Invention Ideas That We Like (But See All the Time)

Posted ago by Baron

With close to 2,000 submissions coming into Quirky each week, it’s fair to expect that a certain number will be repetitive. Oftentimes, inventors will attempt to solve the same problem in a variety of different ways, and it may take time for us to find the right solution: we saw dozens of salt-and-pepper grinders before Chris Holcond submitted his concept for Grind. However, in many cases, identical or similar ideations will be posted month after month, raising interest among the community, but ultimately never reaching Eval. From an outsider perspective, these frequent-flyer concepts may be cause for confusion, so we’ve decided to list a number of Quirky’s most commonly submitted inventions, paired with some insight into why they aren’t making any headway. We hope it proves useful!

Rising-Base Salsa Bowl

Why We Like It: The idea behind this one is simple: a bowl designed especially for salsa and other dips, with a rising bottom that allows easier access once the contents run low (usually via a screwing mechanism). Now, most everyone has had a hand smeared with salsa when dipping chips into a jar, so the appeal of this product is both relatable and immediately apparent. In fact, we guarantee that a host of men and women throughout history have examined their dip-smeared hands and thought: “hey, wouldn’t it be great if…”

Why We Haven’t Picked It: Regrettably, while concepts like this provide an intriguing solution for salsa-hands, they tend to forget one key element: all require the user to pour the salsa into a second container, which makes the product no more efficient than the average wide-mouthed bowl (which also solves the problem of a narrow opening). Furthermore, any product that combines gooey liquids with a semi-complex mechanism risks being quite difficult to clean, another disadvantage when compared to a regular bowl. Now, if a cheap-enough system could be integrated directly into a jar of dip, that would be a different story, but the problem may simply be too narrow to justify a distinct product.

Toothbrush Combined with Floss/Toothpaste

Why We Like It: In general, the consolidation of two products into one is  something to be praised, especially if the two separate functions are somehow related. Like the ubiquitous Spork, these dental products seek to combine two associated tools —either a toothbrush and floss, or a toothbrush and a toothpaste tube— to make a common activity more convenient. Could there really be a downside?

Why We Haven’t Picked It: Unfortunately, there are several. While the consolidation of products is admirable in theory, it’s only worthwhile if you’re actually make a task more efficient. Since dental products are generally stored in the same place (the bathroom), it isn’t difficult to keep these products together, and both applying toothpaste and flossing are relatively simple to perform. Combining a toothbrush with floss or a toothpaste tube may streamline the process a little bit, but the added functionality can lead to any number of complications: a built-in floss dispenser would be difficult to refill, while a toothpaste-dispensing toothbrush would be a nightmare to clean. Combine this with the over-saturation of the dental hygiene marketplace, and the differing life spans for various consumable products (a toothbrush may last five months, while floss may run out in one), and you end up with a solution that causes more trouble than its worth. If you need any more convincing, the long list of unrealized concepts on Google Patents should be eye-opening.

Light-Up Keys and Key Holes

Why We Like It: As indicated by our recent product brief with Target, we love simple solutions here at Quirky, and this is about as simple as it gets. People have trouble finding their keyholes in the dark, so why not create a light that would illuminate a keyhole? Like a good pumpkin pie, the concept is simple, relatively easy to make, and just a little bit nutty.

Why We Haven’t Picked It: There’s no doubt that darkened keyholes are a frustration, but when you consider the amount of time the inconvenience costs you, a keyhole light woulds save you anywhere from 3 to 5 seconds. So, as Quirky’s Chief Revenue Officer Bill Lee would ask, is the juice worth the squeeze? It might be if the product had no downsides, but this concept provides us with an aesthetic conundrum: the keyhole light would either be activated at all times (which would be unsightly), or it would have some sort of proximity-based activation, which would be expensive (at least over $20). Either way, the benefit provided by the product would likely be outweighed by either its appearance or its cost, resulting in an orange not worth squeezing.

Solar-Powered Everything

Why We Like It: Let’s get real: if you’re reading this article, you’re probably aware of the benefits of solar power. Not only does it provide clean, eco-friendly energy, but a solar cell can be charged anywhere there’s sunlight, which is plentiful most anywhere but Lapland. In fact, the advantages are so appealing that you may be tempted to slap a solar charger on anything, from cell phone cases to GPS tags. To paraphrase the illustrious rapper Jay-Z, it’s a case of “All Solar Everything”.

