(Pocket-lint) – Human beings have all sorts of problems, some are worse than others, but we’re always coming up with new ideas and solutions to make our lives easier.
Some of these solutions are simpler than others, some are for problems you didn’t even know existed.
We’ve collected some brilliant designs from around the world that will certainly make you think.
Satellite’s hunting ocean waste
We all know there’s a problem with microplastic waste in the ocean. Now scientists from the University of Michigan are putting NASA’s satellites to work tracking the issue.
They’re using multiple satellites that are usually used to track wind and speed movement over the ocean and using that data to work out where microplastics are most likely to congregate as a result.
Do not disturb shopping baskets
If you love shopping, but hate being bothered by sales staff who are constantly trying to upsell you then this might be the perfect solution.
This shop has different baskets, one tells staff that you’d prefer not to be bothered, one says you might like help. The “need help” baskets are no doubt useful for people who want help but also don’t want to be a bother. A nice concept, whatever your preference.
A thumb drive with a capacity display
This might be the most first world problem solution you’re going to see on this list. This is a USB storage drive that has a built-in display on it.
That display shows how much storage space there is left without needing you to plug it in. We admit, that actually sounds useful. You can pick one up from Amazon if you agree.
The coffee chart
If you’re new to coffee then all the different types can be a bit intimidating.
This helpful chart from one coffee shop shows what you get for your money and makes choosing a lot easier without the hassle of having to ask someone.
Ceiling puzzles to keep you entertained at the dentist
This dentist knows how intimidated people can feel on visiting the dentist.
This one has cleverly installed a Where’s Wally (or Where’s Waldo) puzzle in the ceiling so visitors can be kept distracted/entertained while they’re examined. We suspect it might be a problem when going on a repeat visit though.
A pen that tells you how many pages you can write
If you enjoyed the USB drive with the capacity gauge, then you’ll love this pen too.
A simple ink pen with a window on the side that lets you know how many more pages you can write before it runs out of ink.
A credit card tip jar
We really like the idea of this one – Dipjar is a credit card tip jar that lets you use your credit or debit card to leave a tip for staff when you don’t have enough cash on you.
We’d love to see this sort of thing popping up in more places so people get the gratuity they deserve.
Lockers with chargers
This device is clever for several reasons. Firstly, it’s a locker with various device chargers inside, so you can be sure your stuff is safe and nicely charged when you return too.
Secondly, this was located at a bar – so if you’re the sort of person that’s constantly losing your phone when you’re out drinking, then this might be the best drinking spot for you.
Plastic as payment
One major problem we have in modern society is the issue of plastic pollution. Greenpeace estimates there are 12.7 million tonnes of plastic in our oceans and we aren’t doing enough to recycle our waste. There are some interesting solutions to these sorts of problems, one of the most eyebrow-raising of which actually started in China several years back.
In 2013, an initiative began which saw the installation of special machines in the various subway stations in Beijing. These machines allowed travellers to pay with plastic. Passengers could deposit plastic bottles and received credit towards their subway fares. A simple, yet effective way to encourage people to recycle.
Dial 68 for bedtime stories
When one Redditor checked into their hotel room, they got a nice surprise when they discovered the room’s landline had a special number he could dial for bedtime stories.
This was at a Moxy Hotel, a funky new hotel that also had a guitar and phonograph in the room and a welcome cocktail on arrival. We’re not sure where it’s located, but we’d like to stay there.
Another pollution system is Seabin, this is a gadget that works as a drain by collecting any rubbish on the water’s surface and stopping it from moving onwards into the sea.
Although not encouraging recycling, it’s certainly a great way to help cut down on the problem and remove waste from our waterways.
We all know how much children love playing in puddles. These clever bods at a preschool in Japan have designed the building in such a way that they get indoor puddles without all the muddy mess of the outside world.
So kids can play until their hearts are content but without getting covered in mud. Though that is half the fun isn’t it?
A customisable cash machine
This bank’s ATM lets users choose which denomination they want their bills in.
Depending on how much money you’re getting out you can choose what size bills you get. Brilliant if you have a particular use in mind and don’t want huge bills that shops will have trouble changing.
Try before you buy
There’s a Dutch Supermarket known as Jumbo that has a selection of toilet rolls on offer in its facilities.
These toilet rolls are available to buy in the store, giving you the chance to try before you buy. Not something you’ll usually get the chance to do.
Bathroom privacy tunes
To save user’s modesty, this smart toilet in Japan has a privacy music system that can be used to play music so no one can hear what’s happening.
It’s an intelligent dignity saver and a brilliant modern solution to an age-old problem.
Petrol pump problems
In Seoul, South Korea, they have a brilliant solution to petrol pump problems. The pumps hang from above where you park your car, so you don’t need to worry about which side your petrol cap is on, you can simply park, grab and get pumping without a fuss. Simple genius.
Rental car reflections
This smart driving solution comes in the form of a reflection on the driver’s window. A sticker on the dashboard of a rental car reminds foreign drivers what side of the road they should stick to by simply reflecting a sign into their eye line. Clever stuff.
This shop sign has two settings “open” and “nope”. All the owner has to do is slide the N to the other end when they’re open or closed. Brilliant and amusing too.
