Sometimes Great Ideas Aren’t As Great As They Sound


Do you ever have great ideas? The kind that make you sit up in bed and say “Of course! That’s genius!”? The ones where you immediately reach for a pen and paper because you have to commit this pure gold to the page, lest you forget it? We all do, from time to time. Inventors devote their lives to little tricks that save time for the consumer. That is, generally, what makes a good invention – time and effort savings.

Of course, if every 3am idea was the pure gold that we like to think it is at the time, a lot of us would be much richer. It’s usually when we start fleshing the idea out that we think “Oh, wait … but there’s …”. And then the whole idea falls apart. We may look for a way to overcome the issues, and sometimes even come up with something. But often, there’s no picking it back up.

The truth is, even some of the things that have made it to market, and have made people a lot of money, are not as great as they are cracked up to be. When it comes to time saving, space saving, and life enhancement, some inventions don’t hit the mark.



It’s wonderful, isn’t it, to be woken up not by an alarm, but by a coffee maker filtering your morning Joe? The aroma of the coffee percolates through the house, you stumble to the kitchen, pour yourself a cup of ambition.

Except… They really don’t save that much time. Last thing at night, you need to fill them with water and spoon in the coffee. Once the coffee is made, you have to wash the component parts. You have to buy filters. If spare time is what you’re after, you’d be quicker with good instant coffee, really.

Speech Recognition Software


Public Domain Pictures

The more widespread use of voice recognition becomes, the more people have anecdotes about it. The idea is sound. Not all of us are great typists, so writing documents can be easier by speaking what we want to type. Or we can be on the phone to a call center and be asked by a recorded message to give some details. And then we discover the limitations of voice recognition.

“Tell us in a few words how we can help you today!”

“I’d like to make a payment.”

“I heard ‘I’d like to apply for a credit card.’ Is that correct?”


“Transferring you now. Thank you!”

Maybe one day, voice recognition software will be efficient. Some speech-to-text programs are well regarded by users. But, in the main, the time and the work they “save” is then lost in having to correct them again, and again, and again.

Because sci-fi movies have suggested this would be part of “the future”, we expect it to work. Companies that use it persist with it because they believe it will be more convenient and they’ve invested a lot in it. But at the moment, the reality is simply frustrating.

Blackout Curtains



While you may have heard a lot said about the previous issues, chances are you haven’t read an article on the problem with blackout curtains. The whole “blackout” idea is a sound one. We can all benefit from blocking out some of the light that comes through our windows. It allows us to get cleaner sleep, and wake up more refreshed. For night shift workers, it is an absolute sanity-saver.

The thing is that it really depends on what you buy. A good blackout blind is a sound investment. Blackout curtains, for their part, hang loosely from the window and allow some light in around the bottom. And while some people might argue that “it’s only a little bit of light”, that’s enough. Just as a shark can smell a few drops of blood in an ocean, any one of us can immediately tell when there is a small amount of light in an otherwise dark room.

The new inventions that appear every once in a while to make our lives easier and more convenient all have something in common. When they first appear, the excitement covers up for a lot of operational issues. Then we become dissatisfied that they don’t work. Then people work on the issues that make them inefficient – and eventually we have something that really works.

So maybe when you have an idea for an invention that seems like it will make life easier, next time sit with it for a few days. Think of all the things that could go wrong with it. Maybe, with a few changes, it will work just fine.


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