Saturday, April 26, 2008

Invention Alert!

Editor's Note:

For anyone with the time, money or connections, today's entry is an idea that I hope you will run with... If you do, all I ask for is that you send me one once you have built it and start making your millions!

Have you ever seen an invention and thought: "I could have come-up with that!" or "What a great idea! Why hasn't anyone come up with this before?" or "Hey! That was my idea!"

That is exactly the reaction that I had the first time that I saw the On-Demand Video offerings that my cable company offers with their digital video recorder option. The exactly response was: "Hey! That was my idea!" Now, granted, I could hardly believe that I was the first to think of it, but the fact remains that a friend of mine and I came-up with the ideas of On-Demand Video and DVRs long before they were being publicly discussed. It's just that neither Larry nor I were sufficiently motivated to follow-it up.

In 1986 my friend, Larry had just bought a new house. (Technically, Larry was my boss, but we hung-out together and were pretty good friends too.) One weekend, he was laying tile and marble in the living room and dining room floors. On a break for beer as we sat looking out over the bay we were shooting the breeze and I said that after I left I was going down to the video store to rent a movie and was probably going to have dinner and crash early.

This was when we discussed the idea of somehow inventing a box that would sit above the TV with computer circuits and memory that could download movies as a subscription service and let people watch them without having to go get the actual video tapes (DVDs were still off in the future...) we even tossed-out the idea that perhaps the TV station we worked for could be recorded off-air and played back like a VCR but with the computer controlling the recording, the programming could be made as far into the future as the user liked.

The problems of course were that in the mid-eighties, the cost of computer components and memory was still pretty high. The cost of the machine would be too high for it to be workable. Besides that, you have to remember what modem bandwidth was like back then. It would have taken a week to download a single movie... It wasn't viable at the time.

So now, I have another idea... it is viable, practicable and I think it would be really popular. It is similar to the DVR but it would be built into your Radio. The thought came to me the other day as I was driving to work. The news program I was listening to was talking about a pretty interesting story... just as they were about to mention a topic I was really interested in, some idiot cut me off... my attention was diverted as I watched him weave in and out of the traffic ahead.

By the time I could divert a fraction of my attention back to the radio, the story was underway and I had missed some salient point that made the story make no sense to me at all. It was at this instant that I, by habit reached for the back-up button.

You see, one of the cool things about my DVR is the back-up button. If you miss something that someone says on live (or recorded) TV, you simply hit this button and it sets you back thirty-seconds in the feed... you can then hear what you just missed.

I can see it as being a great boon to radio listeners everywhere! I would consider buying a radio with this feature! (But as you're probably going to send me one for free when you use my idea to make millions, I probably won't need to.)

Wherever you are today, I hope you're having a lovely day!

Don Bergquist - April 26, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA


Nick Moore said...

Hey Uncle Don! Great idea... it's called "podcasting". Unless you're referring to live radio in which case it'd really mess with the flow of the show. Now... if you could come up with a way to TiVO live radio, THAT would be awesome! Take care! -N

Don Bergquist said...

Hey, again, Nick!

(Wow, you're responded to two posts in three days... I'm honored!)

Nope Nick, I know what podcasting is... your decrepit, old Uncle Don is not so out of it that he doesn't know what podcasting is. I've been listening to podcasts for years now.

I'm referring to LIVE radio. TiVO is a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) but it is not, by any means, the only one... The one I have is part of my cable system's tuner. It has built-in capability to record a series (like TiVO) and gives me the ability to hit pause (like when your mom calls to chat with her little brother) or rewind (like when Saga starts barking and I miss something that was said in the program) on Live broadcasts, not just the on the programs recorded.

The comment about "messing-up the flow of the show" misses the point, the flow was messed-up when the tosser in the Toyota cut me off... I am trying to restore the flow of show! What it would do is use the memory built into the RaVO (as it were) to time shift the broadcast back a few seconds to the point where the A$$ in the Audi decided to do something stupid and capture all my attention!

You could (as I do with my DVR) hit the [LIVE] button or the [Fast Forward >>] button when you hit a commercial break (or the sponsorship announcement - in the case of NPR) to return to the program without the time shift.

It's great, though, that conceptually, you agree with my concept!

Have a great day!