A biker’s jacket with safety lights
Safety first! This biker’s jacket has cleverly got some lights built into it that shows when they’re braking or turning.
Yes, they already have lights on their bike, but we admire the extra safety measures.
A dual-purpose water fountain
This public park has a water fountain that’s cleverly designed so the overspilling water can be drunk by man’s best friend. It’s a water fountain for both dogs and people. Genius.
An indoor pooch toilet
Another modern solution to a first world problem, this is a dog bathroom that’s located at an airport. It has spots for dogs to do their business indoors. Everyone’s got to go some time.
Extra elevator buttons
This lift has extra buttons that you can press with your feet if your hands are full/busy. A brilliant and convenient solution if you’re carrying shopping bags, holding onto a small child or just in the middle of travelling and don’t have free hands. Also good if you’re averse to germs.
Winter simulation room
If you’ve ever bought clothing in the shop but not been sure if it’s good enough to do the job, then this special room in a shop might be the solution.
It’s essentially a cold room that works as a winter simulator. Don the coat or other outwear then step inside to experience freezing conditions.
Another shop with a brilliant shopping solution. This is a special test ramp that allows you to test out different safety shoes and boots on offer before you buy so you know how much grip you’re getting and what they’ll be like to wear as you work.
This bathroom has a panel that you can wave your hand at to open the automatic door rather than having to touch a germ-ridden door handle. Hygienic genius.
A touch-free bathroom door
Public washrooms are potentially awash with germs. Sure you might have washed and dried your hands, but what about the hundreds of others who have passed through that door?
If you have clean hands and touch the same handle, you might as well have not washed them in the first place. This simple design gets you to use your wrist instead – for hands-free, germ-avoiding opening.
Photocopier with a browser
This photocopier has a built-in browser so you can surf the web while waiting for your photocopying or printing to finish. Of course, that’s probably not what you’re meant to use it for, but come on, who wouldn’t?
A hockey button
This Canadian TV remote control has a dedicated hockey button so sports fans can get right to the action
Tyre wear indicators
This tyre has a special (yet simple) wear indicator built into it that gives you an idea of how much legal tread is left. A great way to see at a glance when tyres need replacing.
Self-esteem support picture
Feeling a bit low? Suffering from terrible self-esteem? Maybe this bathroom picture will help. Instead of a mirror, this bathroom has an encouraging message for you instead.
Short story printer
This is a nifty little machine discovered at an airport that allowed travellers to print out free short stories to keep them entertained while they wait for their flights.
Redditors imagined the hilarity that might ensue if at another airport they had a machine that let you write stories to pass the time (then they printed at the other end).
This school library has a warning system that lets people know when there’s too much noise being made in the library. Easier than having a librarian shushing people constantly.
Water bottle map
This is a nifty little water bottle that has a map of the college it’s distributed at as well as small water symbols to let users know where it can be refilled around the campus. Hydration is important.
Surprise vending machine
Ever had trouble deciding what drink you want from a vending machine? If so, then this drinks dispenser might be built just for you. There are no options other than “surprise”. At just 35 cents per can, you can’t really go wrong, unless you hate surprises?
An elevator capacity gauge
You know those signs in elevators that say things like “the maximum capacity of this elevator is 20 people” and you wonder how 20 people could even fit in there? Well, this is a more useful gauge of how many people is too many.
Hotel room mini bars are so old hat. This modern hotel room has a shower beer fridge dedicated to drinking and showering, because what’s more relaxing?
Pavement traffic lights
A modern solution to a phone-obsessed society. This pavement has traffic lights built into it to let pedestrians know when they can cross the road without having to look up from their phones. We suspect it’s more of a safety idea than a convenience one and one that really shouldn’t exist, but it’s still neat.
In Australia, brush fires are a serious problem. They have a system to let people know when there’s danger or particular risk in order to help avoid fire-based disasters.
Ever opened your window or door to check to see if you’ve parked properly in a parking space? We’re fairly sure everyone has. This car park has made life easier for everyone by continuing the lines onto the nearby wall so drivers can see where the spaces start and end with ease.
Blood bank gauges
There’s a spot where you can go and donate blood. At one blood bank, they have clever digital gauges where you can see how much blood of each type the bank has. This is a great way to get people donating.
Socially distanced escalator
In an effort to keep people socially distanced at the mall, this place has painted spacing between each step to give a decent gap and keep people safe.
A clever solution for a Covid world.
At this bike park, users get the bonus of having a little rooftop cover for their seats. If it rains you’ll come back to a drier seat and a much nicer ride home. Assuming it isn’t still raining when you leave of course.
Solar powered paddles
This clever bod obviously finds paddling too much effort. To make life easier they’ve constructed solar-powered paddles to paddle automatically. Genius.
Shirt with built in spectacle cloth
This Redditor discovered their shirt had a built-in spectacle cloth sewn into it.
For a glasses wearer, this is simple and genius. Now you can keep your glasses clean with ease while also not worrying about scratching the lenses.
Skateboard storage rack
This University has plenty of people attending who travel by skateboard. Rather than having them scattered about the place, they’ve installed a storage rack. Locks mean users also can be sure their boards will be safe while they’re busy learning too.
Writing by Adrian Willings.