I'm going to confess to you all that I have a really bad back. I can throw it out at a moment's notice. Play boxing with my son, or taking a fork out of the dishwasher are all potential back land mines.
But for me the biggest back buster is high heel shoes. I know, women are insane for wearing stilettos, but I love the way nose-bleed shoes look. Alas, my back hates them.
So, it's little wonder that my interest was piqued when I got an e-mail from a source at entrepreneurial business school Babson College who told me a group of undergrad students has come up with a high-heeled shoe with a retractable heel.
Brilliant! And in this economy it seems like shoes are the only things selling. Did you see that one of the most purchased products in Cyberspace this past weekend was women's boots, up 203 percent in sales over last year.
I figured I'd talk to some of the students responsible for this brilliant fashion idea, and they ended up bursting my bubble a bit.
|A high-heeled shoe with a retractable heel (image by Jane Jung)
The students involved are taking undergraduate product design and development courses at Babson College, Olin School of Engineering and Rhode Island School of Design. The shoe innovation was basically part of a year-end project for some of these students and there are no concrete plans to bring the shoe to market, much to my chagrin.
I spoke with Jane Jung and Anna Slavin, business students from Babson, who were part of the project.
Jung told me she had an idea to stop carrying around flats and flip flops when she wore high heels, and the student team came up with a great concept -- high-heel shoes that transform into flats, addressing the perennial problem of feet that hurt after a night out in high heels.
"We don't think we're going to market it, unless the opportunity arises," Jung said.
I think there's an opportunity here. I would consider buying something like that to give my back a break.
The students are going to present their prototypes on Thursday at the Rhode Island School of Design's Chase Center Auditorium.
Here are some other interesting products the students came up with that will also be on display:
--A better carry-on suitcase that reduces the load on your wrist and features compartments with improved accessibility.
--An intelligent device that reduces vampire power consumption from regular home appliances, such as computers and TVs, when they are in "sleeping mode."
--An improved bicycle storage system that enables easy deployment and configuration for municipalities and companies.
--An easy-to-use cell phone, featuring a better-to-read display, an improved user interface, and ergonomic design.
--A better refrigerator, featuring round turning shelves and a new form factor.
--A system that facilitates in-home recycling, enabling the effortless separation, collection, and disposal of recyclable materials.
--An easy-to-use laptop power adaptor that accelerates the process of packing and unpacking the power cord and provides a better aesthetic solution.
All of these ideas sound promising, but these budding entrepreneurs got me thinking about whether they even ponder what's going on in the world outside the walls of academia.
Is the recession even on their radar screens?
"It hasn't come into play in our discussions," said Slavin. "The class is more focused on finding a problem and finding a solution for it."
Oh, if only life were that simple.