Some time back in the dark ages, which might have been the early 1970s, my father invented the first ever GPS system.
He was living in rural Queensland and had to drive into Brisbane occasionally; he hated having to dodge the traffic and remember which streets went where, so he came up with an invention to ease the pain of the commute.
He recorded himself on tape giving himself spoken directions. Turn left at such-and-such a street, turn right at the big building with the whatsitsface on it. Take the third street on the right after the police station. That sort of jazz.
Then he’d put the tape into the tape player in his Holden HQ Kingswood (yeah, that’s how my dad rolled) and he’d play it as he drove, pausing it after each spoken direction.
He’d managed to think laterally to solve a problem of inconvenience, a #firstworldproblem before we knew what those even really were.
I was down in our photo studio yesterday and was tickled to discover one of our photographers has bolted a spade handle to a ladder, so he’s got something to grab on to when he’s teetering up high. The actual spade part is gone and he’s even cut a small semi-circle out of the ladder deck to accommodate it. Genius.
Then our very own Mike Hutcheson told us of his grandkids’ invention: scooter soccer. They wanted to play soccer but it was all concrete, no grass, so they decided to play on scooters – making the game faster (and more exciting) than ever.
Here at Idealog HQ, we’re a media partner for the NZ Innovators Awards (entries are open now – click here for more). Maybe you’re cooking up something in the workplace you want to enter – or maybe you’re doing your own backyard innovation. And if so, we want to hear about it. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @idealogmag with details and pics of your own backyard innovation.
At the end of August, we’ll name New Zealand’s Backyard Innovator of the Year and feature you online, and give you a one-year subscription to Idealog magazine to celebrate your smarts.