So you know how baby monitors allow parents to listen in on their child from a couple rooms away? As a parent, you can go about your evening of watching Inside Edition and eating chips and still hear everything the baby is doing a few rooms over. If the baby starts crying or needs a diaper change or whatever causes babies to cry (sadness over inability to eat chips?), parents can attend to their kid, or of course choose to ignore the child. Look, this isn’t a piece about how to raise a child, you’re on your own for that. No no: this is a piece about innovation.
The problem is that baby monitors are one-way communicators: the baby can’t hear you, and I’ve found this out because I have screamed into baby monitors and the kid can’t legitimately hear anything, unless I am in close proximity to the nursery and the baby simply hears me screaming until I am red in the face. The other thing is that our baby is really young and doesn’t really react to sound or screams.
The other day it occurs to me that you could take the baby monitor product one step further: allow the baby to hear you. As in two-way communication. That way, you can talk to the child, and the child can respond back. This may even allow you to continue watching Inside Edition and eating your chips because you’d hear the kid rustling around but be like “Hey kid are you okay or do I need to come in there and change your diaper or feed you since you are incapable of doing anything for yourself?” and then your baby is all “Yeah Ma I’m fine, leave me alone, just need to roll around and cry a little bit.” Now you’ve just had a conversation with your baby through a machine, all while continuing to watch your favorite syndicated newsmagazine - not to mention television’s longest-running, top-rated, and most honored.
Now that you’ve got the concept of the two-way baby monitor, let’s take another giant leap forward - and bare with me because I am about to either blow your mind or completely lose you with all this future-speak. We take the two-way baby monitor idea, pull it out of the infant market, and expand it to general consumers. Boom! Suddenly you have a system that allows two people to converse by talking into little machines to one another.
With the proper technology infrastructure in place, you create a system whereby two people can speak to one another over long-range distances. Perhaps they discuss Inside Edition's hard-hitting investigations, exclusive newsmaker interviews and incisive human-interest stories, as well as celebrity and pop culture features. Or simply chip varieties, and why dill is suddenly popping up everywhere. Topic of discussion doesn't really matter; the point is, they can talk to one another through a machine!
Of course, at first we would have to test out the technology by talking into the monitors from one room to another room in a house. Then the first guy walks across the street while the second guy stays back in the house. They go back and forth until the first guy walks as far as he can while still hearing the second guy’s voice on the other end. Depends on how far the signal carries. Perhaps the first guy walks upwards of one mile, and someday in the hopefully not-too-distant future, you could talk to someone through the baby monitor at a range of up to 10 or even 20 miles.
I will likely need to hire an engineer, as well as someone who specializes in walking long distances.
Now I know you’re thinking: “Jeff, clearly you have not thought about the fact that many baby monitors today allow parents to watch their kids on video, not just audio.” Well, as an innovator, let me say that I am one step ahead of you. Imagine being able to chat over video to another person, even if they are all the way across town! Definitely part of my invention plan, although likely a third or fourth version of it.
In time, you may also be able to record that video conversation, or snap photos of the other person. Again, this is Star Trek-like stuff so I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
Surely my idea has limitations. As an innovator, I understand that. Baby monitors require being plugged into an electrical outlet to operate, so you would only be able to use my concept in places with access to a power source. I would definitely sell an inexpensive cord-lengthener to allow people to use their communicator far away from power outlets; still, it’s not like you will ever be able to walk down the street talking into an adult version of a baby monitor.
Also, if this idea is going to be adopted by the masses, I’ll need to figure out a way for people to communicate with a particular device. Maybe this means giving each baby monitor its own numerical or alphabetic code. Then if you want to call a specific person, you simply “dial” that person’s code to reach them. And now that I think about it, say you regularly talk to multiple people, you may therefore have multiple codes to manage. Hopefully people will be smart enough to store the codes in a safe place.
Anyway, clearly some work to be done on my concept but I am hopeful that it has legs. I’ve shared my idea with a few people and to be honest most think I’m an idiot. But I’ve read the books about entrepreneurism and learned that it’s important to press on when people try to detract you. This idea is worth at least two million dollars and I can’t believe no one has thought of it.
Or is it “distract” you? Is “detract” a word? Detact. Detract. Detach?