I started out with a stack of 40 ideas from the structured idea generation assignment (and a freak mutation from the sketch model activity). I wanted to cut that number in half quickly so I could spend a lot of time investigating a smaller number of promising ideas in more detail, and started this process by looking at marketability.
I used a double-elimination yes-or-no question to quickly narrow down which ideas to use. If I couldn't easily answer "yes" to at least one of the following criteria, the idea went in the discard pile.
1) Is it useful?
2) Is it fun?
I ended up discarding 11 ideas, but of the 29 I had left, there were some that were very similar, so I consolidated any concepts that achieved similar results by similar methods. This narrowed things down to 23 ideas.
The next step in narrowing down to 10 usable ideas to investigate in-depth was to do some first-order benchmarking to see if any products existed for the ideas I had to work with. I used Google to search 1-2 terms and checked the first page of results (web and images) for the "obvious" answers. I linked the closest result on the market and/or the most similar patent. Ideas are listed by the search terms I used for them, which will henceforth serve as their "names."
Feasibility was investigated by means of searching for patents related to my proposed solutions; relevant patents are linked where applicable.
01) Squirt Gun Laser Sight/Squirt Gun Flashlight
Product: Water gun toy with "glowing light and flash"
Patent: Laser sight for toy gun
Interesting: Fire extinguisher gun with laser sight
02) Sink Sprayer Gun Decals
The first result for this search was my own blog comment about the idea... and the closest additional results were an attachment to turn your sprayer into a brush, and a paint sprayer that looked kind of like a tattoo gun.
Product: Commercial spray gun
03) Spray Bottle Gun/Gun-Shaped Spray Bottle
In general, spray bottle tops are vaguely gun shaped (they have a trigger), but I was surprised to not find any kind of product that actually formed the sprayer into a realistic gun-shape. Water guns are obviously similar, and there are a ridiculous number of gun-shaped products (egg shapers, lighters, vodka bottles, digital cameras, bongs, and even shoehorns), but the closest product was a spray gun lighter that's closer in function than form to my idea.
Product: Spray gun lighter
Interesting: Matrix-inspired gun-shaped shoehorn
04) Cotton Candy Blender
This search returned a lot of questions about how to make cotton candy in a blender, a few single-function cotton candy makers, and the following two solutions to the concept:
Product (DIY): Cotton candy blender hack
Cotton Candy Blender Attachment
05) Sit n' Spin Pool
The idea is basically a kiddie pool with a sit-n-spin in the base, and I honestly expected that at least someone on the internet would have done (and documented) exactly that. No such luck. The closest I got to this product intersection was a reference to a defunct Portland laundromat that reportedly had pizza, movies, and board games. Quite an interesting idea in itself.
Interesting: Sit-n-Spin Laundromat: Urban Legend?, Brainwash Laundry Cafe
06) Sink Spinner
As it happens, a salad spinner is just this "sink spinner" but with an extra bowl around the outside to catch the water so you can use it on your countertop. Part of the idea was to extend the uses of the salad spinner, but it seems people are fine washing their alpaca wool in their salad spinners, and a separate product enables you to spin baby bottles (and probably Nalgenes and plastic tumblers) to dry them. This idea gets added to the scrap pile.
Product: Baby bottle spinner
Interesting: Washing wool in a salad spinner
07) Magnetic Utensil Caddies
This was another idea for which I didn't find the product intersections I expected. I found lots of magnetic knife racks and magnetic spice caddies for mounting to kitchen walls, and lots of countertop utensil caddies, but no magnetic utensil caddies for hanging on the fridge.
Products: Magnetic spice rack, Magnetic knife rack
08) Simple Drying Rack
Although it passed the usefulness test, this dish rack idea is so lacking in novelty that on the original sketch, I wrote "baking rack?"
09) Collapsible Clothes Rack
A little bit of sifting through myriad clothes drying racks on the spectrum of portable to stationary and collapsible to static unearthed a solution. Although it doesn't mount to the washing machine itself, it does the job specified in my idea in a similar enough way that I removed this concept from the stack.
Product: Folding Frame Clothesline
10) Drop Leaf Countertop
Google had an auto-fill entry for "drop leaf countertop," and the first image search result was this IKEA product that pretty much matches my idea perfectly, as well as other options that include drawers or are double-sided. Scratch this idea as well.
Product: IKEA Norbo
11) Slime Soap
The first couple of search results for "slime soap" were mostly DIY recipes (including some very cool soap slime with soap eyeballs), but eventually landed on a marketed product and added this idea to the scrap pile.
