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Bright ideas from our readers

What has been the most significant invention or discovery of the past 50 years?  VOTE NOW
Young designers create super computer for drugs industry
A shirt that detects if the wearer falls could make life easier for the elderly
A German brewmaster comes up with a novel way to make beer
A hands-free mouse could help disabled computer users
• Read more Next Generation stories
CNN asked leading figures to describe the inventions and discoveries that have changed their lives. 
Richard Branson: "I love the freedom that my phone gives me."
Kelly Holmes:  "Without planes I wouldn't be able to do what I do."
Renzo Rosso: "E-mail has become a tool I can't do without."
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Find out how technology, science and invention are shaping your world with Explorers

Dear Explorers. Thank you to everyone who has sent in their ideas. We have been inundated with great innovations.

Keep the ideas coming. We will continue to publish the best ones. Send your bright technology ideas to Explorers. Here are some of the latest e-mails we have received.

Visionary thinking

1. Special computer glasses that reduce irritation in eyes due to working on a computer. One of the problems with being on the computer for a long time is dry, irritating eyes. Some times even a headache. I guess eye drops and pain relievers would suffice, but it would be cool to put on these miracle glasses to prevent the strain on your eyes.

2. A mouse for a computer that does not require a flat surface to use. Something you grip in your hand (in a fist). Your thumb activates a rolling ball on top, which moves the cursor on your screen. Your index and middle fingers press the left and right click's, kinda like a trigger on a gun. Press down on the rolling ball to activate scroll, and have a smaller separate ball on the side to scroll. I am so tired of holding my hand on that ridiculous mouse pad. I wish I could have my hand in a comfortable, natural position. Like at my side or in my lap. Oh yeah, and it's wireless!
Seth H

One-track mind

Monorails above city streets every mile going different directions, like a grid and at every crisscross we would put in a station that a commuter could transfer from one direction to another. This would mean that the furthest walk would be 0.7071 miles to a station. The monorail would not automatically stop at a station unless a commuter inside the rail car or in a station pulled a wire or pushed a button to make the request.

In this plan there would be (y lines) north to south and (x lines) east to west that would be going there respective direction from one end of the city then wrapping around. A commuter could switch from the x line to y line and visa versa to change directions. Above all of this there could be an Express angle rail that wouldn't make any stops from one corner to the other.

We would make the rail cars appealing to look at and make the monorail decorative and as small as possible with flower baskets and shrubbery hanging from the bottom.

These monorails would be electric therefore more environmentally friendly than a bus, more timely and more efficient.
Patrick O'Brill, Berkeley, IL

RFID at the gates

I could see RFID being imbedded into tickets for sporting events or concerts and the like to automatically read tickets and allow the person with the appropriate ticket into the event, calculate attendance, reduce facility staff (ticket-takers), and even through centrally located ticket readers, direct you to the proper gate/entrance for your seat, and potentially reduce ticketing fraud.
Theron Melrose, IL

Harpoon heroes

Lifeguard stations should be equipped with a harpoon-type gun that can be used to shoot a wide, circular raft (about 20 feet in diameter) beyond someone who's drowning. The raft would inflate on impact and could be pulled back in towards the victim using an electric reel attached to the harpoon gun. Since there are now life preservers that have holes capable of closing around any limb stuck in them this raft could have holes all along the rim to secure any limbs stuck in them. This would also let a second swimmer be rescued at the same time -- perhaps someone who'd tried to rescue the first victim and wound up in trouble themselves.
John Rockwell, Palm Harbor, FL

Breath of fresh air

Considering the amount of air pollution in many major cities of U.S. I propose to develop something called " Oxygen in Can" (OIC). I am sure many asthma and allergy patients would feel better with a good shot of oxygen. The can will look like a regular can and will release user specified amounts of oxygen content. The cans can be refilled for continuous use.
Dr. Ramesh Teegavarapu, KT

Brain chemistry

In the future we will have mapped out the brain and understood its functions so well that patients suffering from mental illnesses, or others in need of rejuvenation, will have available to them non-invasive treatment that "re-calibrates" certain areas of their brain to bring them within healthy parameters. There could be a single, or series of treatments, probably audio-visual in nature, that leave a patient with a lasting sense of well-being, free from the ravages of depression etc., until another mis-alignment takes place.
Don Farrell, PA

Parcel protection

What about fitting breakable parcels with a digitalized shock sensor, which could record the time and date of any impact that exceeds a reasonable threshold? If a package gets damaged in the post, it would give the customer evidence as to when the damage most likely took place and who was responsible.
Przemek Stasica, Poland

Wired for sound

Wireless earphones (for DVD and MP3 players or walkmans) would make life easier when you are listening to music while on the move.
Jorge E. González D, Mexico

