Problem 34 – Communicating with the Deaf

Problem

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Unless you know sign langauge, it can be very difficult to communicate with a deaf person, especially when face to face and carrying out everyday tasks.

Possible Solution

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As a deaf person would usually already know sign langauge, what is required is something that can translate sign langauge to the other person. This can be done by having motion sensors on the hands of the deaf person to detect the gestures. This information can then be relayed to the listener’s phone via bluetooth, and then be read out using the phone’s artifical intelligence system. If the person who isn’t deaf wears earphones and listens through them, then the experience will also become more seamless.

Similarly, when the other person speaks, their phone’s microphone can pick up the words and then relay this information to a screen on the deaf person’s motion sensing wearable as text.

Of course, there are potential problems with this solution. One problem can be seen as a disadvantage for the deaf person, as they have to look at their device when the other person is speaking. The translation might also have inaccuracies, especially in noisy environments, and there is also the potential of a time delay when sending the information between devices. However as artifical intelligence gets smarter, there should be fewer inaccuracies.

I think another solution could become more practical in the future, which involves augmented reality. This could allow a deaf person to have a conversation with someone else just as they normally would, except even people who don’t understand sign langauge will be able to fully understand them. This will be due to the various sensors on the AR devices, and also the display of information in real world environments.

As always if you think you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

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Problem 33 – Cooling Without a Fan

Problem

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Using a fan is the most common method of cooling, however it is not always the most practical or elegant. Fans are usually not very practical, although there are portable fans, they are usually not very elegant to carry around and can run out of battery in less than a day of use. They can also be quite noisy and disruptive, which can put people off using them when trying to sleep even if they feel hot.

Possible Solution

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The ideal method of cooling would involve a device that does not have to be held, and can provide discrete cooling at all times. This can be in the form of a wearable on one of the places of our body that produces the most heat.

One method of cooling is the Peltier effect, which absorbs heat when an electric current passes through a junction. If this could be small enough to be worn and also have enough power to run wirelessly for about a day, then it can prove to be an alternative cooling method. As it will have no moving parts, it will have a silent operation and be more efficient than a fan. It could also be useful when exercising and could even be built into smart watch bands and be powered by the watch. This device can also potentially be connected to the watch itself, via bluetooth, to set the temperature we want.

There are potential problems, such as the safety of passing an electrical current on or near the surface of the body, and the effects when in contact with water.

As always if you think you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

Problem 32 – Can’t have a Barbeque in a Flat

Problem

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People who live in flats are usually unable to enjoy a barbeque in their home due to the lack of open space available.

Possible Solution

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For most flats, the only exposure to open space is through the windows. Some people currently utilise this by, for example, drying their clothes. They do this by putting their clothes on a long metal pole or rack, and then hooking this out of their window. This is a surprisingly effective method for people in flats to dry their clothes outdoors, and has been used for decades.

A similar method could be utilised to provide barbeques to flat dwellers, although there are a lot more safety precautions that need to be accounted for. Giving a barbeque the ability to be hooked onto windows could mean that there is sufficient ventilation for the fumes and heat to escape. However there are still many problems with this solution, such as the prevention of fires around the barbeque, and also the prevention of hot items dropping onto the streets below. It will also have to be able to fit onto different types of windows and frames with sufficient strength.

As always if you think you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

Problem 31 – I Forgot to Take the Trash Out

Problem

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We can easily forget to take the trash out on a collection day or overfill our bins. Dealing with trash is also generally an unpleasant task anyway.

Possible Solution

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The bin can automatically close the bag inside and have it ready for us to take out. This can be done when it detects that the trash has reached a particular height of weight. It can also do it at a scheduled time – before a collection day for example. This can be set on our phone via an app.

The bin can automatically close the bag if bags with tie strings are used, as it would just need to pull the strings. It can then open its front and allow the filled bag to fall out. Spare bags can be stored in the lid, and it can replace them by blowing them open into the bin. We can then get notified on our phone when it has dispensed a filled bag.

As bins usually stay in one place, they can be plugged into an outlet to provide power. We would only be required to replace the bags and dispose of the dispensed bag, however it should prevent the problem of forgetting to take the trash out.

As always if you think you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

Problem 30 – Untidy Desk

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Problem

Many people struggle with the problem of having an untidy desk, which usually leads to lower productivity due to not being able to find things as quickly. It can also cause higher levels of stress due to the cluttered or unorganised environment.

Possible Solution

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Many people use dividers, racks and other desk tidies to try to organise their things. A problem with these is that they can also take up space and contribute to the untidiness.

I think having the desk itself change shape and form compartments for us to use however we want then it would create a more integrated solution. This could involve having the desk surface divided into several pieces which can move vertically to create distinct segments. These segments can also have shelving built into them that are revealed when it rises, and can then be lowered and hidden when not being used.

This solution can also create a more ergonomic desk if it includes surfaces that can tilt, rise and lower. The user can control every element of the desk on an app and because the desk will use electricity, it can also have a series of power sockets built in to make cable management easier. Perhaps it could even integrate a wireless charging surface.

If you think you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

Problem 29 – Carrying Heavy Luggage with Nowhere to Sit

Problem

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Queuing up to check-in at the airport is a common place where we can wait for a long time without being able to sit down. Quite often we are also carrying heavy luggage.

Possible Solution

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At the airport many people will be carrying suitcases with them. They are usually quite cumbersome, especially on crowded public transport. However if they can be converted to become a seat when required then it will give them another function instead of getting in the way.

This can be done by having the wheels further from the front of the suitcase to provide a wider and more stable base to sit on. The wheels will also have to be able to be locked to stop the suitcase moving when the user is sitting on it. The handle can be used as the backrest if it is wider and with more horizontal struts. The main suitcase body will also have to be reinforced to support the weight of a person. This will also give it more strength when in transit and protect its contents better.

As always, if you think you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

Problem 28 – No Time to Plan

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Problem

Sometimes, things happen quite spontaneously, or there might be things you forgot to consider. For example, you could suddenly decide to visit a friend one day and then realise you haven’t got anything to eat. You could then use the personal assistant on your phone to find places to eat, but it will only show you the places closest to you at that time and it won’t necessarily be places you like. A place you like might then be too far away and a compromise will have to be made.

Possible Solution

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I think that artificial personal assistants can get a lot smarter and that they are only just in their premature stage at the moment. One way I think they can get smarter is by getting the ability to plan your entire day ahead for you.

This can start by just asking the user what their plans for the day are after they wake up, perhaps when they’re having breakfast. Over time it can learn any potential patterns the user has, for example working 9 to 5 on weekdays or doing grocery shopping every Saturday.

It can then tell the user things like traffic information, weather and even possible places to eat or things to cook. In the evenings it can then recommend films or TV series to watch. If the user does something spontaneous, they can either tell the assistant or the assistant can detect that they are going to a specific location and then suggest places to eat along the way, or things to do when they get there.

Just telling the assistant that you plan to get to a specific location by a certain time can then allow it to calculate the exact leaving time to account for other activities such as eating. It can then help you build a schedule that fits comfortably around what you want to do while also allowing you to get what you need to do done.

Of course there is the issue with privacy if the device is constantly listening and sending the data to a server to analyse. Some people might also dislike the intrusiveness or dependence we will have on technology if it decides everything that we do.

As always, if you think you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.