Hey! That’s a Good Idea!

We Should be Doing More With These Winners

Have You Ever Noticed?

Sometimes a good idea rises to the surface, gets into use, has good results, but for one reason or another does not spread as quickly or as far as might be expected. Herein are half a dozen of such ideas that I think have proven out fully that really should be much more in use everywhere. Let me know if you have an addition to such a list.


Traffic circles work like a champ. They are not very common in the USA, but the data is overwhelming that they are, compared to intersections, safer, easier to use, and even more fuel efficient. We should have them much more widespread.

I admit they take a bit of getting used to for an American driver. I well remember the first traffic circle we came to in Ireland. Traffic was heavy, we had to enter the circle then exit left, and the darn steering wheel was on the wrong side! I figured the odds were high we would die in a flaming crash, only minutes after crossing the border into Ireland. But we survived and came to appreciate how much smoother these things are than intersections.

Come America, let us drive in circles.


We have spoken often in this space about the impressiveness of 3D printed buildings. As is common for new technologies, this one seemed to get a lot of attention up front, then faded a bit. It is a brilliant way to build and should be encouraged vigorously. Building this way is cheaper, faster, less resource intensive, and very flexible. The technology is still developing but is clearly a winner.

I have the pleasure of working on a Habitat for Humanity crew regularly. I very much enjoy the work and admire the professionals who guide us. But every time I am working on a house, I cannot help but think how much faster this could all be done with 3D printing.

Public Facilities

I have noticed that most public restrooms have toilets for the healthy, meaning pretty low profile units, and a very few handicapped units, which are taller. Similarly, if a men’s room, most urinals are set high on the wall, with a few set low for handicapped users. Not often, but from time to time, I see a handicapped person waiting for a suitable unit.

Why don’t we set all toilets high and all urinals low, so all can use all units? It would not be an inconvenience for anyone, would be a bonus for some, and likely would lower overall costs, as the inventory of equipment would be simplified, and installations would be standard. Darn, if I had thought of this earlier, I could have sent it to Joe for inclusion in the State of the Union speech this week.


One item here is smart watches. I could go on forever about these little jewels. Mine tracks all sorts of exercise and fitness data, keeps track of heart rates and abnormalities, checks temperature and breathing, notes blood oxygen levels, tells me if the noise level where I am is damaging, and much more. I have had doctors ask for data from my watch.

These things are great and not hard to set up. Some insurance companies give discounts for clients who wear such a watch. Hope that over not too long a time most of us wear and use these. They can be quality of life boosters, even life savers.

A second item, a bit more exotic, is medical robots. I hear they are in expanding use in Japan and in remote areas, like backwoods areas of Alaska. The robot can do basic health tests, help dispense medications, call for help, and form an audio-visual link for medical visits.

The potential for still more services is almost unlimited. These things should be on a steady path of improvement and should be a much more common sight. Some interesting reflections out there on whether such devices should be clearly mechanical or more humanoid. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.


A nice little trend is developing globally on placement of solar panels (the panels themselves are undergoing reengineering, but that is a story for another time). A number of cities are either requiring or rewarding places like parking lots to have a simple roof structure covered with solar panels connected to the power grid. People get to park in the shade and power gets generated on a large scale. Same thing can work on some buildings as well.

And there are farms now that have crops that do well with modest shade that is provided by solar panels on racks placed above the plants. Given the size of many farms today, this can account for a lot of solar energy production. It is a win-win for all.

Additions To The List?

Anything come to mind that you would add to this list? What is already out there that deserves a bit of a boost?

See You Next Week

Bill Clontz

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