18 months ago I posted a design challenge that solicited suggestions on a raised food preparation surface for cooks who are outside of "normal". It turned out the original was for something that would be relatively inexpensive, rugged and adjustable. After a few months and a few dozen submissions it became clear that building a board that meets all three goals is difficult, but you can easily meet two of the goals. Picking rugged and relatively inexpensive, a prototype was constructed and it has veen an enormous success for its owner. (if you want one of these check out the link for the manufacturer as well as a formula for calculating the right height if you prefer building one yourself)
In the process we learned that the population who are mismatched to their kitchen countertop is very large.
Thanks to everyone who offered comments, designs and became involved in discussions.
Here is the next challenge - submit your designs for Crandall points
Cutting back on travel is one of the few areas where it is very easy to conserve energy and cut fossil fuel use with a minimum of pain. The problem is that most of the home and single seat office video conferencing stations I've seen have lighting problems.
One solution is to install a few light boxes, which are bulky and can be expensive. Can you build something that uses little space when not in use and costs under $100 per seat? Can the design be appealing enough that people will want to use it and improve the video quality of their video calls?
I have a crude prototype that uses a 105 watt compact fluorescent bulb. These are huge - a foot long and over a pound in weight - and put out about four times the light of an incandescent bulb of similar wattage. You can also find models with excellent spectral outputs for good video conferencing. 85 watt versions of this bulb are more common and can be had for under $30 each with sone hunting.
Mine is mounted on a sturdy table lamp base that was going to the dumpster. The harp and shade were removed as they don't fit and a translucent piece of cloth is hung between me and the lamp (a muslin fabric can work very well). There is a lot of light that is bounced from the walls and a bit of adjustment gives a good image in my room.
Light boxes are very bulky, but could give more uniform illumination over a larger area (perhaps not necessary) and depending on your situation you may need two lamps and possibly a third for fill (read about portrait photography)
Can you make something cheap and robust that performs well enough? The average airliner burns about 25 gallons of turbine fuel per seat for every 1000 miles flown. Something like this could save a lot of fuel if even a small percentage of business trips could be done with video. This would be an excellent way to take some moral high ground for issues like oil disasters as well as global warming.
Really low hanging fruit!
The other benefit is some people like watching the other person in a call. Two friends find this much more natural and desire it.