Saved by the bell?

We all know the grinding frustration of waiting in for an important delivery or service. Often one takes half a day off work because the company or tradesperson can only offer the vaguest of windows in which they may arrive, only for us to have to pop out into the garden or some other remote part of the house for five minutes and then miss their call.

In the UK alone, we are now purchasing approximately £3bn of consumer products online per week, meaning that nearly 1.5bn packages are sent out for delivery each year. The problem, of course, is that 35% of these packages do not reach the addressee – often because the courier calls and is missed, leaving only a 'We called but you were out...' message to signal their presence. This is more than an annoyance, of course. The time lost by waiting in for deliveries that never come is time that could be spent working or undertaking some other fruitful activity, meaning that missed deliveries also have a negative effect on the productivity of the country – as well as wasting the time and resources of the courier company. The Challenge The challenge this month, then, is to invent a doorbell that you simply cannot miss. The question is 'how?' The obvious solution, of course, is to make a doorbell so loud that you can hear it from anywhere in the house, garden or even halfway down the street. Of course, this brings its own problems, as the decibel level of such a device would need to be a threat to one's hearing in order for it to be effective. An alternative, of course, would be for the courier company to contact you directly in the event of you not answering the door. However, this is time-consuming, costly and potentially fraught with problems (lost numbers, wrong numbers. etc, etc). The solution we have in mind is one of those ideas that seems remarkably obvious when you hear it, but is nonetheless a simple and elegant solution to the problems outlined above. It is currently seeking investment via crowdfunding. However, there is nothing to say you can't do better. We look forward to finding out. -Solution- Solution to the August 2014 Coffee Time Challenge The solution to August's coffee time challenge of how to invent a doorbell that means you never miss a visitor comes from the UK in the form of the i-Bell. The i-Bell is a Wi-Fi enabled doorbell camera system that connects the front door to a smartphone, tablet or laptop. This gives occupants a bird's eye view of callers even when they aren't in the property. Thanks to the intelligent Wi-Fi technology, i-Bell is able to nullify common front door frustrations. From missing parcel deliveries, being forced to stay within earshot when expecting visitors or simply being wary of opening the door to strangers, i-Bell offers users complete control over their doorstep traffic. Whether residents are in the garden, at work, at the shops or even on holiday, the cutting edge camera and app allows occupants to see and communicate with house callers from anywhere, at any time. The exciting new product is the first of its kind to be manufactured in the UK. Featuring an internal rechargeable lithium battery, weather proof design, 1080p HD camera, voicemail, concierge service and cloud storage, i-Bell is packed full of high-tech features. With the smart home trend gaining momentum around the world, i-Bell is set to be a hit with tech savvy Brits wanting to make their homes as efficient as possible. Compatible with a complete range of operating systems including Apple, Android, Windows and BlackBerry, i-Bell can be used by anyone in possession of a smart device. With its sleek design and compact size, the gadget is a stylish yet understated companion to any front door.