Why We Haven’t Picked It: While it may be tempting to see solar power as the be-all-and-end-all of energy solutions, the fact of the matter is that the technology’s effectiveness is still limited. Most consumer-grade solar panels struggle to break 20% efficiency (which means they retain 20% of the energy applied to the panel by sunlight), and the highest-grade solar panels used by NASA are only able to reach 40% efficiency. We’ll use specifics to put this in context: a 1″ x  1″ panel would be rated at approximately .5 watts, and it would take a 20 watt panel nearly an hour to fully charge an iPhone. Although this is a gross simplification of the mathematics involved, the comparison provides some insight into the efficiency issues that hinder solar tech, the same issues that our engineers are wrestling with while developing Ray. This doesn’t mean that there is no potential for solar-enabled products: on the contrary, the tech should play a larger and larger role in consumer electronics as the decade progresses. However, if you’re going to submit a concept of your own, make sure that the technical specifications are viable, and be sure to explain why that particular product type would benefit from a solar charger (e.g. reliable power for a hiker’s emergency beacon). It shouldn’t be added just for kicks.

GPS Child/Luggage Tracker

Why We Like It: Much like the Rising-Base Salsa Bowl, this concept touches on a nearly universally impulse: the desire to know the location of a certain object at all times, be it a vehicle, luggage, or even your child. Cheaper RFID-based tags do exist, but their range is limited to less than 200 feet, making them ill-suited to consistent tracking, or finding lost items. Thus, because GPS technology is commonly associated with long-range tracking and locating, many inventors make the logical connection, and submit a generalized concept for a compact GPS tracking device.

Why We Haven’t Picked It: The problem with GPS mirrors the problem with solar: inventors expect more from the tech than it can currently provide. A GPS system relies on satellites, so to communicate properly with a satellite array, any GPS-enabled tracker would need to compress a very robust receiver and power source into a compact device, and feature a subscription-based GPS plan to boot. This means a rather hefty price point, especially for a general-purpose tracker intended as an everyday convenience. Just how expensive you ask? Well, a specialized GPS tracker called Pikavú does exist, designed to help parents locate their children using a wristwatch tracker and portable display. The cost: $1200.

Can you think of any other product concepts that you see submitted to Quirky over and over? If so, share it in the comments section below!

Comments (82)

