Innovation@Whole Foods: Build Your Own Trail Mix

If you shop in the bulk department of Whole Foods you’ll find a wide variety of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and even candy. Because these different items have different prices one cannot mix and match to create their own custom trail mix. In order to build your own trail mix you have to bag and price each item separately then take it home and mix them together. This process isn’t exactly easy and convenient.

Perhaps Whole Foods could offer a build your own trail mix selection in their bulk department. Customers could decide what components they wanted in their trail mix, how much they wanted, and could pay for it by the pound. A build your own PLU could be created and items that were apart of the program could be labeled with both their individual PLU’s and the build your own PLU.

Here’s a list of some items that could be included in the program: Almonds, Banana Chips, Brazil Nuts, Cashews, Chocolate Chips, Cocoa Nibs, Coconut Flakes, Dried Cranberries, Goji Berries, Hazelnuts, Macadamia Nuts, M&M’s, Mulberries, Pecans, Pistachios, Pumpkin Seeds, Raisins, Sunflower Seeds, Walnuts.

Build Your Own Trail Mix

Innovation@App Makers: Find Your Doppelgänger App

Today I was reading an article in the Daily Mail about two women who became best friends all because of their near identical looks and their one in a million chance encounter. Reading that article gave me the idea for an app that would match strangers with their undiscovered doppelgänger, where ever that person may reside.

Now this idea isn’t exactly new nor is it original; but it also doesn’t exactly exist.

Doing research for this article I found a plethora of links promoting a dubious and suspicious Facebook app that purports to find your celebrity doppelgänger. I also found a few articles referencing another doppelgänger app that was created for the purpose of marketing Coke Zero. It’s unclear if the Coke Zero app was ever actually functional but in theory it would analyze a database of people’s images to find look-a-likes. This Coke Zero doppelgänger app does not appear to be available any longer.

I think people would be interested in locating strangers that looked similar to themselves. I believe people are curious to see who out there shares their appearance and where they live.

Innovation@Memoto:24 Hour Personal Audio Video Recorder

Memoto is a new company that is on the cusp of releasing a revolutionary and innovative new product that takes pictures of your entire active day. They appropriately call it lifelogging. I suspect this product will be very popular with consumers when it is finally released.

I think the next step in this kind of small wearable technology will be a device that records audio and video of your entire day. Not only would this give users more latitude in lifelogging but it would also serve the practical purpose of video recording unexpected and perhaps unwanted events. Russia is known for it’s dashboard cameras that protect drivers from liability in accidents. A wearable video camera that recorded your entire day could serve the same purpose. As they say, the video doesn’t lie.

The greatest foreseeable objection would be privacy concerns. Now I’m all for privacy in your home and your digital communications but when you’re out in public there is no expectation of privacy. As technology gets cheaper and smaller, cameras will continue to proliferate. Such a wearable camera is inevitable, the only question is who will be the first to bring it to market?


Innovation@Roboticists: Autonomous Gum Cleaning Robot

Sidewalk gum constitutes an eye sore common to virtually every city and town the world over. Cleaning gum is labor intensive, time consuming, monotonous, and menial. Aside from that, dispatching humans to clean gum off the streets and sidewalks of an entire city is unrealistic and infeasible. A fleet of autonomous robots could accomplish just that however.

I can envision these robots employing two strategies for cleaning gum off concrete and pavement. It’s primary cleaning mechanism could be located on it’s belly allowing it to drive on top of the gum and work it’s magic until the gum was completely removed. It could also utilize an arm that would enable it to reach any areas it was incapable of driving over. The Gumbot could be equipped with multiple cameras that would allow it’s activities and whereabouts to be remotely monitored.

This kind of innovative robot would likely be very appealing to municipalities and large public venues.

Innovation@Annonymous: Wikipedia Of Armed Bureaucrats And Government Spooks

Revelations of illegal government snooping and surveilling of innocent American citizens have sent shock-waves across the nation. The collecting and databasing of the American people’s digital communications and search history by the NSA is reminiscent of a 1984 Stasi-style police state and is an affront to a free and lawful society.

So how can peaceful law-abiding citizens help bring about accountability to a seemingly criminal government entity that acts outside of the law? Well why not do to the government what the government does to us? Why not create a public Wikipedia style database the collects as much information as possible on all government spooks, law enforcement officials, armed bureaucrats, politicians, and the various other decision making officials? They’ve seen fit to create massive databases that store as much information as possible on the American people, so I say if they want know everything about us we should know something about them. Being that they chose their own career paths and fancy themselves as “public servants,” I say it’s the right of the people who pay their salaries to know everything about them that we can legally gather. And if they don’t like it they can get a job in the private sector. I think that’s fair.
PS: If you’re reading this and want to create such a website I have a brilliant URL name I can suggest.

