#InventorsMonth: What I wish I could invent during the COVID-19 pandemic
Updated: Aug 23, 2020
I loved playing scientist as a child. Once, when I was about six or seven years old, our Mom threw away some expired bottles of children's cough and colds medicines.
Secretly, I took them from the trash bin and created a "lab" in our backyard. Wearing Mom's apron, I mixed the liquids and invented new "medicines." Thankfully, Mom saw me and scolded me before I could test them on anyone.
Still, my dream of becoming an inventor never faded. This might be the reason why I always experiment in the kitchen.
I always think of different ways of cooking different ingredients. My chicken and pork adobo has Cabernet Sauvignon , oyster sauce, and sesame oil aside from the usual soy sauce. My shrimp sinigang is "deconstructed." I cook the shrimp, sampaloc soup, and vegetables in separate pots and pans before assembling the ingredients in a serving bowl.
However, I want to invent more than just new food dishes.
This August, Inventor's Month, I thought of listing down what I wish I or other people could invent if we had the resources and technical know-how.
As we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number one thing I wish experts could create is a cure or vaccine against COVID-19 and other deadly diseases. But aside from these, I wish for the following:
(1) A multi-functional digital door lock that can:
check your temperature and make quick health scans;
remind you about your appointments, and
alert you when there's something wrong at home (such as a stove left on by accident).
The door lock device, the size of a mobile phone, can be installed at the entrance door.
All who will go in or out the house will go through a quick health scan and temperature check as they pass by the device.
Those with a temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius or higher will not be allowed to go in or out the house.
The homeowner can also set other criteria for their own personal monitoring of their health situations, ie. blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, and so on. I wish someday these could be checked easily using mobile phones paired with devices such as the multi-functional digital door lock.
(2) A digital shopping bracelet that can:
store shopping lists
detect the items once the user is in the store
give out voice reminders such as "one box of Twinings lemon and ginger tea" or "one can of Illy ground coffee."
I thought of this because during the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Metro Manila, only one person was allowed to go out of the house to buy essentials.
The husbands were usually the ones who went out to buy groceries and there were so many hilarious posts on social media about the "stealth grocery mission" of husbands.
Smart Parenting said, "Willing na willing naman ang mga tatay—kahit ano talaga basta para sa pamilya. 'Yun nga lang, pagbalik mula sa grocery o sa drug store, kalahati ng inilista ni mommy ay wala o 'di kaya ay mali ang nabibili nila."
(3) A shopping robot. The shopping bracelet idea might also work on a robot. Supermarkets and grocery stores should have shopping robots that shoppers can rent for a reasonable fee, ie. P300 per hour or a fraction thereof. The shopper can Viber or PM the list to the robot which will accompany him or her while shopping. The robot can lead the way to the right grocery aisles to find the needed items.
(4) A teaching robot. I wish there were robots that could be dropped off by planes to far-flung communities that teachers could not reach. Teachers can teach remotely through these robots.
(5) A medical robot. If there are teaching robots, I wish there were also robots that can provide emergency medical care either in hospitals, clinics, or again, far-flung areas that doctors cannot reach.
The use of robots may help overworked medical personnel who can delegate non-critical tasks to robots.
(6) Affordable and healthy, "gourmet" organic food. One of the things that sadden me during the COVID-19 pandemic are news reports about people going hungry after losing their jobs or businesses.
Some people have been relying only on instant noodles or cans of sardines. I wish food manufacturers could work with top chefs to create delicious and healthy instant foods that can be easily bought or shared by humanitarian organizations.
Staying healthy is essential during the pandemic. How I wish everyone would have access to good-tasting and healthy foods, even if they are instant foods or canned goods.
(8) Cheap, Lego-like houses or isolation facilities made from recycled trash. I have also been deeply affected by news reports about homeless people, including LSIs (Locally Stranded Individuals) who want to return to their hometowns after losing their homes in Metro Manila.
I wish housing wasn't so expensive in Metro Manila because everyone deserves to have beautiful and decent housing.
As communities produce tons of trash each day, I wish all cities and towns had a recycling plant that can convert the trash into beautiful, sturdy and large Lego-life pieces, the size of hollow blocks, that can be used to build houses for the poor or even isolation facilities for those stricken with COVID-19.
(9) Health wristwatch straps. I recently bought a Philip Stein watch with Natural Frequency Technology and a Philip Stein Sleep Bracelet. These wellness devices have been a great help to me. Before using the Sleep Bracelet, I often had trouble sleeping, sometimes having two to four hours of sleep only. These days I sleep six to eight hours at night.
I wish my other watches also had a wellness feature. Perhaps a wellness device can be embedded in wristwatch straps that can be used on any watch.
(10) Expandable phones. I know that there are foldable phones already but I'm not sure if there are expandable ones -- phones that can transform into the size of a tablet so that they can be comfortably used for Zoom meetings, e-learning, or watching movies or dramas on Netflix.
Mobile phones are easy to carry but they can be too small for other purposes such as online learning or binge-watching.
For now, these are the items on my Gadget Wishlist. I'll keep thinking of new things I hope to see. As American painter Helen Frankenthaler said, "There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about."