Genius Inventions That Should Exist In Every City
Here are some genius inventions that should exist in every city!Design
Cities are great, but they can be as incredible as they are problematic. Ever zoned out on the subway and missed your stop? Or tried to get down from the top floor of a bus and nearly broke your neck on the stairs?
Luckily, some smart cookies have thought up ingenious solutions to these little problems, like light-up subway stops, bus slides, and even full-height skyscraper slides! Let’s take a look at some of the most amazing inventions that might be coming to a city near you in the not-so-distant future!
If there’s one thing the Netherlands has plenty of, it’s bikes. The two-wheeled trend began back in the 1970s, making cities safer and more livable, leading to the country owning some 23 million bikes today.
But unlike a car, you can’t just put your trash in the passenger seat, footwell, glove box, or trunk. So, where are all these cyclists meant to dispose of their rubbish en route? Some huge hoops have been installed along cycle paths to encourage more people to, literally, throw away their trash.
They’re designed to be used at speed thanks to their 3 ft wide hoop and conical shape, so you don’t have to stop or even slow down to hit the target! Trash hoops, or blikvangers as they’re called by the Dutch, are incredibly simple, but make all the difference to the environment in the cities they’re installed in.
The Exchange Building, Detroit
All buildings are built from the ground up but there’s at least one building in Detroit that’d beg to differ! The Exchange is a building that’s literally been built from the top down! The core is constructed first, then each floor is built on the ground, before being elevated and locked into the core.
Once it’s in position, the strand jacks, which lift the floorplates, are lowered back down to lift up the next one. Each floor plate weighs approximately 500 tons and can be raised at 25 feet per hour. This method reduces physical labor and the construction site land mass required, as well as preventing equipment from getting wet from rain.
If more cities introduced this impressive construction model, it could save unprecedented amounts of time, space, and, ultimately, money! Who knew doing things backward could make things move forward?
Walking down the steep stairs on a double-decker bus is a death trap, especially when the bus is still moving. There must be a less terrifying way to get down that doesn’t involve some imminent injury and graphic designer and photographer Surreal HK might have us covered.
They’ve created a concept that straps a slide onto the back of the bus, giving passengers a super quick, and fun, emergency exit! Plus, it’s a one-way system, so no battling for space between the people getting on and off!
That’s a nifty concept, though those open sides might be a little too dangerous to have at the back of a potentially moving vehicle. Still, it’s not a bad place to start! Although, SurrealHK hasn’t stopped there.
They’ve also imagined a way to make traveling down Hong Kong’s International Finance Center way more fun and colorful! Just choose one of the 8 slides at the top, plummet down, and arrive at your ground-floor destination a few seconds later!
Arguably, this design is too dangerous to ever be real, considering most people prefer their bones unbroken. But there are Skyscrapers that offer visitors glass slide rides around the exterior portions of the top floors of their buildings like LA’s Bank Tower slide!
While it may just be a visitor attraction for now, maybe in the future we’ll see people in suits whizzing their way down slides to start their evening commute!
If you’ve used a public urinal recently, you might have noticed that a lot of people have terrible aims. However, drips and splashes in public urinals could soon be a thing of the past! With a wonderfully weird urinal, you’re meant to stick your thing inside, so that your stream is splash-back free.
Is it the most sanitary option? Most definitely not, you never know what’s been stuck in there beforehand! But the idea of a no-splashback urinal is pretty genius. Thankfully, some splash-free designs do exist that don’t look quite as intimidating.
In 2022, mechanical engineer Dr. Zhao Pan tested multiple urinal shapes designed specifically to prevent splashback, basing his design on nautilus shells. Streams are intersected by the surface at a 30-degree angle with the long, downward ‘V’ shape, cutting off any splashes or spills. I bet the cleaners in particular can’t wait to see them lining the walls.
Megaphones To Amplify Sounds Of The Forest
Sometimes, you need to escape from the chaos of city life and return to nature. But even in the forests, you can find amazing inventions that enhance your experience of the outside world.
The odd-looking contraption in the image below, for example, is basically a giant, reverse megaphone. It amplifies the noises heard in the forest like the animals, insects, weather, and channels it into the ears of the person laying in it. It achieves this using those large wing-like enhancers, which direct all of the soundwaves to its center, so listeners can pick them up easily.
They’re primarily constructed from wood, as wood absorbs sound waves naturally, and cranks up the volume in turn. These inventions are currently found in Estonia, but they’d be perfect in plenty of other parts of the world, perhaps in national parks or designated beauty spots! That way, you could listen to as many soothing sounds as possible before returning to the inevitable honking and hollering of the city.
