Idea Sketchbook

I like to solve my life's little annoyances, at least theoretically. Sometimes I actually make them into products (I'm working on some new ones now), but the ideas below languish in my sketchbook graveyard. Many are non-digital products (remember I'm an Industrial Design grad) but hopefully they shed some light on how I think. Some are comically old, but still kinda fun.

Scooter concepts

I almost did some freelance work for a scooter startup, and these were a few quick preliminary ideas to solve the problems of rider safety, branding in a competitive market, and city bans due to people leaving scooters in the middle of sidewalks.

Scooter concepts

Peanut Butter Jar Lid with Integrated Knife

Pretty self-explanatory. This should really happen.

Sketch of Peanut Butter Jar Lid with Integrated Knife.

Smart Parking Meters

I sketched this up long ago, and I'm guessing it exists in some form now. It'd be pretty cool if the parking meter data could be pulled into Apple/Google Maps.

Sketch of a smart parking meter concept.

Collapsible Snowboard Poles

I'm a skier, but the one time I snowboarded, I thought of this to help snowboarders get through flats and lift lines.

Sketch of collapsible snowboard poles.

Child's Riding Toys

This was a fun 2-week project in Industrial Design school which ended in making a rough full-scale model of one design.

Child's riding toy sketches

"Sport Lead" Dog Leash

Our first dog (June) did some dog sports like frisbee and flyball, which means you're often taking your dog on and off the leash (and holding the leash when not using it). "There must be a better way!" I thought, so I designed a retractable collar-mounted leash.

Sketch of a collar-mounted retractable dog leash.

Hotel Alarm Clock

Remember how we used alarm clocks before iPhone alarms? And sometimes there'd be an AM/PM screw-up or low-volume error so we wouldn't wake up? It was even riskier using a hotel's unfamiliar alarm clock, so I wanted to design an incredibly intuitive version targeted toward hotels. Since this would be a pretty complex and costly product to manufacture, I never followed through with it, but I iterated a lot and was happy with a solution of using explicit (non multi-modal) buttons tied to explicit displays.

Alarm clock concepts

Baby Swaddle

When we had our first baby, the usual parenting struggles gave me quite a few ideas! Our first had colic (ie, cries all the time), and the "Happiest Baby on the Block" book taught us that swaddling Christopher should help. Problem was, babies wriggle out of a swaddled blanket, so I designed a simple velcro-based "Cool Swaddle" (basically a baby straight jacket), which worked great. Sadly, I never got the product to market, and eventually someone else did (it's on the stores at WalMart now)...sigh. It's one of my bigger regrets.

Baby swaddle sketch


My small post-pregnant wife struggled to lift the baby in and out of the crib, and drop-side cribs don't seem to work that well (and still require you to bend over), so I came up with this fairly simple push-pedal idea to easily raise the mattress.

Crib-lift sketch

Comfy Ski Boots

Some sketches from my senior Industrial Design project. Basically, the idea was to minimize the rigid shell (which is needed to transfer your weight where you want it on your ski) so it's only in the necessary areas, while the rest of the boot can be a soft comfortable pain-free liner.

Marker-rendered sketches of comfortable ski boot designs.

Easy-Ship, Easy-Assemble Modular Furniture

In my college and post-college days when I moved every year or so, I thought it'd be nice to have furniture that was very easy to disassemble, move or ship, and reassemble. It could also be modular to fit different spaces, with upholstery that removes easily for washing or replacing to change the look. Now, furniture-rental services are gaining popularity to fill the need, but I still like this concept. (But I have no idea what that shape is on the upper right.)

Modular furniture sketch

In-Garage Recycling Center

In Iowa City, we had to sort our curbside recycling, so I designed and built a simple station on our garage wall that made it all tidy and easy. And kudos to me for listing the Goals and Task List on the sketch. LOL.

Sketch of in-garage recycling center.

Comfy High Heels

A half-baked idea to make heels less painful. I have no idea how women wear them all day.

Sketch of comfortable high heels.

Realtor Survey Tool (pre-iPhone)

It's fun to look at pre-iPhone ideas! I don't think I can draw fingers that well anymore though, which saddens me.

Sketch of a tool for realtor's surveys.

Basketball Ref's Foul Tracker

Ever notice how basketball refs have to run to the scorer's table to signal who the foul was on? Why not just have a wristband-mounted tool where they can easily enter it?

Sketch of a tool for basketball referees.

Mouse with Tactile Output

I had this idea while I was in grad school for Biomechanics / Ergonomics. I don't think it's been done, which of course might mean it's a bad idea.

Sketch of a tactile mouse concept.

Car Hail Cover

This idea came to me when we lived in stormy Iowa with two cars and a one-car garage.

Sketch of a car hail cover.

Disposable Car Corner-Bumpers

When my wife and I visited Taiwan, I noticed that most cars had minor damage on their corner bumpers, so...

Sketch of disposable car bumpers.

Periscope Basement Windows

Need a window in a fully underground basement?

Sketch of periscope basement windows.

Portable Paperbook Reader

We have audiobooks now, but wouldn't it be nice to have paper books read to us?

Sketch of a book audio reader.