Innovation@Whole Foods: Stepping Stool Grocery Shelves

Space is at a premium in most grocery stores and because of this product is often stocked on the top shelf where it is out of reach of shorter customers. Often times you will see these short customers step onto the bottom grocery shelf to gain the extra height needed to grab those items situated on the top shelves. This is an inevitable and unavoidable reality of the grocery industry, but it isn’t exactly safe nor is it always easy for these customers to reach high up items.

What if there was a simple solution to this everyday problem? What if the bottoms of grocery shelves had a built-in step that allowed customers to get an extra step up reaching for that out of reach item? Perhaps hand bars could also be built-in to provide customers a safe grip while climbing on the bottom step. Stepping stool grocery shelves would be innovative, simple, practical, and useful for both customers and employees.
Stepping Stool Grocery Shelf

Innovation@Earth Circle Organics: Coconut Oil In A Tube

Coconut oil is the jack of all trades when it comes to personal care products. It can be used as a face moisturizer, hair conditioner, hair gel, body deodorant, can be applied to wounds, and much more. Bringing coconut oil with you when traveling is rather inconvenient. To my knowledge coconut is only sold in glass and plastic jars which make it a rather impractical body care product to take with on the road. How great would it be to have organic raw virgin coconut oil in a squeezable-tube? It would be easy, convenient, practical, and vastly more portable.

One of the biggest advantages with having coconut oil in a squeezable-tube would be it’s portability. Because coconut oil has a low melting point the greatest challenge with having coconut oil in a tube would be potential leaking problems. This issue would have to be resolved to make this product feasible. You couldn’t have coconut oil leaking in people’s suitcases onto their clothes property.

Innovation@Taxi Cab Services: Self Driving Taxi Cabs

Attention cab drivers, I have some bad news. Your days are numbered. In the not too distant future; automobiles, including cabs, will be driving themselves. Cabs will drive themselves, big rigs will drive themselves, street sweepers, buses, trains, you name it. The technology already exists, it’s only a matter of time before it comes to market. Automation is inevitable.

Cabs will likely be the first service cars to go driver-less. Passengers will get in the cab and input their destination into a touch screen monitor and the car will safely drive them there. The cab could even be ordered over the internet by said passengers and arrive on it’s own sans driver. Self-driving cabs will be safer, cheaper, less annoying, and won’t surreptitiously record your conversations. Call it driver-less taxis cabs or customer directed self-driving taxi cabs. Google was the first to pioneer and demonstrate this technology and already the big auto makers are well on their way to introducing self-driving cars to the market. Moore’s Law reigns supreme.

Innovation@Kevita: Caffeinated Energy Kombucha Drink

So the other day at work I was feeling exceptionally tired and wanted a sweet and healthy iced energy beverage instead of the usual hot coffee I drink for my caffeine fix. Being a fan of kombucha I looked through the selection of kombucha at Whole Foods searching for a caffeinated kombucha energy drink. As a health conscious individual I do not drink energy drinks nor do I drink out of cans. Now I know that kombucha has a low level of caffeine in it from the tea, but I was hoping for a jolt similar to that provided by an energy drink.

Kevita makes my favorite kombucha on the market and is sweetened with the healthy sweetener Stevia. In doing my research for this blog post I found one product on the market that is similar to what I’m suggesting. Celestial Seasonings makes Kombucha Energy Shots that come in three flavors. What I had in mind and what I would prefer however, is a full sized 16 ounce caffeinated kombucha energy drink that satisfies my quench, my need for energy, my taste-buds, and my desire for a healthy alternative to Red Bull.

Innovation@Coconut Secret: Flavored And Sweetened Coconut Oil

Coconut Secret makes some of the best if not the best coconut products on the market today. They are leaders in the health food industry selling consumers healthy snacks sweetened with low glycemic sweeteners, coconut nectar and coconut sugar. Coconut Secret products can be found in Whole Foods and other natural food retailers throughout California.

Something that does not exist and that I would like to purchase myself would be raw flavored and sweetened coconut oil. Eating raw coconut oil is extremely beneficial to one’s health and is even publicly praised by super model Miranda Kerr. For a lot of people however, the taste of coconut oil is not very palatable. Flavored and sweetened coconut oil could make coconut oil appealing for a wider health conscious market. This coconut oil could be sweetened with coconut nectar. Key to keeping this raw flavored and sweetened coconut oil the healthiest coconut oil supplement on the market would be the use of BPA-free packaging.