Whenever I’m riding on the subway, I put my headphones on and zone out, and more than once I’ve tragically missed my stop because of this! Luckily, there are subways in, London, Amsterdam, Athens, Sao Paulo, and other parts of the world that have solved the issue of losing track of where you are because of daydreaming and loud music.
They have used LEDs to light up each stop on the map, allowing passengers to quickly and easily check where they are on the route. This is a great addition that lets you know exactly where you’re going without having to immediately worry that you’ve missed your stop or you’re on the wrong train!
Sidewalk Sanctuaries For Dogs
It's undeniably sad to see a dog tied up outside a store. If only there was a safe, comfortable place to keep your pet when you need to run an errand! Luckily, DogSpot is here to rescue your furry friend.
A Brooklyn-based company has created interactive kennels just for this purpose, with each one able to accommodate dogs up to 100 pounds for a maximum of 90 minutes. There’s no danger of them getting lost or stolen with its locked door system.
And inside, the den includes fans to allow fresh air circulation and appropriate heat regulation, so your canine companion will never be too cold or too hot! To keep each one sanitary, DogSpots use UV lights after every visit to kill bacteria and viruses.
And to make it even easier, they even have an app; you just reserve a kennel for the appropriate time! A dog cam is equipped, letting you check up on your furry friend whenever you need to, for peace of mind.
What’s more, there are companies all over the world offering similar kennel experiences, like Norway’s Den 4 Dogs. So, no matter where in the world you go you don’t have to leave your dog at home! Let your dog relax in a comfy kennel while you go fetch!
Why did the chicken cross the road? Because it didn’t know that the ecoduct existed! Animal crossings, or ecoducts, have been created to allow animals safe passage over busy highways. There are over 600 of them in the Netherlands alone, and they are spreading all over the globe. And with good reason!
Highways can divide important habitats for all sorts of creatures, such as the mountain lion population in Los Angeles. Since 2002, at least 25 of these gorgeous big cats have been involved in fatal automobile accidents.
Luckily, the US government is reportedly greenlighting a $350 million budget for animal-friendly infrastructure like bridges, roadside fences, and underpasses. In fact, the world's largest animal crossing is currently being built near LA, stretching 210 ft long at a price of $90 million.
That’s a lot of money, but a study in Canada reported that there was a 90% decrease in wildlife/vehicle collisions since they installed several overpasses. This innovation not only helps the animals, but it also helps clear the roads and keeps city highways safer for all. Finally, that chicken can get to the other side without becoming roadkill!
House Hooks In Amsterdam
Have you ever had to get huge pieces of furniture up a set of stairs? While we were busy sawing our couches in half, over in the Netherlands, they’ve implemented a much more practical solution.
Houses there are often very narrow, especially if they’ve been built on the canal side. This is because, historically, the wider a house was built, the more taxes a homeowner had to pay. So to save money, many property owners would build long, high houses.
But when the time came to move house, large and heavy furniture could hardly fit through the door, let alone be taken upstairs. So, these houses have hooks built into the tops of their exteriors, which can be used to attach a rope pulley. Furniture can then be hoisted by hand up into the air and transferred inside through the windows!
If you ever see this happening in real life, and you’re suddenly confronted by a three-seater couch floating in mid-air, at least you’ll know you’re not going crazy! And it’s not just for couches. From boxes to ovens, all can be lifted!
Locks are pretty impressive pieces of engineering, allowing those on canal boats to adjust the water levels so that they can gradually climb or descend steep waterways. But have you ever wondered how fish navigate these locks? One lock in Utrecht became the home of the world’s first fish doorbell.
Underwater cameras display how many fish are waiting in queue to pass through the lock, with people online able to ‘press’ the doorbell to let them through by accessing a live stream. When this happens, a signal is sent to the lock operator, who can then open the lock if there are enough fish waiting in line.
The doorbell allows fish to migrate to meet their biological needs; they need to be in deeper waters to keep warm in the winter, and shallower waters in spring so that they can produce offspring. When the bell is pressed, the lock gates open, releasing hundreds of gallons of water. This lowers boats and fish, so they can join the next stretch of the canal.
Stressful day at work? Can’t cope with school essays? In Copenhagen, there are public places in the city you can go if you need to unwind and sway.
