We have the British to thank for exporting some of our favorite shows of the last five years...Trading Spaces, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, and even American Idol started out as UK TV fare. Looks like we've returned the favor, as Sky (a British broadcasting network) is doing a version of American Inventor entitled "The Big Idea".
Basic premise is this: Three judges each choose 12 contestants from all of the entrants using criteria like market viability and the sheer determination of the inventor. Each week, each judge gets to pick two of their contestants to go head-to-head in presenting their product to the studio audience, who votes a winner from the six. This happens for six weeks, after which the six winners, plus one wild card, then compete in a live show this Saturday, November 25, to see who gets to walk home with 100,000 GBP to fund their invention.
Without further ado...here are your finalists:
Big Idea #1: The Bandi
(electrical plug removal assistance)
Frustrated by weakness in his own hands after a long-term illness, inventor Ian Davies developed these very simple plastic loops that fit around electrical plugs and give the elderly or those with arthritis something to grab and pull. They're even color-coded and can be written on, so you know which plug goes with what. Of course, you have to remember that plugs in the UK are about 4 times as big as ours in the US and are generally made with smooth sides...not like ours that have the grip built in.
Big Idea #2: The Katnapper
(get your cat into the carrying case)
Ever tried to get your cat into a travel basket to take to the vet or on a trip? Still have the scars to prove it? Inventor John Watling came up with a remarkably simple solution with the Katnapper. Think of it like catching a spider...you put the bowl over the spider and slide a piece of paper under...the Katnapper works the same way. Put the cage over kitty, and slide the tray under. The description says it has a way to prevent the tail from getting caught, but I'd like to see that in action.
Big Idea #3: The Skirider
(combo ski/scooter for people with joint problems)
Only in Britain will a product description include the phrase "it's a doddle to use" (I'm assuming that's good!). The Skirider was designed by inventor Andrew Hubert von Staufer (who also wins the award for best inventor's name) as a skiing option for people with joint pain. It's a scooter that skis, and unlike traditional ski gear, it doesn't restrain your feet.
Big Idea #4: The Cyclaire
(pull-cord pump system for bike tires, inflatables, etc.)
Inventor Julian Peck has come up with an alternative inflation technology, using a pull-cord system vs the traditional piston pump (or the good old-fashioned mouth). The pull-cord gives you a stroke length as long as you can pull the cord, vs the 12-15 inches of traditional pumps, so it fills whatever you're filling a lot faster, and with a lot less effort.
Big Idea #5: The Flexi Rest
(flexible cue mount for pool)
Talk about a targeted market. Did you know that there are 4 million snooker players in the UK...really?...snooker? I suppose they say the same thing about Cornhole. Anywho...Des Morley developed the Flexi Rest as a flexible support for your pool cue that lets you get out of all sorts of tricky situations on the green felt. His inspiration? A flexible IKEA lamp.
Big Idea #6: The Plaster Socket Template
(marker for drywall cutting)
Despite being the clear loser in the clever name department, the Plaster Socket Template, designed by Phil Green, seems to be the most universally useful of the bunch. The tool mounts to an electrical socket or switch and makes indents in the drywall so you know exactly where to cut the drywall to mount the socket. If you've ever tried to do this yourself, you know what a hassle it can be with a tape measure.
The videos of the inventors are definitely worth watching, because they're just average people who saw a need and went for it.
What's the next Big Idea? What other finalist makes the final show as the wild card? Who takes home the 100,000 GBP prize? We'll tell you next week. It will be a doddle, no doubt!