Brilliant Idea #352. Crowd Count Drone

We’ve seen this plenty of times before, but never so brilliantly as after the Inauguration of the man-baby fascist, Donald Trump who claimed, despite these photos which seem to show the contrary, that the largest gathering of human beings ever amassed came out to see him take the oath (can known liars take oaths….I digress).

Brilliant Idea #352 is a drone that knows how to count crowds.

Now to be fair, the problem with the image above is that although we know it was taken at the same time, we don’t know whether it was the time of maximum occupancy. Although Trump loves to play the victim of press bias, in all probability, the press are biased towards him because he such a massive, nasty, stupid, dangerous dick, we don’t know whether the photo is a fact or one of the Trump’s Alt-facts.

The same happens with protests. The protesters estimate the size of the crowd and the protested party does the same….and generally estimates far fewer. If the protest is one the move it must be difficult to do accurately.

The drone counts people in real-time (or as near to real-time as it can as it flies over the crowd) so there is no doubt that double-counting happens. It’ll have a camera and some software that looks for density and estimates the number of people.

Brilliant Idea #351. The How2 bot

I used to work in the process business. If you read Brilliant Idea #345 you’ll know that.

Large corporations spend a huge amount of money documenting and managing their businesses process for two reasons; because they have to for compliance reasons and so their staff know how to do ‘stuff’. 

There is a flaw. Most people, given a choice of finding the process diagram and interrogating it so they understand how to do the process OR simply asking someone, ask someone. I always used to talk about Bob – Bob’s been there for donkeys’ years and seems to know everything. He’s the first person you ask when you need to know something.

Brilliant Idea #351 is a robotic Bob – it knows how everything is done by looking into the process repository and reading the business processes. Rather than talking to Bob, you chat to the Bob-bot on Skype or Messenger or Slack – whatever the messaging tool is that you use at work.

I’ve built a prototype. Follow this link and ask it how to add a customer to the system. I’d love to know what you think.



Brilliant Idea #345. Disrupting the Process Diagram

making a cup of tea process map

















I know, from a previous role, a reasonable amount about process mapping and process mapping tools.

One of the ways we used to teach the basics of process was to ask people to think about making a cup of tea. Of course anyone can describe this and write it down, but when you start to actually talk about it very quickly you realise that there’s loads of room for variation and it’s all too easy to miss steps out and there’s certainly some ambiguity about the order of which steps are done or the level of detail required.

We would then start to map out the process to prove that the specific language and syntax of a process – boxes containing a verb and a noun, a resource (who and what does it) and inputs and outputs was a much better, faster and more accurate way of recording and communicating how stuff gets done than written text just as is in the image above.

Now, process mapping isn’t a ubiqutous activity – not everyone exploits the discipline and syntax but it’s still a sizeable marketplace. Microsoft makes it easy to use Powerpoint for process diagrams and they have their Visio tool and there are a host of 3rd party software vendors out there.

Brilliant Idea #345 is to disrupt the process diagram (and therefore the process mapping tools out there).

If I go back to the ‘making a cup of tea’ process, mapping it is better, faster and more accurate than using plain language…but making a video is even better still. When process mapping was invented in the 50’s this capability wasn’t readily available, but we all have a video recorder and editor on our mobile phones. Services like Instagram and Vine make it incredibly easy and simple to make a video without any special knowledge. As well as it being easier to create, compared to a process which does need some knowledge of the syntax in order for it to be understood, everyone can understand images and video.

So what is it? It’s a mobile phone app that allows anyone to record a video describing how something works but it also allows the creator to add annotations and even the workflow to send it to someone to ask them to confirm whether they understand and agree to follow the process.


Brilliant Idea #353. Wifi that helps you learn

We can’t live without wifi, can we.

Our kids can’t live without wifi.

What wouldn’t we do for a wifi connection?

Learn a language? Revise for an exam? Learn a speech?

That’s it, Brilliant Idea #353 is a piece of software that locks wifi to just one program – a quiz that forces you to complete tasks before it connects you to the internet – answer multiple choice questions, speak in French, solve a puzzle, answer questions for your driving theory test – anything.


Brilliant Idea #350. Facebook check-in bot

facebook checkinIf you are on facebook the chances are that you have a friend or friends that ‘check-in’ when they get to a pub or restaurant just to let everyone know what a great social life they have.

Brilliant Idea #350 is for us sados that don’t have as interesting a social life (or, frankly in my case, can’t stay up late enough to have an exciting social life). You can pre-set an ‘enviable’ night out and it will automatically check you in on facebook.

So actually you’re at home enjoying a nice hot chocolate and it will check you in at the Skybar at the Shard in London, then at a Casino in Mayfair and then a nightclub in Chelsea at 1am.


Brilliant Idea #349. Rubber fence posts

I’m sitting working from home and seeing my garden fence being blown back and forth by the might of storm Imogen. Already I have two wooden fence posts that have snapped at the base that will need digging out and re-setting which is a nasty job.

Brilliant Idea #349 is to make fence posts from recycled plastic and rubber so they;

  • won’t rot
  • are more sustainable than concrete
  • bend in the wind so won’t snap


Brilliant Idea #348. The powercut torch

I bet you have a torch somewhere ready for a powercut. But are you 100% sure where it is and indeed whether the batteries are still usable?

Brilliant Idea #348 is a torch that you plug-in to the mains so it’s constantly charged, but here’s the clever bit, it turns on when the power is off.

It’s small enough that you can leave it plugged in behind the TV in your living area, the kitchen or landing at the top of the stairs.



How do you get a retail experience from a vending machine?

Costa-Express-launches-Marlow-self-serve-coffeeI bought a Costa Coffee from a vending machine in a newsagents.

When you start the process of ordering (by pressing buttons) it plays the noise of a coffee shop – the music in the background plus people talking and chinking cups and saucers.

I really couldn’t decide whether it was brilliant or awful.

But I love and admire the lateral thinking – “how can we match the experience of a Costa store to a Vending machine”?

Have you seen it? What do you think?