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Nancy Napier: An app to find clean restrooms nearby? Let’s get it here

This app could find a restaurant near you.
This app could find a restaurant near you.

I frequently scan future-oriented websites for new or unusual ideas that might be emerging. Often, the most interesting ones come from rather far-off places.

Trendwatching.com’s September report on the future of digital consumerism in Asia had a number of great ideas, some of which might be interesting to develop in the U.S. Here are just a few that I certainly would love to have:

▪  Thai-based Parking Duck is a shared site where home and office owners can post and then rent out empty parking spaces in real time. It’s a sort of Airbnb for cars. If your firm has unused capacity, just put it on the open market (in this case Parking Duck). Does an equivalent idea exist for restaurants that would have open slots in 15 minutes on a Friday night when I decide to go out (and I don’t have a reservation)?

▪  Another phone app, GottaGo, comes out of India and does just what you imagine it might: It provides a list of over 10,000 clean restrooms in several cities in India based upon your location. Now wouldn’t that be useful in most American cities or even on the road?

▪  Asiri Group of Hospitals, based in Sri Lanka, created the “Soap Bus Ticket.” Buses sell tickets that are permeated with soap, so riders can use their disposable tickets to clean their hands and ultimately, reduce the spread of germs. In what other settings might a cleanser be applied?

▪  A final example is from India again. Khushi offers a “smart necklace” with vaccination records on a chip that health providers scan. Babies wear the necklaces, saving their parents needing to carry a paper copy.

While these are intriguing ideas in themselves, my bigger point is to scour many sources for new ideas — or possible threats to our products or services. So start scheming: what would you use?

Nancy Napier is distinguished professor, Boise State University; nnapier@boisestate.edu

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