Beat the heat

My idea, inspired by the 2003 heat wave in Paris, is a simple, inexpensive, energy efficient device to enhance a fan's cooling effect, whereby a two-sided metal rack sits in front of an electric fan. Each metal rack would hold a reusable plastic ice pack. A tray running along the bottom would collect condensation. The breeze created by the fan would channel through the ice packs, thus creating cooler air. Fans could run at lower levels but still produce the same effect, a bit like placing a bowl of ice in front of a fan, but it would be less messy and more effective.
Wendy Bourke, Vancouver, British Columbia

Green lane

There should be an extra lane on all major highways that are only for two and three-wheeled vehicles, such as motorcycles and mopeds. In these lanes, the speed limit would be slightly higher than for other vehicles. This would reward people to used fuel-efficient vehicles and vehicles that push emerging industries -- such as renewable energy, fuel cells, and alternative fuels -- forward.
Patrick Labay, USA

Allergies filter

Every year I suffer, along with several others, from allergies. Sometimes it is so unbearable that nothing will fix it. Would it be possible to create an air filter that you can put on your nose and breathe through. I know it sounds very funny but allergy sufferers would do anything to stop sneezing.
Rahana Yasmin

It's a kind of magnet

My idea is to put a wire grid on road surfaces and a small magnet under all motor vehicles, which would induce electricity into the road surface and be collected into the municipal electrical system. This might have to be converted to AC current, but it would always be available, unlike wind or sun energy. Also, turbines could be designed inside tunnels to catch the energy of moving vehicles either by induction or vacuum created by moving objects. We could harness the energy of all moving vehicles.
Manuel Vazquez

Mapping the idea

Here is a low-tech computerless GPS map service for cars. On the car's front window, you can see the reflection of objects on the car dashboard. These reflections are back to front and some colors are reflected transparently and don't disturb a view of the road, while others are opaque and do disturb a view of the road. The idea is to copy a road atlas back-to-front and place it on the front window sill. With the correct colors one could have an unobtrusive map displayed on the front window. One can "see right though" the map at the road without having to turn one's attention to a GPS screen. At night a little light shining on the map reflects it up as well. Only question: Does copyright include copying an atlas in reverse?
Avron Polakow, Tel-Aviv, Israel

Powerful stuff

A huge number of small appliances -- including cell phones, computers, cameras and PDAs -- require a power adapter to convert mains. As each requires a different voltage, each appliance is usually supplied with its own adaptor. Power outlets become overloaded with extensions and multi boxes and it is impractical for traveling, because you end up carrying so many adaptors. Using a small, inexpensive one-bit processor in the appliance and the adapter, the two communicating via the two power supply wires (as is done for computer networks that use the installed power distribution system in buildings) should enable an appliance to inform the adapter of the required voltage and polarity. A single adapter could also have several such programmable on-demand outputs and serve several appliances at the same time. Existing appliances could be made with the appropriately programmed processor incorporated.
I.C. Vickridge, Paris, France

Going up?

In my opinion, the fastest and safest way of exiting the atmosphere is using a huge elevator that could carry 600 square feet of equipment. What you would end up with is a space dock, where you would be able to build a hotel, working station and have vehicles made to travel in the open space. This development would make space travel very inexpensive -- costing just thousands of dollars for electricity instead of millions in fuel in order to break through the atmosphere. Also, the link with Earth would work as a supplying channel for new explorations and adventures.
Fabrizio Guiraud Hubie, Curitiba, Brazil


My idea is to develop a layer that can be placed inside a car's headlight. The layer must be transparent when the bulb works and reflective if the bulb is off. This way, if the headlight is not working, the light reflected from your own headlights will indicate the position, and type, of the vehicle ahead of you.
Lindsay Magnus, South Africa

Simple energy

I have an idea for a system that would produce cheap hydrogen, the energy of the future. Hydrogen is produced by using electrolysis to crack water molecules. If you connect two wires to a battery and submerge the wires in a salt solution, you'll see oxygen and hydrogen bubble off a two-hydrogen-to-one-oxygen-atom ratio. Why can't this simple system be scaled up to produce vast amounts of cheap hydrogen? One could have giant electrodes (anode and cathode) submerged in the ocean near the coast. The electricity for electrolysis could come from a bank of solar panels, windmills or both.
Dan Caldwell

Healthy cigarettes

I would like to invent a cigarette that provides the smoker, and those nearby, with vitamins and healthy substances.
Nick Camerlenghi, Massachusetts, USA

Safety first

I have an idea to prevent injury in car accidents. Why not make the outer body of cars from double sheets with some space in between, separated by many high energy absorbing small-small springs, distributed all over the car body's inner sheet, and welded to the outer sheet? This would drastically reduce the force felt by those inside, during any kind of collision.
Shafi, Connecticut, USA