Called “Off Ground”, this series of public hammocks are available in the summer on the boardwalks of the city center. They’re a creative alternative to benches, and though they may look bizarre in an urban space, they do create an easy-going environment; something that’s desperately needed in fast-paced cities.
The hammocks are repurposed from old fire hoses and steel piping, cleverly upcycled for public enjoyment. Similar hammock designs have also been installed in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, perhaps it will catch on as a popular city trend in the summertime.
3D-Printed Waterproof Casts
Everything’s better in 3D. Films, graphics, printers. To add to that 3D printer hype, now they can benefit the medical world with special 3D printed casts.
Most modern medical casts are made from plaster or fiberglass, which are stiff and rigid to keep the healing bone beneath in place. But 3D printed casts, which are made from a high-temperature thermoplastic, look much cooler and easier to move in. This is due to their thin, breathable structure and being incredibly less complex to remove. No more horrifying cast saw!
The best part about this invention is that they’re waterproof, which means there’s no fear of showering with your sponge-like plaster cast on or the panic of excessively wrapping it in plastic! Its spiderweb design lets air hit the skin easily, preventing sweat and bacterial build-up normally found in traditional casts.
And no more using pens or straws to reach down into them when you have an itch! But if these casts are so much better, why aren’t hospitals using them? 3D-printed casts can cost anywhere between $200 to $500, and plaster casts typically sit around the $250 margin.
Many hospitals don’t have the facilities or budget to accommodate 3D printers; and currently, it takes 90 minutes to print just one out, which could add to longer hospital waiting times. And no one wants that. However, as technology advances, both the time and cost of these casts could be brought down to make them a more accessible option for all!
Moscow Subways Ticket Machine Accepts Squats
Would you exercise to avoid a transport fare? In Moscow, Russia, a machine offering just that was installed in Vystavochnaya Station as a promotion for the Olympic winter games back in 2014. Given a time limit of two minutes, passengers could complete thirty squats to ride the metro for free.
Not only was this scheme used to encourage exercise and health, but also to deter fare dodgers from abusing the public transport system. The squats were regulated and judged by the machine, which printed a ticket worth 92 cents when finished successfully. This might not seem like a lot, but imagine if this was a daily routine.
Those savings could add up nicely, and riders would be healthier for it! There’s definitely potential for implementing these machines across cities, especially if it gives you a discounted or complimentary ticket. You might feel a little embarrassed about popping a squat in public, but if enough people took part, it could inspire hundreds of commuters to get active.
Smog Free Bicycle
Cycling is a great way to get around town, but what if we could make it even better? Not just for ourselves, but for the environment? Daan Roosegaarde, a Dutch designer living in China, has designed a bicycle that inhales city air filled with smog and pollutants from cars and factories and releases fresh air back into the atmosphere.
Like a manta ray, which filters water for food, the bike draws in particulate matter and cleans it using its own attached device. As you ride around the city, you won’t just be taking in the sites, you’ll be cleaning the streets, too! The goal is for cities like Beijing to have 2.5 million smog-free bikes in the near future, which will reduce pollution by between 5 and 15% in just two years.
And what would happen to all that filthy matter collected by the filters? They can be turned into all manner of things, like jewelry! Smog rings contain compressed air pollution inside a transparent cube. They’ve even been used as wedding rings. Who knew a bicycle could do more than just get you from A to B, smog free?
Have you ever wished you could drive down Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road in real life? There are some solar paneled roads that are the closest thing to fulfilling your Nintendo dreams.
Called Solar Roadways, they possess intelligent LED lights which illuminate the night, but they’re not just glorified Christmas decorations! They’re used for clearer visibility and signage, but this isn’t all they can do. The panels themselves are able to generate clean, renewable energy through solar power, which can be sent to the grid.
In fact, there’s potential for these roads to replace the national grid! A cable corridor that runs alongside the road can store utility lines, is safe from power outages, and is easier to access than cables run between the tops of 100 ft poles.
Asphalt and concrete roads may be a thing of the past soon enough because the maintenance of Solar Roadways is incredibly low. No more annoying potholes to contend with, or repainting faded lane lines.
Even ice and snow can’t stick to the surface because its state-of-the-art heating system maintains the panels at a temperature above freezing. Tanks beneath frost lines can collect rainwater from the paneled roads, ready to be recycled or transferred to water treatment plants!
What if I told you there was a swing that was designed for children and parents? Adults can feel the absolute joy of being a child again while swinging with their own little ones. If more parks had these swings, you best believe the adults would be fighting over who got there first.
