Ideas

This page is ded­i­cat­ed to present some ideas which come to my mind. This can be every­thing, even bad ideas…

Food relat­ed ideas

  • Auto­mat­ic food recipes trans­la­tion, inter­na­tion­al web­site: When my wife search­es for a recipe she looks at a French web­site, as this is her moth­er lan­guage. And a French web­site most­ly has recipes which are com­mon in French. I do not expect that some­one can find a typ­i­cal recipe from Thai­land there. The wife of a friend is Thai, and she cooks very deli­cious Thai meals. The ingre­di­ents are sim­i­lar to stuff we can find here, pork meat and spices and so on, but you have to search around to find such recipes on a Ger­man or French or what­ev­er food recipes site. Maybe you are even unlucky and can not find a recipe in a lan­guage you under­stand. So my idea is sim­ple. Instead of writ­ing down the recipes as text on a web­site, an inter­na­tion­al web­site with the food recipes of the world could work with objects and pro­ce­dures. If there is no object (ingre­di­ent), cre­ate one and the cre­ator can pro­vide the trans­la­tion at least for those lan­guages he knows the trans­la­tion for (or only for his moth­er lan­guage). Peo­ple which want to trans­late stuff should get a way to ask for untrans­lat­ed objects in lan­guage X in the web­site inter­face. For the pro­ce­dures it is also easy. If there is no pro­ce­dure for what you want to do, cre­ate a new one and write the text in your lan­guage. Pro­ce­dures can have mul­ti­ple inputs and out­puts. Ide­al­ly a pro­ce­dure is bro­ken down into the small­est com­po­nents (“mix A and B, result C”, “use object D on C, result 5*E”). A pro­ce­dure can be split into syn­tax (input type, num­ber of items per input type, input unit, oper­a­tion, result), and seman­tic (the words used to describe the pro­ce­dure). An exam­ple would be “Take %%ITEM1_NUM1%%%ITEM1_UNIT%% %%ITEM1_TYPE%% and put them into %%ITEM2_NUM%%ITEM2_UNIT%% %%ITEM2_TYPE%%. This is now %%RESULT1_NUM%%%%RESULT1_UNIT%% %%RESULT1_TYPE%%.”. With 3 Eggs and 1 bowl as input this would be “Take 3 Eggs and put them into the bowl. This is now the bowl with eggs.” (the soft­ware is respon­si­ble to pick the cor­rect trans­la­tion of type depend­ing on the num­ber). Anoth­er pro­ce­dure could be to scram­ble what is in “bowl with eggs”. Yes, in case of type “bowl with eggs” this can cre­ate a lot of trans­la­tion effort need­ed because of the huge pos­si­bil­i­ties what is inside, but maybe a “bowl with ingre­di­ents (step X)” is user­friend­ly enough. Cre­at­ing such a recipe is more work than just writ­ing down in your moth­er lan­guage what needs to be done. The ben­e­fit is on the con­sumer side. Peo­ple look­ing up a recipe could chose from a huge num­ber of world­wide recipes (if this ser­vice would get enough con­tent pro­duc­ers and trans­la­tors), and the pro­ce­dures could even have links of detailed descrip­tions how to do some­thing, or links to videos/animations/pictures show­ing how to do a pro­ce­dure. For cul­tures where are spe­cif­ic ingre­di­ent is not allowed for reli­gious or what­ev­er rea­sons, there could be an opt-in for such ingre­di­ents (detec­tion based upon brows­er lan­guage and/or geo­graph­i­cal region).
  • No-name prod­ucts track­ing: Write an appli­ca­tion for mobile phones (if pos­si­ble even for sim­ple ones which come only with Java, e.g. via inter­nal DB lock­up instead of online-lookup, not only for Android/iPhone) which scans the prod­uct bar­code, the date (of last con­sump­tion or man­u­fac­tur­ing date or what­ev­er), and the num­ber of the man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­ny (at least manda­to­ry in the EU for meat, fish, milk, eggs and sim­i­lar) and return the name(s) of sim­i­lar no-name or even brand­ed prod­ucts. With the num­ber of the man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­ny you can see which brand could be the pro­duc­er of the prod­uct. While this does not mean it is the same (ingre­di­ents and/or qual­i­ty), so does it give a hint what to buy or to avoid for what­ev­er rea­sons. With the prod­uct bar­code and the date you could get the prod­uct his­to­ry (when the pro­duc­er changes). With user sup­plied input to the main data­base the match can be improved (e.g. “tastes the same as the brand­ed one”). It also allows to find cheap­er alter­na­tives to brand­ed prod­ucts, or to see if some­thing sim­i­lar is also avail­able at anoth­er place. Addi­tion­al user sup­plied input (or maybe even offi­cial input from com­pa­nies) could be the (region­al) price. This would allow to find the cheap­est price for this kind of prod­uct.