Product: LUSH Cosmetics Shower Jellies
12) Pop Rocks Soap/Gasified Soap
Not quite sure how to proceed in this case (doubting that there is a licensed Pop Rocks soap product on the market), I searched "pop rocks, soap" and got a lot of information about how pop rocks themselves are made, including their related patent for "Process of preparing gasified candy." Additional patents discuss how to make specific shapes of "gasified candy" rather than the irregular bits seen in Pop Rocks. Working from this point, I searched for "gasified soap" and discovered a few patents for soap extruded under gas pressure or, interestingly, containing gas particles that would produce a pop effect when in contact with water/moisture. I was not able to find any products fitting this description, but the existence of patents investigating or asserting the possibility make it seem like it ought to be feasible to either add pop-rocks type segments to a regular soap bar which would "pop" when the bar got wet, or to use a similar process as Pop Rocks to gasify a soap mixture into fizzy, pop-rocks like bits. In the Interesting category, I found an experiment that mentions observing the reaction of Pop Rocks and liquid soap. I haven't tried it yet, but I imagine it might have useful applications. This idea is a keeper if only because I'm now fascinated with the study of making fizzy soap.
Patents: Pop Rocks patent, Popping soap patent, Shaped gasified candy
Interesting: Pop Rocks experiment
13) iPod Dock Bathroom Caddy
This was another one of those product intersections where I started by combining the product names in a search to see what was out there. Unfortunately, an almost identical product exists - all it lacks is a toothbrush holder, but it makes up for it with a toilet paper roll holder. See the Interesting file for other odd bathroom products and ideas... which includes a toothpaste dispenser that might knock an additional idea into the discard pile.
Product: iCarta iPod Dock Bath Tissue Holder
Interesting: 10 coolest bathroom products, Quirky iPod dock ideation
14 + 22) 20 Second Soap Dispenser
I had a couple options for a 20-second soap dispenser (musical, marble maze) that helps kids (or scatterbrained adults) remember to wash their hands for the CDC-recommended 20 seconds, so I started by searching "20 second soap dispenser" to get an idea of what products/concepts existed and which directions might be the most fruitful. I ended up finding musical and ink dispensers or attachments for kids, and an LED-timer model for adults, but no marble-maze "mechanically timed" dispensers.
Products: Musical soap pump, Musical soap-pump topper, Squid Soap ink timer, and a grown-up version, Simplehuman soap pump with 20-second LED indicator.
Interesting: Bacteria-laden public soap dispensers, Uber-Marble Maze
16) Fluoridated or Ionized Water
This idea replaces toothpaste with fluoridated water to prevent tooth decay. Normal tap water is typically fluoridated on a large scale for this purpose, and some studies suggest that brushing with non-fluorine toothpaste is ineffective at preventing cavities. Brushing teeth with water (at normal or increased levels of fluoridation) or toothpaste substitutes (e.g. baking soda) could possibly reduce the need for toothpaste and related dispensers entirely. Other solutions for water additives or alterations to replace household consumables such as toothpaste and cleaning products include the use of electrolyzed water as a cleaning solution. Deployment as a product would likely involve user control of additives, including the option to use "plain" water for ordinary tasks like handwashing or cooking.
Background Information: Water fluoridation, Electrolyzed water
17) Disposable Toothpaste Cartridge/Pod
21) Toothpaste Syringe
There are a lot of products dealing with making the toothbrushing experience either more portable or more tidy. Solutions include portable toothbrushes, often pre-pregnated with a toothpaste coating, devices for rolling toothpaste tubes, pumps and dispensers either pre-filled with toothpaste or for use with a toothpaste tube, dispenser brushes, and single-use toothpaste or substitutes such as chewable tablets, trial-size tubes, small packets, and capsules (see products/patents list).
What stood out to me in this case was the lack of long-term solutions for individualized dosing that minimized mess. A bottle full of tiny toothpaste capsules is the closest solution, but requires the user to twist the plastic tail off of a miniscule tube before squeezing the paste onto their toothbrush much like a traditional tube. Tablets produce granular pieces which cannot be evenly distributed throughout the mouth. One of my solutions uses a hardware faucet attachment designed to hold single-use pods, which are dispensed using the water pressure of the sink being used, and as far as I have found, this particular approach has not been used. Another solution, a toothpaste syringe, is similar to hard-plastic toothpaste tubes sold by a limited number of manufacturers, but which (like stand-up pumps), are not popular because they make it hard to advance the toothpaste.
Products: PasteBuds toothpaste capsules, Toothpaste tablets, Toothpate packets, Wisp portable toothbrush, Toothpaste tube dispenser, Toothpaste pump
Patents: Toothpaste dispensing brush
My collection included a plethora of other toothpaste tubes and dispensers, and since I was able to identify 11 promising concepts thus far, I disregarded additional toothpaste concepts.
Further work on these concepts would involve more in-depth feasibility and marketability research. I have some marketability data in terms of retail prices a random selection of people decided they would pay for each product, gathered during two shifts of work at the computer lab where I pinned up the 11 "surviving" ideas and asked students who walked buy about a few ideas each. The paper I recorded this data on is likely in my stack of clipboard notes from last week and will be appended ASAP.
Further feasibility study involved sketch models, of which I made two at Leonardo's Basement: one for a combination toothpaste syringe and dispensing brush (which has a patent but no major applications according to my search of product ideas #17 ans #21), and a marble-maze soap dispenser which is intended to run for 20 seconds. I'll be posting pictures and other information (what questions they answer) in a separate post for clarity's sake.