In order to get feedback on my ideas, I created a survey and some basic questions to send out online.
For each product I asked the following questions:
What are your feelings toward this product? (very unfavorable - very favorable)
The likelihood of me using this product is (very unlikely - very likely)
The likelihood of someone I know using this product is (very unlikely - very likely)
The likelihood me owning a product like this is (very unlikely - very likely)
Would you buy this product? (yes/no)
How much would you expect to pay for this product?
How much would you be willing to pay for this product?
Is there any other feedback about this product that you'd like to share?
To be honest, my results were a bit less positive than I had hoped. Some products that people had a pretty favorable view did not have a high "I would buy this" percentage. One of my friends noted, though, that because it was necessary to scroll to the right to see the more favorable options when taking the survey on a mobile device, some of my results might be a bit skewed.
Here's a link to my survey if you'd like to check it out! https://umn.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_4MGVCKi7hru19UV
Based on my survey, the ideas I've decided to pursue are:
People would pay between 10 and 20 dollars for it. They thought that a different color was necessary and didn't like the idea of squeezing the slush out with their hands. With that in mind, I think it would be a wise idea to make the "grass" look and feel more like carpet. After doing a bit of research, it seems as though sponges are washing machine safe, so perhaps this product could be machine washable. The only setback there would be the plastic bottom.
People were willing to pay between 10 and 15 dollars for these. They felt that they seemed cheap and were possibly going to be a hassle to put in the car. I think that if these could be made cheaply and were disposable after they started to get dirty, people might view them more favorably.
People expected it to be around 50 dollars but were only willing to pay about 30 dollars. They didn't have much other feedback in the survey, but when I talked to a few people face-to-face, they recommended attaching it to the inside of the windshield so it didn't get wet and couldn't be stolen.
Most thought it would be around 25-35 dollars, but many were only willing to pay 10-15. They were generally very in favor of this idea, and the only feedback was that an attachable handle might be nice.
People were generally really excited about this one. They were also willing to pay more for it than most of the other products. The average price that people were willing to pay was $40. The range was $20 - 60.
There's something inherently a little tacky about putting astroturf on or in your car. Changing the color tends to help a bit. Most of these models are focused on catching dirt rather than liquid. Some of the more absorbent related products I found were not, in fact, car mats but bath mats or golf mats.
There was one similar patent, however, this did not include the absorbency component that I intent to address with mine. It also had a different shaped "grass" than I had planned on.
Since my intention for this product was for it to be sort of disposable, I looked at the range of mats from the disposable paper mats used by auto repair shops to some pretty heavy duty rubber mats. I also looked into the range of products from those that stay put and those that will slip around easily.
The most similar idea that I found as a patent was an anti-creep spray for rugs which prevents them from slipping around.
Remote Start Windshield Mat
For this I looked at the ease with which you could put these products on your car and the amount of coverage it gave your car. I think that my product could fit well in the easy to put on + medium coverage area.
I did find a patent that is fairly similar to this idea. The patent is for a remote start, stand alone windshield defroster. It would be interesting to see if covering the area and heating it would work better.
For this product I looked to see if there was anything in the market that was both inconspicuous and easy to access. There were a surprising number of places to keep emergency shovels, but all were either attached to the outside of your vehicle or took up space within the vehicle.
The closest patent that I could find to this idea was a multi-purpose emergency shovel tool.
Windshield Film - Preventing Frost
Some of the products I looked at for this category were a bit of a stretch. I looked at ease of application and visibility. Therefore, the windshield covers had no visibility and some of the other films appeared to have so many bubbles and creases when applied that they had limited visibility as well.
I found two patents that were actually fairly similar to the product I was proposing, however, I was not able to find places to actually buy a product that was for this specific function online.
The most difficult component of the grass-like mat would be finding a sponge material that both captured the water and dried out within a reasonable time. People hated the idea of squeezing it out with their hands. Keeping costs low would also be important, since people only wanted to spend between 10-20 dollars on it. Since a current mat made of astroturf sells retail for $10, we could estimate that the rough manufacturing cost for that is about $2. Combine this with a spongey layer which, based on retail data for sponges, is probably around a dollar for manufacturing costs. With this very rough estimate, the manufacturing costs for this product would be approximately $3.
The most difficult part of the floor stickers would be keeping the costs low. A regular paper disposable floor mat is $0.50. To add stickiness to one side and a bit more absorbency on top, I estimated the cost to be around $0.40.
The most difficult parts about the heated mat would be getting it to stick to the inside of the windshield and actually heating it up. The cigarette lighter in cars has 120 watts and it takes 100 watts to power a power drill or light a light bulb. While it might be possible to power the defrosting mat partially with this power, fear of draining the car battery might make assistance from solar power would be a good option.
A typical flexible plastic floor mat is between 50 and 70 dollars. If we assume that the cost to manufacture is around 6 dollars and add 2 dollars to have the metal inside, we come to a total rough manufacturing cost of about $8
The most challenging part of this product would be developing a film that was transparent enough to see through and had the frost resistant properties. Based on my patent search, it seems like some form of the technology might have actually already been created.