Alter­na­tive ener­gy relat­ed ideas

  • Non-optimal weath­er opti­mized pho­to­volta­ic solar cells: Could the aver­age pow­er gen­er­a­tion of a pho­to­volta­ic solar cell in non-full-sunlight con­di­tions be improved by using a fres­nel lens (the Wikipedia arti­cle sug­gests that it can be used there, but so far I have not seen any use of it on small (pri­vate house­hold) instal­la­tions)? What impact would this have on the peak pow­er gen­er­a­tion? The same ques­tions for ther­mal solar cells. UPDATE 2010-03-16: I found a com­pa­ny which seems to be doing this. They use a heat-exchanger to move the addi­tion­al heat as dis­cussed in the com­ments here to a water pipe to gen­er­ate hot water (a com­bi­na­tion of a pho­to­volta­ic and a ther­mal solar cell). They use the lens and some mir­rors to reduce the amount of solar cells (and thus the cost). Unfor­tu­nate­ly they do not com­pare the out­put of the pho­to­volta­ic part with a nor­mal solar cell (the same sur­face area but no lens), they only com­pare the com­bined out­put pow­er of the pho­to­volta­ic and ther­mal parts with a nor­mal pho­to­volta­ic pan­el (so they com­pare apples with oranges and show a huge dif­fer­ence in this unfair com­par­i­son).
  • Lotus flower effect for solar (photovoltaic/thermal) cells: If the glass of a solar cell would be mod­i­fied to show a clean­ing effect of the lotus flower, would this reduce the amount of main­te­nance? If yes, is this sig­nif­i­cant? Would this effect cause a change in the effi­cien­cy of the cell? If yes, how much?
  • Using com­pressed air to auto­mat­i­cal­ly remove snow from solar cells: Is there an ener­gy effi­cient way to auto­mat­i­cal­ly clean e.g. snow with com­pressed air from solar pan­els when the time of the day sug­gests that there could be sun but a light sen­sor does not detect more light than dur­ing the night (this “the pan­els are cov­ered by some­thing” detec­tion does not take into account that pan­els can be par­tial­ly cov­ered, and maybe this/it could be improved by tak­ing the pow­er out­put of the pan­els into account too)? The pow­er con­sump­tion of the light sen­sor and the con­trol elec­tron­ics need to be tak­en into account. Is this a sig­nif­i­cant improve­ment (with a pos­i­tive return of invest­ment)?
  • Gen­er­at­ing elec­tric­i­ty with heat: Ther­mal solar cells gen­er­ate more heat pow­er than sim­i­lar sized pho­to­volta­ic cells pro­duce elec­tric pow­er. How effi­cient would it be to use ther­mal solar cells to dri­ve e.g. a stir­ling engine to gen­er­ate elec­tric­i­ty in a nor­mal house­hold (I have only found big instal­la­tions, but no instal­la­tion for a nor­mal house­hold)? To cool down the rel­e­vant part of this set­up, the exces­sive heat could be used to heat the house or the water for domes­tic use.

Car relat­ed ideas

  • Constant-power cruise con­trol: Now with more and more elec­tric cars being announced, this would allow to cre­ate a cruise con­trol which can be switched from con­stant speed to con­stant pow­er. The con­stant speed mode is like we all know how a cruise con­trol oper­ates (designed to bet­ter cal­cu­late the arrival time… in the best case), the con­stant pow­er mode would have a vary­ing speed, but would try to have a con­stant pow­er out­put per distance-unit (designed to bet­ter cal­cu­late the trav­el dis­tance the pow­er source is able to han­dle).
  • Per­son­al GPS track­ing: It would be nice if the GPS devices in cars would grow a track­ing fea­ture which records where I was, how was I drove, and at which time I was there, and at which day of the week (opt-in for each time, off course). With this it would be pos­si­ble to see for exam­ple if it mat­ters if I dri­ve 20 speed units faster on a spe­cif­ic way at a spe­cif­ic time or not (not direct­ly, you would have to dri­ve often the same way to get some sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant answer). It would also allow to gain bet­ter insight into which way to take at which time of day to get from e.g. work to home.
Send to Kin­dle

2 thoughts on “Ideas”

  1. Using a fres­nel lens to focus a larg­er quan­ti­ty of light onto a small­er area is good, how­ev­er keep in mind that cur­rent pho­to­volta­ic solar cells are 10 – 20% effi­cient only. The idea is good, but there is more to it than sim­ply aim­ing a fres­nel lens at it, since dur­ing peak times you prob­a­bly do not want the fres­nel lens focus­ing that ener­gy down on to the small­er area (it will prob­a­bly make the solar cell less effi­cient dur­ing those peak times).
    I am glad to see you think­ing about alter­na­tive ener­gy!

  2. Thanks for the info. Some inter­est­ing info would now be, if the aver­age pow­er gen­er­a­tion (pho­to­volta­ic) is high­er or not then (maybe with some addi­tion­al (non-electrical) cool­ing improve­ments), and how much a fres­nel lens can cost from an eco­nom­ic point of view. But this high­ly depends on the instal­la­tion envi­ron­ment.

    Regard­ing alter­na­tive pow­er gen­er­a­tion… I even have some links to DIY ther­mal col­lec­tors which look inter­est­ing, but with­out heavy changes in my house first (adding just the tubes from the heat­ing room to the roof means that I have to ren­o­vate the bath as I have to destroy a good part of it), I can not explore this inter­est­ing field.

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