Last week I published, What new and useful idea have you posted today? The basic challenge is for everyone to post to the public internet a good idea for everyone to share, use and build upon. Since then I had the idea for a better burglar alarm. It is simple enough, but it would be more of a deterrent to someone prowling about a person’s home than just a motion detector turning on a light.

The device would have the sound of a barking dog instead of a warning light turning on. This dog inside the house would be sending a clear message to people in the house, even sleeping people, that something was disturbing the dog. That would warn a potential intruder that people were probably being warned of an intrusion, and they should take appropriate action. The intruder’s best course of action would be to go elsewhere for easier pickings. If there was a second disturbance of the motion detector the dog would take up an even more annoying bark for several seconds, and an external light could go on. After a third, or continuing disturbance it would continue barking, but would be followed with a gruff human male voice yelling, “Shut Up” or some similar command. With each following detection there could be a slight variation on the simulated dogs barks and human responses. It is an increasingly powerful message being sent to an intruder to back off. This whole system could be manufactured and sold as a plug-in package. There could be a large number of dog and human sounds as built-in options.

I proposed this system to some very successful computer friends of mine. I started off by saying that the proposal I am about to make may already exist, but I want to run it by you for your comment and feasibility for manufacture. Then I described the above system. My friend Rob said his father had built such a burglar alarm for their house years ago. What struck me was that the first person I mentioned this idea to was already familiar with it.

The valuable point of this little essay is that one can never know if an idea is new and useful until it is put out into the public consciousness. In this particular case this very simple idea didn’t go very far, but if I kept it to myself it would have gone nowhere at all, because it is unlikely that I would go to the trouble of trying to construct the system from available parts. Now that I know it is already in the public awareness, to some degree, it makes sense to publish it on the internet where other people can use the idea or build upon it with variations.

It is impossible to know where an idea will go after the public becomes aware of it.