Half-Inventing Stuff

It’s beyond uncreative these days to see some sort of newish product and say, “I thought of that years ago! If only I would have [insert outlandish first step of an unresearched business model]…” So, I’m not here to say I thought of whatever items first (though I do stand by my prior invention of a number of words, though to be honest, I haven’t included some of them in reviews because I’m afraid that if I search for them in Google, I’ll see countless (now documented) examples of other people already using what I thought was my word). I’m here to say that I’ve half-invented some pretty wacky stuff. Of course “half-inventing” is sort of a synonym to “not inventing;” for example, I can say that I’ve been busy the last 12 years half-inventing masking tape that’s always easy to get off of the roll, but I could just as easily say that I’ve been devoting as much energy to not-inventing masking tape that doesn’t stick to itself and is easy to get off of the roll.

Way to go, Tiger

All that aside, I’ve spent the last seven years or so busy half-inventing an automobile accessory that until recently was nowhere to be found in any shape or form in any automobile accessorizer’s catalog. Last week, I came across a rather, well, interesting product for aftermarket car customizing: LEDs that go on your wheels (I guess they’re called “rims” by the target market), and as they spin, an image (still or motion) is seen as the lights flash on and off. There’s some computerized trickery, but the trick has been done before with gimmicky clocks for those with too much disposable income. Also, for the true ladykillers out there, you can even find a tutorial to make your bike wheels display messages with only one trip to Radio Shack and too much disposable free time.

All in all, it’s a pretty complicated concept in some regard, but dirt simple in others. But that wasn’t my idea.

See, I’ve never been a fan of the horn honk. Because so many of “those people” [aggressive drivers, etc.] use it obnoxiously for driving purposes or otherwise, you can’t honk to try to draw someone’s attention to their still-on turn signal or the temporary absent-mindedness that is usually responsible for time spent in the passing lane at or below the speed others want to go in the left lane. Likewise, how else are you supposed to get ladies’ attention. They say honking objectifies them, but what better conversation starter exists for that situation? There’s just none. And with the whole road rage thing, it’s best to avoid that personal contact. You might normally roll down the window to let the other guy know that he had indeed purchased his license from Pep Boys, but that’s a good opportunity for him to throw acid at you, and that’s just not healthy. There’s a wise saying, “The man who doesn’t get out of his car after a road rage incident doesn’t get his teeth knocked out with a tire iron.” Remember that.

So my half-invention is a voice-activated device that displays a message on the front bumper, windshield, door, rear window, or maybe rear bumper (like I said, I’ve only half-invented it, the details are still sketchy). The driver (or passenger) tells the device to start listening, then someone says something like, “They’re called turn signals for a reason.” Very shortly thereafter, that same message is scrolling across a surface on your car, potentially even displayed so that it looks correct in the mirror of the other person’s car if they’re in front of you.

Let’s take that “honking at honeys” example” with this half-invented device, you could skip the whole “objectifying” part and let your intentions be known, perhaps by having the device display something like this time-tested gem as you drive by a honey, “How ’bout a porch for that swing!” How “’bout a porch, indeed. You could even throw in your phone number for even more impact.

The whole half-invented part sort of throws a bone in the works in that I’ve not exactly definitively decided whether or not it’s a road-safe accessory, though I’m sure that the in-car DVD player market is only superficially concerned about mounting a screen intended for the driver so that they don’t get sued. The hands-free nature of the setting of the text takes most of the unsafe for the driver part out of the equation.

Believe it or not, I actually half-invented a related product line: if you’ve seen the first Batman movie, you’ll remember how as Batman sped Vickie Vale to the Batcave it looked like they were going to run into a solid rock wall, but no, it was just a hologram (or something like that). Wouldn’t that system do a much better job for one-way streets and closed roads? (Eh, that’s rhetorical, as the answer is an obvious “No.”) Instead of some old lady driving the wrong way down the street, she says, “Golly Gee, I don’t want to drive into that rock face. Now how about a porch for that swing?!” Ahh, half-inventions (and I didn’t even really think of that one).

One more automobile-related half-invention: this one was actually thought of by a 17 or 18 year old Dave Cadugan (I’ll be honest, I think these things might have been thought of by lots of people, but they decided it’d be in their best interest not to say anything out loud. Also, Dave was 17 or 18, so let’s not judge too harshly) Anyway, Dave’s invention. As you drive by an attractive girl who’s walking, he complained that he didn’t get a long enough time to look at them and once he had to check them out in his mirrors, they got too small to “see the good parts.” I guess his half-invention was best served for guys who are referred to as “insert body part here guys.” (as most know, I’m not a particular body part sort of guy, so I’m not sure if I’d get much out of his half-invention) Dave’s invention would be mirrors on cars automatically zoomed in on the “important” areas after you’d drive by. I’m not sure what the control method was, but let’s just assume it was somehow connected to the brain. Now for all of you offended girls out there, let’s remember that no girl is offended when a reasonable guy appreciates how they look, and Dave was 17 or so, so if any girls out there didn’t have any generally ludicrous ideas at that age, feel free to comment and judge accordingly.


Half-Inventing stuff receives four stars due to its being much easier than actually inventing things, and you’re not limited by such things as common sense. Of course, a “real” inventor would tell you that “�nothing should limit your ideas!’ and all of that nonsense, but of course real inventors have yet to make car mirrors that automatically zoom in on “the good parts” or scroll potentially obscene messages at other cars on the highway. And, as uncreative as it is, you can still claim that “they sort of stole my idea!”

2 Replies to “Half-Inventing Stuff”

  1. Well, shoot fire, you stole my unimplemented idea!

    The other day on the way home from work in my then-uninsured car, I was stuck in rush hour traffic with a honey on her cell phone behind me. Obviously the first thing to cross my mind was “I need a way to tell her to get off her phone, because distracted drivers can kill.” Offensive messages scrolled through my mind.

    Lacking that pinacle of car-to-car communication – the scrolling LCD screen – I instead held up my obviously-empty hand next to my ear and held it there for a while in mockery. Honeys don’t retaliate against clever buffoonery like that. Unfortunately, she didn’t notice my clever hand gesture, so I gave pause to the risk of my other car-to-car hand gesture being mistakenly received by a more aggressive-looking driver next to me, and continued driving.

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