Thanks for the tips. This info should be in the forefront of the "Invent" page.
A ²
Taco holder?
A common submission is a Device/pager to locate keys, glasses, remote control, etc..
Thanks for the insight! I think you meant to say toothpaste might run out in a month, but a toothbrush may last five - dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every 6 months. That would have to be a big tube of toothpaste to last 5 months. Also, there is just as much sunlight in Lapland than anywhere else - just compressed into 1/2 the time! So, you could charge your phone with Ray at 3am in Lapland, in the summer, while elsewhere, you'd have to wait till dawn. But, during the winter you'd be S.O.L. How about this repeated idea: charge a cell phone with another cell phone.
Another common submission is the contraption which raises and lowers the toilet seat lid. Rumor has it this device could potentially salvage marriages.
Baron Nagy
Thanks for the heads up Chuck, that actually wasn't a typo! Clearly, I need to use more toothpaste, and stop replacing my toothbrush so frequently.
Jeff and Stephanie Thirtyacre
That was seriously interesting not only about those products not being chosen, but Q's reasons as to not choose something. Thanks!
Ben Haulenbeek
Lapland, I want to go there...
Jason Hennessy
Nice Post. Does a healthy yet delicious Tofu baconstrip machine come up often too? I am thinking of submitting ;)
Baron: maybe I just waste toothpaste Ben: I've been there, but only in the summer, so I guess I haven't REALLY been there.
Great information...keep it coming.
Don't forget the famous sunscreen back applicator.
Katie Walker
I gave up on the submission page way back when I was first active on Quirky. I saw so many of this kind of thing submitted it became hard to find anything worth voting on -and this was back when submissions were released all at one time, not on an as-submitted basis. My favorites were always anything that required GPS location to within less than 20 feet. No, I'm sorry, GPS can't tell you if your keys are on the table or in the couch.
Thanks so much for this article. Very informative -- I feel I have a better understanding of why Quirky picks some things and not others. I would love to know why some products are put UC and others are not. Ah well, such is life.
A very worthy idea, but probably a liability nightmare - the "save a child from being left in the car" alarm.
Anthony French
I hear you Baron for sure..but I have a great idea for a salsa bowl that has a solar powered, base that lifts up and also lights up and beeps if you leave behind after your picnic. (and whatever you say here I think its worth 10 of my bucks!) lol. all great examples- thanks for the thought share
Baron Nagy
@ManicInventor Truth be told, I would probably buy that. @JConKir This blog post describing Preval meetings shares some insight into the selection process, and you can also check out our Feedback Friday broadcast to join in on a live ideation review. Damn, I love the internet. Also, thank you Patti for giving us the idea for this post!
Denyveaus Sells
Good idea Patti, Thanks for the post Baron.
Danon Seletkovic
Thank you for pointing this out. I think it would be GREAT if you could implement an automatic notification for those who submit ideas related. IE when someone writes "GPS" or "salsa bowl" in the title or description of an idea, a pop-up screen with instructions (or link to this Blog post) comes out. It would improve idea quality for sure.
Yay! Maybe all the "Solar Powered xxx" people will see this!
Paulette Jaques
Love this post!
Paulette Jaques
Did you child poop alert system....heated ice cream scoop.....
_ Nick _
This is really good. Would love to see more posts like this, Baron.
Elizabeth Wingfield
Dog poo, toilet lifter, split couples blanket.....Baron,can we to a list of the the Community voted top 50 oversubmitted items?
Barbra Winston
how about the 150 submissions to get lotion on your back LOL.....
Indoor plant self-watering systems. Thank you, please keep this story going with more insights into why these are not chosen. Thanks!
Baron Nagy
I may do a Part 2 for this blog post, so keep the ideas coming! Lotion applicator, 2.0 pooper scoopers and toilet lifters will definitely make the list.
Elizabeth Wingfield
PLEASE add this to "before you push submit" part of the submission page, also a link to our store, and the projects in development list!!!!!!!
Also, with your keyhole light thing, ive seen tiny LEDs that attach to your key that you just squeeze for like $3 in the checkout lane.
Why does Quirky accept submissions of ideas for 'perpetual motion machines'? Shouldn't the submissions be screened by someone who knows better and the submitter's money be returned? The Quirky staffer who knows there is insufficient solar energy available per square meter of collection surface area to do anything useful should do the refunding.
Derrick K
I know Baron, the pooper scooper needs to be on the list. It is an idea that has been worn out. Thank you for all the info you have given it will help a lot.
Perhaps someone should post a diffinitive list. Im sure there was a list kicking around somwhere on the forums?
Kevin Hamblin
How about the "carry all your grocery bags in one hand" devices? I see those pretty often.
I would appreciate it if anyone can help to clarify the watt calculations for solar panel and iphone usages. Thanks in advance. Cheers.
More common submissions are the UV sterilization devices. They come in all types e.g. toothbrush sterilizers, keyboard, telephones, toilet brushes, etc.. Thanks Baron!!!
David Veshapidze
"S" in GPS stands for Global Positioning System, not Satellite
David Veshapidze
Meant to say: "S" in GPS stands for "System", not Satellite, as in "Global Positioning System".
Jason Hunter
This should be under the Learn Tab!;)
How about the hand squeeze machine to power everything ideas? I've seen at least a dozen random ideas that involve powering some random machine with the use of a hand grip charging device. I can't wait to hear Quirky's reason for not choosing these ideas... It would be epic.
