The Latest and Greatest, 5.16.07

IDEAS…whew, I love ’em!  Why?  Hmmm…to me, it’s what they embody….it’s the excitement of that initial “thought” from which they’re sparked…it’s problem solving in motion…it’s the people behind them who envision innovation where others see only what “is”…it’s (insert 50 other rants here!)…I could go on and on.  Well without further adieu, let’s check out this week’s ideas in the ongoing series of “The Latest and Greatest.”

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“As much choice as there may be in the cereal aisle, nothing beats made-to-order, especially if you can mix and match 70 different ingredients. Which is what Mymueslioffers through its online cereal store.

Using a simple and user-friendly interface, customers build their own personal muesli. First, they pick a foundation (oats and other grains), then add fruits, nuts and seeds, and finally extras like organic gummi bears and alfalfa. Prices and quantities are tallied along the way (60 eurocents for 30 grams of chopped almonds, 40 cents for 45 grams of dried apricots, etc), and a 575 gram pack costs around EUR 5-9, depending on which ingredients are used. Shipping is extra.

Customers can name their mix, which is also assigned an ID that’s printed on the muesli box. This makes it super easy to reorder a specific mix, or recommend it to friends. Those who aren’t feeling creative can order one of the German start-up’s personal favourites, like tropical Copacabana Days, or Alte Freunde, a choc and nuts mix. Mymuesli only uses organic ingredients (which helps explain the hefty price tag), and offers exotic fruits like goji berries and sour cherries to spruce up the most important meal of the day. ”

(((((((( check out some more cool ideas ))))))))

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“A month ago, Apple announced that it has sold over 100 million iPods worldwide. Unfortunately, they don’t last forever, and tempting new models are always just around the corner. Which is where buymybrokenipod.comcomes in. The young start-up offers consumers a very simple way to sell their broken or unused iPods: after indicating which model they’d like to sell and what condition it’s in, the website gives an instant price-quote. Send it in, and payment is transferred via PayPal within 24 hours after the iPod has been received.”

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“One of the world’s favorite fast-food options just got even more convenient with Wonderpizza—the world’s first vending machine to serve up piping hot pizzas in less than two minutes. The Wonderpizza machine stands at about six feet high, six feet wide and three feet deep, and holds up to 102 pre-sliced 9-inch pizzas in separate and sealed trays. The pizzas are frozen using a special process. Once they’ve been thawed and placed in the machine, they have a shelf-life of 12 days. Standard varieties are Cheese, Vegetables and Ham, but other varieties can be produced on request (minimum order is 39,000 pizzas). Using a high-intensity toaster oven cooking process, Wonderpizzas are heated upon order and delivered fast and hot at a suggested retail price of USD 5–6.”

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“Beverly Hills-born DoMyStuff.comis an online marketplace where busy people can quickly find others to do their chores, from mowing the lawn or picking up dry cleaning to researching a cruise or planning a party.

How it works? Someone posts a task, choosing a relevant category and describing the task in detail. Businesses and individuals then bid for the task. Bids include the total cost to complete a task, when it will be completed and information on the service they will provide. The customer reviews the bids and chooses an assistant. Customers can view in-depth information on the service providers, including their names, locations and the ratings they’ve been awarded by past employers.”

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“At Bloom, the motto is “Shop Happy.” A new chain of grocery stores recently unveiled by supermarket giant Food Lion. Bloom has incorporated both innovative technologies and customer-friendly practices to create ‘a different kind of grocery store’. With a swipe of their Bloom Breeze Cards, shoppers can get personal scanners to carry about the store, scanning items and bagging them right in their carts as they shop.

The scanners provide a running tally of how much customers are spending, so they can be mindful of their budgets. Scanners also allow Bloom to send instant messages to customers, alerting them when prescriptions have been filled or their deli orders are ready for pick-up. When they’re ready to check out, shoppers simply go to any check-out lane and scan an “end of trip” barcode and the order automatically downloads to a register, so there’s no need to unload and reload the cart. Which brings the average checkout time down to 32.7 seconds. (There are random checks to make sure nobody is cheating the system.)

Based on nearly two years of consumer research and analysis, Bloom stores also feature customer-friendly aisle layouts, kiosks for downloading recipe ideas or learning about wine selections, 20-minute parking spots and more. There are even interactive information stations to help shoppers easily track down items on their shopping lists. Currently based on the east coast of the United States, there are 52 Bloom locations in Maryland, Virginia, and North and South Carolina, with plans to convert and rebrand dozens more Food Lion stores. Of course, Bloom isn’t the only supermarket making use of hand-held scanners and other technological advances. However, the combination of technology and implementing the industry’s best practices is something other retailers should take note of.”

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“Turning any cell phone into an eager personal scribe, Jotttransforms spoken messages into text. After signing up for the service online and validating their phone number and email address, users dial Jott’s toll free number (877-568-8486), say ‘me’ or the name of a contact or group of contacts, speak for up to 30 seconds and then hang up. Jott transcribes the spoken words into writing, and sends the message to its destination as an email or text message. Transcription usually takes a few minutes, or up to 20 minutes during peak hours. The original audio message is retained, and is linked to in the email for reference.

The service is deceptively simple, and lends itself to countless applications. It can be used to leave notes to oneself, from a reminder to buy a carton of milk, to capturing a brilliant idea. Or to draft emails, memos, or the next chapter of a novel while driving home from work. Lawyers and doctors, accustomed to speaking their correspondence and notes, can dictate on the fly.”

It should be noted that all info is via Springwise.

By Micah Davis

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