Inventions I'd like to see:
Solar / radiant heat rechargeable thermostat. Annoying to have to replace mine with a watch battery once every six months.
Dual-filament bulbs that only fire one at a time. First one burns out, second one still provides light (perhaps at reduced output?), but indicates it is in need of replacement somehow. Not necessarily needed for standard bulbs, but the recessed lighting in my current place needs this badly. Bulbs are expensive and I don't keep them on hand if I'm not going to need them. But when I do need them, I'd like to have a bit of notice to get them before I lose light in a certain area of my home.
Flux (brightness / color adjustment for OSX) for all lighting in the home. Adjust amount of lighting based on time of day.
Yeah, the space isn't useable, but that doesn't mean it isn't useful to the psychology of the human's occupying it.
In the US, the primary constraints on density tend to derive from land development regulations - particularly those relating to parking (non-surface parking is expensive), direct limitations on density (dwelling units per acre) and limitations on overall floor plate area (floor area ratio).
Overall building height is somewhat uncommon as a constraint on density and tends to play less of a role than floor-area-ration in determining how much space can be built.
I've been working on a prototype for a switch that can turn off programmed areas in the apartment to help save electricity and subsequently Mother Earth.
On my way out my apartment - I hit this one switch, and everything programmed cuts off. It's not enough to just turn off appliances and various devices but to disconnect them all together from the power source is even greater.
Electric Kill Switch AND ... a way to set the clocks on everything that have been disconnected once power is restored :)
There are often designated slots for devices you wish to stay on - no more or less unless daisy chaining power strips.
It's a great step - but I know we can do better.
I had a smoke detector on a high ceiling (roughly 14ft high) that was defective - if the temperature got below 68 degrees, it would go off, setting off all the other alarms in the house and probably waking up half my neighborhood. Since it was in the middle of the room, reaching it required a step-ladder that would allow me to reach 14 ft.
When I finally got access to a ladder, I just took the thing down for good and didn't bother replacing it - I figure the chance of me being injured by a fire that isn't detected by that one detector is roughly the same (or even less than) the chance of me getting hurt while climbing up to service it every few years.
As a side note, preferred practice - and the current NEC [NFPA 70] requirement - is to hardwire smoke detectors to the electrical service with the battery serving only as backup. This significantly extends the time between battery replacements.
I'd put one on kickstarter but they don't sell Americium to just anybody. Yeah, they require Americium to work.
Grid power would be ideal but most homeowners don't have conveniently-located wall sockets for this purpose. I suppose there's nothing stopping from me taking an off-the-shelf unit, installing a NiMH 9V, and adding the panel.
In addition, solar panels have their own increasingly complex electrical requirements due to the unique life safety risks they present, i.e. they cannot be readily deenergized during daylight hours. In situations involving emergency response personnel, pulling the service meter or throwing a main breaker does not eliminate the risk of electrocution. Likewise, during routine building repairs and maintenance portions of the electrical service are likely to remain live.
A 9V battery can't be readily deenergized during daylight hours either. At a storage capacity of 5 kWh and a lifespan in service of approx. 360 days, we can guesstimate a daily power consumption of ~14 watt-hours. If placed outdoors in the midwest, the solar panel would need to be about the size of a DVD. There's often little in terms of light that hits a smoke detector but between natural and artificial light there's more hours of light hitting it. I'd estimate a typical household could get by with something twice the size.
Dunno about you, but I think there's more to fear from a 9V battery than a solar panel that size, esp. with the whole thing comfortably sitting on the wall.
If the idea is to create solar powered smoke detectors as a market disruptor, then it's a non-starter because they do not meet current code requirements for primary and secondary power supplies.
In an alternative case, homebrew electrical installations are why building permits are required and construction by intuition is why building codes have existed since the time of Hammurabi.
Few homes have one smoke detector and thus using one larger panel has some attractiveness. With surplus capacity, why not throw some LED lighting on the circuit? Etc. etc. down to the turtle.
While one may or may not plug in a smoke detector, the point I was making was that the wiring and junction box were not in a convenient location for the typical homeowner.
The NEC also doesn't regulate portable, battery-powered devices. If I'm concerned about fire safety then I can get UL, TÜV, or similar safety certification for insurance purposes. Most solar battery powered nicknacks carry no such certification nor do they need any to be sold legally.
Thanks for the vivid account, but some of us choose not to believe that everything novel is a slippery slope toward the bronze age.
The regulations and requirements surrounding them are based on the experience of firefighters and after action analysis of fatal fires over the past 100 years.
The point I was making is that smoke alarms are unlike other devices which may appear similar to a lay person - i.e. smoke alarms are held to much higher standards than thermostats or the DVD's remote. Hence, the annoying chirping sound to alert one to the dead battery.
Ideas that my dwelling should be a certain way are driven by beliefs that I am stuck with it for an extended period of time.
I probably don't realize it's a pain yet but having a centralized 'dashboard' to control things like locking doors, tuning the heating system, controlling lights etc. could be handy.
In all seriousness, I think many of us struggle with noise - both external and internal.