power from gasoline engines.  There are also many laws on the humane transport of horses.  So I propose adding solar-powered ventilation to horse trailers to keep the interior temperature-controlled while on the road.  Rest stops on hot days can also be tough on animals but can be mitigated through solar cooling.  This could also be used on trailers transporting livestock or even circus animals!
  • Touch Tracers in Schools: Each year over 10 million elementary school children learn handwriting, and schools could use the Touch Tracer Display technology to provide teachers new tools to improve the learning process.  Students would practice writing at their desks on an adapted Touch Tracer pad that would transmit the writing real-time to a monitor on the teacher's desk (or to a mobile tablet).  Teachers would watch their own displays and identify which students need personal assistance.  It would also be useful for teaching children with developmental or learning disabilities (such as dyslexia) by identifying the key obstacles these students must overcome and for researchers to better understand the fine-motor development process in children.

Finally, my new idea is adapting the Touch Tracer Display technology to construction equipment and industrial displays.  In construction, tall crane operators would receive a heads-up visual display of the controls they are pushing while watching heavy steel being lifted or a buildng be carefully demolished.  Although operators may be hundreds of feet in the air the loads they are moving may have only inches of clearance.  So providing a heads-up display would help them maintain tighter control over their movements and prevent costly accidents. 

Alternatively, industrial control rooms could connect the instrument controls used by machine operators to screens veiweable by other workers.  For highly dangerous operations this would allow colleagues to beter coordinate their actions and prevent accidents.

So those are today's thoughts.  But I'm also interested in what you think.  I'm eager to hear your thoughts on my submissions and am happy to help you with any ideas you are developing.  So add to the comments below and let's help each other win this contest!


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