I’m a big fan of X-Prize style innovation. Instead of hiring a research team, and building a whole facility to research a subject, just start adding to a prize fund for whoever the first person is to give you the answer you seek. This way, you end up getting facilities, minds, correlations, and other resources you may not have realized existed working for you, all without paying a cent until you see results.
Several years ago, Google started a project along these lines, asking the public for their ideas to change the world. They offered big connections and prize money to those ideas they chose as the best. They ended up far behind schedule, and I wasn’t that impressed with their choices in the end, but I like that they tried. My submission is below:
A data path exists for processing credit and debit transactions at stores. Use this system to upload store receipts to online accounts. The customer could then use their account at home (like online banking) to use this information as they see fit, and the aggregated data could be used to varying degrees (allowing for privacy) to better the retail system.
- Like online banking or Amazon recommendations, it could be both secure and useful to all involved.
- Allows people to track their own spending in an interactive fashion while saving manhours.
- Potential for adsense like contextual marketing.
- Could merge with personal finance software, calculate nutritional intake for dieters, alert people with allergies. etc.
- Affects a large portion of the world (everywhere you want to be).
- Employers can keep tabs on company credit card usage.
- Checkboxes to make easy tallying and splitting of bills for roomates.
- Reminders or suggestions for recurring purchases.
- Easy to find one click tech support, manuals for bought products.
- Competing stores could send advertising telling you how much you would have saved shopping with them.
- Quicky target customers with product recalls. This could have prevented many deaths recently in China.
- Could integrate with massive medical databases to find hidden correlations between products and health.
- Manufacturers could target customers with coupons and offers.
- Environmental: Saves paper on receipts, manuals, coupons, advertisements, as well as the other impacts from creation and delivery of such products.
- Google is one of the very few companies with the resources, expertise, and trustworthiness to make this a reality. If you don’t do it, who will?
What problem or issue does your idea address?
- Waste Management
- Wasted man-hours
- Unnoticed product recalls
- Compulsive spending
- Allergic reactions
- Credit Fraud
- Running out of milk
- Lost product manual/warranty
- Advertising wasted on the uninterested
- Medical research