7 things that would seriously improve daily life in Asia (if only someone invented them)



We’re always looking for that little something to make daily life just a bit more bearable. Some call us dreamers. Others call us crazy. Call us what you will, but you can’t deny that there remain plenty of problems to be solved in our part of the world. As the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), Uber and Digi begin their search for Asia’s next big idea via the ideation lab, we proffer a few fanciful inventions of our own to get you thinking.

1. A pocket motorcycle helmet so you can be safe whenever you end up hopping on a bike.

Rush hour traffic jams, being late for a meeting across town, and reluctance to use public transport (so many stairs!) are all reasons that might result in you jumping on the back of a trusty motorcycle taxi. More often than not, there’s no choice but to take a risk and ride helmet-less. But with technology focusing more and more on portability, why can’t we find a helmet that fits in our jeans pocket along with our smartphone? We’re hoping that new advances in material technology and the huge demand across Asia for easy and efficient safety measures will lead to a breakthrough soon.

2. Waterproof boots that keep your feet both dry and cool in the rainy season.

When the streets are flooded and the rain is coming down in sheets, the only thing standing between you and that murky water is a good pair of waterproof shoes. But conventional rubber boots only serve to create another flood, this time of sweat. We expect a new lightweight, breathable technology will be invented soon, one that protects our feet and keeps them fresh.

3. Clothes that automatically morph into something appropriate when you enter a place of worship.

What do you do when you’re in your usual tank top and shorts doing errands on a hot day only to realize that one of your scheduled visits is to a mosque, temple or other holy destination? Your sleeveless top and jeans just won’t cut it. Rather than offending en masse or detouring home – which might be a journey involving several forms of transportation – wouldn’t it be great if your outfit could automatically turn into something appropriate? Think extendable, lightweight sleeves and hidden pant legs. Hey, come to think of it, this invention would come in handy when we encounter icy blasts of air-conditioning too!

4. An app that lets your phone check nutrition content and hygiene of street food.

This app would simply turn your phone camera into a scanner that determines the nutritional and bacterial content of street food so you can make better-informed decisions. No one wants to give up delicious street food snacks or the customary rice and curry lunch, but this invention could tell us a little more about what we’re putting into our bodies. Asia is becoming more health conscious every year, so we’re pretty sure someone, somewhere, is working on this already.

5. A device that tells you just how much a street vendor will bargain down.

Shopping at the local market or on the street has a ton of benefits, great prices being the main draw. But when it comes to bargaining with unrelenting vendors, even the most seasoned shopper may fail. When that happens, casually pull out this newly invented device and scan the vendor’s face. It will automatically tell you how much you can expect them to lower the price based on their facial expression, heart rate and body language. Some premium add-ons might include specialized tips to use on said vendors, such as flattery or feigned nonchalance.

6. A special bag for durians that stifles the smell for real.

Durians; we love them and yet, we can’t bring them anywhere. One product that would bring an end to this prickly predicament is a specialized container worthy of holding the king of fruits in all his odorous glory. Now you can carry your durian wherever you please, from hotel to subway to airplane (better check with customs first).

7. A digital sign on your vehicle that delivers warnings (or apologies) for bad driving.

Traffic is one of the biggest woes we face here in Asia. When someone cuts you off, road rage can go off the charts. We think more open communication between drivers on the road might just be the remedy Asia needs. An easy-to-read digital sign on the back of your car/bike could display short messages like “In a rush to see sick grandma!” or something of the sort, so other drivers know you’re not just any old crappy driver.

Think you can do better? You might have the next world-changing idea or invent the next big problem-solving product!

The ideation lab is aimed at growing exciting, impactful business ideas from entrepreneurs within the ASEAN region. Through it, aspiring startups have an opportunity to pitch their products and win an international exposure trip to San Francisco.

Applications are open now until Sept. 17, 2016. For more details about the ideation lab and to submit your ideas, please visit global.mymagic.my/ideas.

Subscribe to the WTF is Up in Southeast Asia + Hong Kong podcast to get our take on the top trending news and pop culture from the region every Thursday!

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