Need creative inspiration? Look to inventor Pep Torres' Museum of Ideas and Innovation in Barcelona

The human-powered vending machine invented by Mr Pep Torres. To get a food item, one must work off the calories first on the attached stationary bike.
The human-powered vending machine invented by Mr Pep Torres. To get a food item, one must work off the calories first on the attached stationary bike.PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

You're late. You snoozed the alarm one too many times, and now have to rush to work. 

When you leave the house, you're dismayed to find that it's pouring. The umbrella is useless. By the time you trudge into the office, you're bedraggled and your shoes are squishing wet. 

The day gets worse when you discover later that your lunch has disappeared from the pantry.

Frustrated? Three inventions on display at the Museum of Ideas and Innovation in Barcelona (Miba) in Spain could help prevent a recurrence of such a trying day. 

When it's time to get up, the Clocky alarm clock will jump off your night stand, run around the room, beeping non-stop - unless you chase after it to turn it off. Shuella, an umbrella for shoes, can come to the rescue on a rainy day. The fake mold anti-theft sandwich bag can safeguard your lunch. 

The Clocky alarm clock. Once it starts ringing, it also jumps off your night stand, runs around the room, and does not stop beeping until you chase after it and turn it off.
The Clocky alarm clock. Once it starts ringing, it also jumps off your night stand, runs around the room, and does not stop beeping until you chase after it and turn it off. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

Shuella, a stylish umbrella for shoes.
Shuella, an umbrella for shoes. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

The 600 sq m Miba is filled with more than 100 innovative ideas and inventions. The exhibits range from the wacky to the practical.

There are imaginary everyday objects and future gadgets, unique items built for sustainable living, stylishly designed products, as well as impractical absurdities and tongue-in-cheek creations that entertain more than they are useful. Some exhibits are prototypes, others are products that are already on the market.

"The museum is about making you think and giving you confidence, encouraging you to pursue your ideas," says founder Pep Torres, whose business card is a sheet of paper enclosed in a red capsule.

The Spaniard, who was in Singapore recently to speak on innovation at the Millennial 20/20 summit, is himself a long-time inventor and is involved in multiple fields.

"I am an inventor; I play music, guitar; I do magic, I design, I write. It's a Renaissance approach that makes creativity different," he tells The Straits Times. 

Mr Torres, who leads a creative studio and is working with the fashion industry to create digital fashion, has written several books on invention. He also holds patents and has designed a few hundred innovative objects. Among them: 

- Aphrodisiac bedsheets with a Viagra effect, built with nanotechnology.

- A patented dustpan comb to keep dust in dustpan.

- A washing machine called "Your Turn" that uses fingerprint recognition technology to ensure not the same person uses it twice in a row. So, a woman's lazy male partner might be forced to do some chores at home. The idea reflects Mr Torres' sense of humour: He came up with it when asked by a Spanish company to design an innovative Father's Day gift.

- A human-powered vending machine, which is attached to a stationary bike. Time magazine declared it one of the 50 best inventions of 2009. To get a food item of choice, one needs to pedal a certain distance to work off the calories first. "It's a funny way to tell kids that if you eat unhealthy food, you need to make up for it by doing sports or having a healthy lifestyle," Mr Torres says.

The human-powered vending machine invented by Mr Pep Torres. To get a food item of choice, one must work off the calories first on the stationary bike attached to the machine. Time magazine said it was one of the 50 best inventions of 2009.
The human-powered vending machine invented by Mr Pep Torres. To get a food item of choice, one must work off the calories first on the stationary bike attached to the machine. Time magazine said it was one of the 50 best inventions of 2009. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

Mr Pep Torres founded the Museum of Ideas and Innovation in Barcelona in 2011.
Mr Pep Torres founded the Museum of Ideas and Innovation in Barcelona in 2011. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

How does he come up with such innovative - and oftentimes crazy - ideas? "As a child, I was always opening things up, looking at what's inside. I was super curious. When something steals my heart, when I feel excited about something, I go for it. I don't let anything stop me," Mr Torres says.

It is this can-do and daring spirit that he hopes to spread to others through Miba, which seems like a nature progression in his varied career, which at heart is focused on creativity and innovation. 

