Sometimes the best ideas emerge when you’re faced with a problem. Here are three familiar concepts repurposed to create something new, exciting, and profitable. Look around: What other products have potential to become something new?
01 Urban Farming Inside Shipping Containers
You’re already familiar with the sight of shipping containers on trucks, taking fresh produce to stores. But what if containers grew food instead of merely storing it? Young Brooklyn farmers have started growing nutritious greens in shipping containers, without ever needing to be hauled around. Each farmer at Square Roots grows greens without pesticides, and the hydroponic growing systems use 95 percent less water than traditional farms. As well as growing their food, Square Roots teaches young people how to farm more sustainably.
“Younger generations are interested in making sure that we’re all eating healthy food that’s nutritious and grown in sustainable ways,” says Tobias Peggs, CEO of Square Roots. “These cool, high-tech farms enable anyone to come in and learn how to grow food right in the middle of the city.” In many countries, the average age of a farmer is over 50, and by 2050, 68 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas. Opening up farming to non-traditional young farmers could help meet the food demands of a growing urban population.
02 A Wristband that Tells You What to Eat According to Your DNA
This wristband tells you what food to buy in stores based on your DNA. It scans barcodes and works out which products are best for you and what to avoid. “The whole objective of DNANudge is that we’re not telling people they can’t eat biscuits and should instead eat grapes,” says Professor Christopher Toumazou, CEO and co-founder of DNANudge. “They can eat biscuits, but eat better biscuits — based on your DNA and lifestyle. It uses biology to judge you, then guides you through more choices that result in a healthier lifestyle.” Cofounder, Maria Karvela (below), a biologist, geneticist and leukemia researcher created the world’s first database to map genetic traits to food and drink ingredients.
Toumazou invented the smart band after his son Marcus was diagnosed with a condition causing his kidneys to fail. He became determined to find a way of predicting hidden health risks, so he invented a microchip that can read DNA. His company analyzes DNA from saliva, and the data is stored on a chip embedded in a wristband. The wearer still decides what to eat, but making small swaps each day could have positive long-term health benefits. “I’ve got the gene for hypertension,” says Toumazou. “So, I’ve got to be wary of salt. I now know that there is less salt in salted peanuts than dry roasted peanuts. I love peanuts, so over a year, I could potentially save 4.5 lbs of salt from entering my bloodstream.”
03 The World’s First Two-story 3D Printed Building
Dubai Municipality has completed the first two-story building constructed entirely with a 3D printer. It was built with 50 percent less workforce and 60 percent less construction waste than traditional buildings. The process is also cheaper and quicker than conventional methods. The 3D printer layers fluid according to a plan preset by a computer, which sets into concrete almost instantly. The building was “printed” on location, despite challenging weather conditions, using local materials, and includes curved architecture that is especially hard to print.
The building has already entered the Guinness Book of World Records but is not the only place to have explored the potential of printed structures. In France, Nantes is experimenting with making affordable housing, and a French family is the first to live in a 3D-printed house. Relief agencies are also looking to re-build communities hit by natural disasters. Dubai now aims to construct 25 percent of all future buildings using 3D printing methods.