Ideas Explained in Fewer Than 280 Characters (Part 5 of 5)
Ideas Innovation

Ideas Explained in Fewer Than 280 Characters (Part 5 of 5)

Ideas can be tough to wrap your head around. You might look at some of the amazing inventions and fantastic discoveries that have been made throughout history and get the feeling “Well, I couldn’t have possibly thought of that!”. But the truth is, you could have. See, the ideas didn’t start as the fully-developed, fleshed out, all-encompassing manifestations you see today. They started out as mere seeds. Sergey Brin and Larry Page didn’t immediately dream up a complicated algorithm so sort and index the entire internet…they just wanted to find things online easier! Dara Khosrowshahi didn’t envision a gigantic netowrk of cars linked through an app and a massive interconnected system…he just wanted to get a ride when he wanted to ride!

So, to remind you of this, we’ve taken what seem to be some of the most complex and intimidating ideas in existence and distilled them back down to their original forms. Don’t worry, it’s not going to be a large essay for each idea – in fact we’ve shortened them down to less than the length of a tweet --  280 characters -- if you can believe it!

  1. Hearing Aid

A built-in microphone records all the surrounding ambient sounds and converts them into electrical signals. These signals are then boosted and amplified and converted back into sound and played back into the ear with near-zero latency.

Miller Reese Hutchinson designed and invented the very first hearing aid in the year 1898. He was inspired by wanting to help out a friend who was left struck with deafness due to scarlet fever. He pioneered some of the first portable electronic devices. And he was also the inventor of the……..vehicle horn. Ironic, isn’t it?

2. Projector

An image signal is received from the input device which is converted into light and beamed onto a lens which magnifies it to the required size and projects it onto the surface in front. However, newer projectors even use lasers to directly beam the image outward without a lens.

The first ever projector was invented by Eadward Muybridge, an English photographer who extensively studied motion and light. And, yes, his whole life was just as strange as his name. His life may be the most shocking in this series. In 1860, he suffered severe head injuries in a stagecoach crash in Texas. But he managed to recover well. Then in 1874, he shot and killed Major Harry Larkyns who had become close with his wife, but was acquited by the jury, who cited it as a justifiable homicide. He went on to invent the projector soon after and is also known for his groundbreaking work on analyzing animal locomotion, where he captured over 100,000 images of animals to identify the intricacies of how they move.

3. VR (Virtual Reality)

The viewer wears an immersive headset which fully shuts out their outside vision and replaces it with a screen (or two, one for each eye). Immersive content is projected on this screen, and it can be viewed and interacted with using various forms of control such as a gyroscope, touch controls, or additional controllers.

The roots of VR go back far deeper than you think. If you had to guess when the first VR headset was invented, what would you say? 2010? 2005? 2000, at the most? No, in fact, the first ever VR headset was created in 1968 by an American scientist named Ivan Sutherland, along with his student, Bob Sproull. It was a gigantic contraption that was made up of many, many parts and hung from the ceiling. Within the insiders, it was referred to as the Sword of Damocles.

4. Thermometer

A conventional thermometer generally comprises a sealed glass tube, partially filled by a suitable liquid such as mercury or alcohol. When the thermometer surrounding the thermometer’s bulb heats up, the liquid in the glass tube expands and rises. Nowadays, there are even more types of thermometers such as digital and infrared thermometers.

Sir Thomas Allbut invented the first real medical thermometer in 1867. It was over six inches long and it would take upto five minutes to give an accurate result of the patient’s temperature. Sir Thomas was an outstanding academician as well and made immeasurable contributions to the fields of pathology, therapeutics, and pharmacology.

5. Lightbulb

The original lightbulb was a fascinating instrument. A filament of a metal with a very high melting point, generally tungsten, would be provided with an electricity current which would cause it to heat up so much that it would glow. It would be encased in a glass bulb filled with inert gases so that it doesn’t oxidise or degenerate.

We all know the legend of Thomas Edison and his invention of the lightbulb. But did you know that he tested over 3,000 designs across over 6,000 materials and plants for filaments for it before finding one that worked? If there’s one thing you take away from article, it should be Edison’s instantly iconic reply when asked whether he regretted the amount of time and attempts it took for this accomplishment:

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."


We hope you enjoyed this foray into the genesis of some of the most well-known ideas that ultimately changed our world. Being overwhelmed by the amount of thought and effort it seemingly takes to bring an idea to fruition can be one of the biggest barriers that stops people from venturing forth and working on new ideas. The aim of this article is to serve to break down this notion and allow for free, boundless thought and ideation. This is the final article in a new five-part series we created to help people move forward with their ideas at full speed and never look back. We hope you enjoyed this series – let us know which was your favorite idea and story in the comments below!