Best Answer - Chosen by Asker It depends in what context it is used. If you are talking about what item allows you to use your device, it is the Global Positioning Satellite. This refers to the actual Satellite. If you mean the whole network allowing you to use your device, it is Global Positioning System. This is often the one used when talking about the device itself. Such as, "Cool! I just got a GPS for my birthday!"
eureaka ive got it check this out
Hey Baron- thanks for the great reference to the pre-eval post. I have trouble navigating the forums at times, so that was a fabulous reference to read. Cheers.
Yolanda Jackson
Oh! No! I was going to design a squeezable salsa bottle and bowl in one... Dream crushers.. Great article :)
Good, now tell use what you like that you would adopt and why.
Frank Langford
I agree with Constantine, tell us what you are looking for!
Baron Nagy
@David Thanks for the heads up, that was certainly a mistake. Now corrected :)
Elizabeth Wingfield
This doesn't need to be on the Learn Tab, it needs to be a button before you can push "submit". And add shoes that convert from high to low heels to that growing list. Never gonna happen.
I agree, post a quick button to this on the home page, learn page, and at top of submit page. And also make it clear that adding non stick sprays or scotch guard type products to existing products does not always equal a new product idea, maybe if it is essential to the new ideas existence and operation it could be considered a new idea.
No worries most of the UC will expire, leaving room for new UC, that's how it usually works. Would be nice if CEO Ben had the brilliant idea of bring in the talents of the 3d printer community to bear on those UC especially the ones that Quirky find too challenging to take on. Allowing the company to take on experienced talent without having to place anyone of them on the payroll by competing for price money on best prototype is a sure way to accelerate profit and member satisfaction all in one move of the chest piece.
And no more NeverWet Ideas! Ideas that are not actually ideas, but more about application of a substance on existing products.
Bernie Daraz
One comment on the toilet seat issue and it isn't mine. If we don't complain about you leaving the seat down why bother us when the seat is left up?
Wayne Swanson
Wayne Swanson
The salsa bowl is very intriguing . What if it worked like a lid. Screw it into the middle of the bowl . Flip it over . Empty jar. Snap on lid. Why don't they just put salsa in cool whip bowl ? Look how long it took Heinz to make an upside down ketchup bottle.
Kat Devlon
Kat Devlon
Extending iPad/iPhone holder so you can read in bed. Seen it 20 times. Why not pick one?
Biana Elman
Hello, I have a potential IDEA which has been noticed. Any CEO's out willing to give me the time of day to speak about this wonderful INVENTION WITH ME. my email is
Would be a good idea to display images/words of past ideas that have similar words as the one I am submitting in the form, like the text that displays in the search bar as I type...
Will .
If you are still feeling inspired, please take a moment to check out this site which focuses on Invention Help and Inspiration.
Andrew Udoff
Andrew Udoff
As far as a luggage locator goes, once the transmitter is mass produced, it would not be expensive at all. GE is now in the picture and this is what they do. Think about your Smartphone, it uses GPS and it is relatively inexpensive. Navigation systems for vehicles are also comparably cheap these days. GPS in a transmitting unit no longer has to be expensive. People want to track their luggage these days - they don't want to be a victim anymore!!!!!
Richardson Lacerda
Hahaha! Maybe I really move to Lapland! My girlfriend is from there! =P Ok, ideas submited over and over? Pivot it, pivot that, power it, power that, collapsable it, collapsable that... Do you want more Baron? =D
Paulette Blankenship
Here's one that has been very popular lately, Thoroughly researched with new discoveries very much worth assessing!
I agree on the toothbrush!
Great article Baron! It really helps to understand where Quirky is coming from so we can submit products that Quirky will be interested in. Although, I got lucky once I think I have a ways-to- go so, any info is greatly appreciated. After all, nobody wants to waste anybodies time!! That was almost like who's on first wasn't it?!LOL! Kudos to the creator!
All the ideas to keep us from the remotest chance of coming in contact with a germ are at best hilarious, and at worst will turn us into a race with no resistance to any bacteria or germ at all. The craziest one is a toilet that had multiple stacked rings with tabs, so every family member had his own seat! And this for parents who are kissing their kids and sleeping together!
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Also, a simple list of "Do's" and "Don't"s would be much easier to navigate than these case studies. For example, I'm under the impression that food products are a "don't" but haven't been able to find that actually written anywhere in the help / faq section of this website.
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I believe most members only look at the first couple pages in the "New Ideas Page." With so many new ideas posted each day it doesn't take long for your "Invention" to be waaay down the list where it rarely gets seen. I think this is a big problem with Quirky. There is just so may new ideas posted for members to spend any meaningful amount of time to vote on. Also it would be nice to know how many members viewed your idea because its very discouraging not seeing any votes regardless if its thumbs up or down. I'd rather see lots of thumbs down votes then none at all. Then I'd have some feedback if I should continue pursuing the idea on my own since I took the risk of making a public disclosure. If I know I can't get any reliable feedback, good or bad, from Quirky on my idea that I think is worth submitting, then I might as well file a provisional patent myself. It doesn't cost much and it allows me to claim "patent pending. And since I've now gone that far why should I submit it to Quirky? For 30%-40%? I might as well do a little more work on the idea and post on Kickatarter.
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