Google Maps may be alleviating traffic. Have you ever used it to find the fastest route to your destination? Here’s how it works: you type in your destination, and as long as you allow the program to detect your current location (through the GPS in your cell phone, don’t worry, the FBI doesn’t monitor Google Maps as much as your nervous next-door neighbor might say), it will find a few different ways for you to go. The program monitors traffic patterns. It will tell you which of your selected routes is the fastest. You can choose a course that isn’t the fastest—if you like. You can even start driving and change course in the middle a few times and it will adjust to get you to your destination. The reason I suspect Google Maps may be alleviating traffic is because if a large number of people are using it, then they’re being directed to use roads they might not have used. If one person goes one way and another goes another way, then the problem of traffic is solved, even if it’s only solved for those two motorists. They don’t have to contend with each other because they’ve never met.
Amazon’s Kindle has unintentionally created a benefit to the music industry. People get sick of all the problems with reading a book on their Kindle device, so they throw their hands up in defeat and say, “I’d rather listen to _________!” Then the would-be reader fills in the blank with their favorite music. They pick up an iPod or iPhone and start listening. They connect to a bluetooth speaker and blast away the frustration. Or so I’ve heard.
Did you know there are electric toothbrushes set to two minute run-times? Yep. Certain kinds of electric toothbrushes will actually indicate when you should be done brushing. Two minutes is supposed to be an ideal amount of time for cleaning teeth, so the electric toothbrush will slow down or make a noise to tell you when you’re done. Some people have outsmarted the system and found a two minute song they like, then they brush their teeth to music. When the music’s over, they quit brushing, turn out the light, and go to bed without reading a single digital book.
In a similar way to the Kindle’s hidden benefit, the giant tablets McDonald’s introduced in their lobbies for ordering have convinced fast-food customers to branch out and find a place less fad-oriented. Instead of McD’s, they find a great restaurant such as Taco Time. It only takes seconds for the fast-food customer to realize there really is life beyond the burger. There is also quality of life outside the burger joint. Tasty Veggie Burritos are far more friendly to an artery than a beef sandwich.
And don’t forget the invention of the Modobag. The hidden benefit to this odd motorized suitcase contraption is that people who sit on a plane for eight hours can continue sitting as they make their way through the airport. Everyone in the world needs more time for sitting.