My idea is for a built-in charger for a cell phone. By incorporating a magnet and an electrical coil within a cell phone, one could charge the phone battery by merely shaking the phone several times. If the system is designed properly and the cell phone is worn on the waist one could accomplish charging by the simple up/down motion from walking. This way we may never run out of charge when we really need the phone in emergencies.
Prasad & Saagar Enjeti, Texas, USA

Talking stove

What about a voice-activated and talking stove for the visually impaired? The stove would tell you when the oven has reached the right temperature or if an element is hot but has nothing on it, whether something is overflowing or burning. A whole bunch of products could derive from this idea, including measuring cups that tell you when you have the right amount, a refrigerator with a scanner to tell you what is in it.
Jean F. Vienneau, New Brunswick, Canada

Bright lights

I'd like to see headlights that rotate up and down to help see the road when encountering hills. At the crest of a hill, the headlights would rotate downwards, and at the bottom of the hill, the headlights would tilt upwards. At the bottom of extremely steep hills, the driver can sometimes see only 20 or 30 feet in front of the car because the headlights only illuminate the trough of the hill directly in the car's path. This invention would rotate the headlights to better illuminate the road beyond the twenty or thirty feet, providing a higher level of safety and awareness to the driver.
John Fritzke, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

RFID workout

My Idea is to incorporate RFID (radio frequency identification) into the gym environment. Each user wears an RFID tag, possibly incorporated into a heart rate monitor. When they start using a piece of equipment, the machine automatically recognizes who they are and what training program they are on, and adjusts the weight or machine to suit. The information is relayed back to the gym's central server and keeps a history of progress. The user can then log in to a portal via the Internet and get reports on how they are going. It could include cardio training sessions and body fat composition.
Jae Cowan, Australia

Flying high

I refer to the 'Flying High' proposal to rotate the wheels on a plane prior to landing. This is in fact a standard feature of many airliners and has been for years.
Mike Butty

Power collection

My idea is to turn every sun-exposed surface into a solar-collection device. Roofing shingles, streets, sidewalks, playgrounds, parking lots. Every surface in a community would feed its power into a grid, with a local station distributing the power as needed.
Joe Hash, Toronto, Canada

Getting your bearings

Almost every mechanical machinery contains ball bearings. These need lots of lubricant and will always wear out because they are not perfect spheres. If you would use the space station to 'squirt' an amount of steel or other material out in the vacuum of space, its natural gravity would make a perfect sphere that would not wear out nearly as fast.
John Pfaffl Jr.

Cool idea

My idea is for a can, which has double walls that create a small annular space, filled with an inert, non-toxic cooling gas. When you open your can, the interaction of the gas with the air and the change of pressure produces an expansion of the cooling gas and therefore a reduction of the temperature. Final result: soda that doesn't need to be refrigerated.
Manuel J Ramos, Miami, Florida

Confidential faxes

Someone should design a fax machine that can dispense private, sealed fax documents. When the sender designates a fax as "private," the receiving machine would fold the fax internally, stuff it into an envelope and dispense the envelope with the recipient's name on it. That way anyone in a busy office could receive sensitive information by fax without risk of others reading it.
Lanny Fisher, Canada

Spring clean

This is rather low-tech, but it works very well. I take my computer to the back yard about twice a year and by using my yard grass blower, about 98.31 percent of all the dirt, dust and scum from within the case is eliminated. This also cleans out my power supply without taking it apart. Be sure and wear glasses to protect your eyes.
Mike Squier, Pasadena, Texas

Early pedestrian warning system

My idea is for all cars to have a small red brake light in the front part of vehicles. Pedestrians crossing a street would start to walk as soon as they would see this front brake light lighting up, instead of waiting until judging whether the coming car is really slowing down or stopping. Such lights will certainly speed up city traffic.
Robert H.Th.Huibers, Brazil

Safe as houses

I have come up with an idea that will prevent house fires, often caused by ovens accidentally left on. My device would be situated next to house doors and would be connected to the oven in the house. It would light up when the appliance is on and you would be alerted to this fact by seeing the light on.
Gloria Wu

Glass eye

I wear reading glasses and every time I receive a call or SMS on my cell phone, I have to put them on to see who is contacting me. Wouldn't it be great if I had an accessory to cover my phone screen which matched my glasses prescription. I would be able to see who is calling without having to put my glasses on.
Kulvinder Chandhok, Qatar

Road map peace of mind

No more need for costly GPS or reliance on maps via CDs. Use an RFID reader within the vehicle to "read" RFID tags embedded in street signs, street reflectors or even the line in the road and have them call out exactly where you are. An onboard computer could update the time to arrival, alternate routes, etc.
Chris Punke, Delaware

CNN reserves the right to abridge e-mails. Not all e-mails can be published.

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