It would also encourage more parent and child interaction since both seats are facing forward. It was designed this way to enhance children’s sensory skills and promote the experience of having them recognize and watch their parent’s facial expressions! It’s also far superior to having to stand there and push all the time; it makes the playground just as much fun for parents.
Wastewater Filter Nets
Pollution in our waterways is one of the saddest things to witness firsthand. Not only does it eventually come back to hurt us, but it also harms the wildlife that has to deal with discarded, single-use plastic and general trash thrown into it without a second thought.
Fortunately, a city in the land down under has found a way to reduce the rubbish in its waterways with a single nifty invention. The Australian city of Kwinana has been fighting water pollution with drain socks, which are fitted over drainage pipes.
They act like a giant sieve, preventing waste and garbage from entering the water, and keeping the reserve clean and safe. In just six months it collected over 800 pounds of rubbish from two installed nets.
During these months, they’re cleaned three times to keep the waste from overflowing, and when enough has been collected the garbage is separated. Some of this debris can then be taken to a recycling center, which turns it into fertilizer.
These nets aren’t immediately harming the wildlife either, as there have been no reports of animals getting stuck inside. And one of the best things about them, they only cost $20,000 to implement. In the grand scheme of things, these nets are a very cost-effective way of cleaning up waterways and stopping contamination from happening in the first place.
Compare that to the cost of cleaning up an entire ocean of plastic, which at this point would cost somewhere in the region of $90 billion! When you put it like that, it really is a small price to pay!
DAF Electric Refuse Collection Truck
Handling your own trash is nasty, let alone other people’s trash, which is why you should respect your local trashmen! Hauling everyone’s trash around all day can’t be easy or fun. But luckily, there’s a new electric truck in the city of Rotterdam designed to reduce their smelly load and keep the environment clean!
The DAF electric garbage truck uses a mechanical claw to grab hold of trash cans on the ground, lift them up, and dump their contents into them. It’s more efficient than a regular garbage truck and can recharge to 80% battery capacity in only 30 minutes.
With 170kWh of energy, it can cover regular collection routes with no problems. It has a steered trailing axle which allows for sufficient maneuverability, meaning that it can navigate busy, urban areas with ease.
It’s also capable of taking on a 30-ton payload and further proves its worth with its eco-friendly emissions. Compared to a normal garbage truck, it uses 30% less energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 50%, and is also 20% less expensive.
Bright Street Lights
Have you ever been stuck at a junction, unable to see the teeny tiny traffic lights in the distance? Over in Ukraine, several main streets don’t have this problem thanks to some LED lights.
They’re applied to the entire traffic light pole and used to increase visibility for those in the back! In adverse weather conditions, like storms or fog, they make it much clearer to see whether it’s time to stop or go, which, in adverse weather conditions, can save lives!
Equally as clever, some street lights in the Netherlands and South Korea are designed specifically for smartphone users. All too often, the roads are being crossed by people glued to their screens, which can cause accidents. So to combat this, these lights have been fitted into the ground. Now, you can notice the color change without looking up.
Over in India, Thailand, and other places, lights have been installed to prevent impatient drivers from dangerously running red lights. They count down the seconds you have to wait until you can go, which is a genius little trick that has probably put a number of drivers at ease.
Transit Elevated Bus
Tired of delayed public transport? Tired of sitting in traffic? Tired of sitting in traffic on delayed public transport? China might just have the solution to all three of those problems, with its state-of-the-art, highly anticipated Transit Elevated Bus!
First unveiled back in 2016, models demonstrated how it would allow cars to drive underneath its elevated compartment while its wheels would run on tracks laid in the unused space between the lanes. This would mean passengers could skip over highway queues without adding to them.
Tested in a trial in 2016, its 25 ft width was more than enough space for two lanes of traffic to pass beneath. And with a length of 72 ft and space for 300 passengers, this mechanical beast was set to be the biggest thing on the road! It was even projected to reduce congestion by up to 30% and could replace up to 40 standard buses!
However, after the inaugural 980 ft test of the Elevated Bus, in the city of Qinhuangdao, Hebei, the project was promptly shelved. Questions regarding its safety arose, with 32 individuals arrested regarding the legality of how it was funded.
Since then, the TEB has sat abandoned and gathering dust in the middle of Qinhuangdao, ironically creating congestion. Maybe this might be viable in the future once they iron out the safety issues? Because honestly, riding in this thing would be bussing!
If you were amazed at these ingenious ideas, you might want to read our whole series about genius inventions that should be everywhere! Thanks for reading!