At Miba, children aged five to 12 are invited to draw their ideas for what they think the world needs - and what would make their lives better. A Minimiba contest is held every month; three winners are picked and patents awarded "to the children - not their parents", he stresses. Prototypes are built and exhibited around the world.

Among the clever - and not all kiddish - ideas: 

- A mug with an embedded mirror and tissue dispenser for kids to clean off milk moustaches. 

A mug with an embedded mirror and tissue dispenser for kids to clean off milk moustaches.
A mug that has a mirror and tissue dispenser so kids can clean off milk moustaches. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

- A contraption to help kids serve water from heavy jars.

The Plis Plas Water help children to pour water from heavy jars.
The Plis Plas Water device helps children to pour water from heavy jars. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

- A gadget to cut the perfect slice of salami. 

The Salami Slicer.
The Fuet Slicer, which cuts thin slices of salami. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

- Smart shoes with cameras in the sole to help detect ants and little animals so you won't crush them.

The Smart Shoe, which has cameras in the sole to help detect ants and little animals so they won't be crushed.
The Smart Shoe, which has cameras in the sole to help detect ants and little animals so they won't be crushed. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

- A Wake Up Pillow that vibrates when it's time to get up - silently so your partner or others in the room can sleep soundly.

The Wake Up Pillow vibrates when it's time to get up - silently so your partner or others in the room can sleep soundly.
The Wake Up Pillow vibrates when it's time to get up - silently so your partner or others in the room can sleep soundly. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

Children with their inventions for which the Museum of Ideas and Innovation in Barcelona awarded them patents.
Children with their inventions for which they were awarded patents. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

"Children don't care about failure. They just do it," says Mr Torres.

"When you grow up, you become a coward. Adults love the idea of business success, to be the next whoever and whatever, but they do not dare to take the next step, to try new things and risk failure. To be creative is not to have good ideas, it's to be brave. You have to stay like a child," he says.

With Miba, which also runs educational programmes and workshops, he hopes to not just spark new ideas, but also provoke reactions and reflection, and inspire people to take the sometimes difficult step of pursuing their dreams.

"The museum is more an experience than a regular museum. It's about what you feel and experience," he says.

A giant structure epitomises this. Visitors are challenged to leap into the "unknown" - a enclosed metal slide that goes from the ground floor into the basement. "It's about overcoming fear. Jump in, even if you don't know where you're going," he says. 

Jump into the enclosed metal slide in the Museum of Ideas and Innovation in Barcelona to get from the ground floor to the basement.
The enclosed metal slide in the Museum of Ideas and Innovation in Barcelona takes visitors who dare to jump in, from the ground floor to the basement. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

 Three men walk on and off screen, looking and gesturing at you.
When you sit on the toilet at Miba, a video comes on: Three men walk on and off screen, looking and gesturing at you. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

In the toilet, a sign invokes: "Don't be shy to show your ideas". A sensor detects when you sit and a cheeky video plays: Three men walk on and off screen, looking and gesturing at you.

"All humans have the same creativity. It's about how we encourage them to make things come true, how we create ecosystems to help them," says Mr Torres.

He would like to light the spark and be a catalyst for ideas and innovation.

His dream vehicle is a travelling Miba "moveseum". "I would like to create a 'liquid', mobile museum. A pop-up museum in different cities, for six months each time. We will conduct contests, apply for patents. I would love to bring it here too," he says.

Coming soon: A Miba for Singapore?


Some inventions showcased at the Museum of Ideas and Innovation in Barcelona 

Cubic pillow with holes - so you can lie down and watch TV, and still be able to listen to the audio properly.

The Cubic Pillow has holes - so you can lie down and watch TV, and still be able to listen to the audio properly.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

Socks with serial numbers in pairs - so there's no confusion after a wash, over which ones pair together.

Socks with serial numbers in pairs - so there's no confusion after a wash, over which ones pair together.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

A solar-powered flower pot that can move around on its own seeking the sun.

A solar-powered flower pot that can move around on its own seeking the sun.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

A plate with a built-in mirror for dieters: It makes you think you're eating double the amount of food.

 It makes you think you're eating double the amount of food.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

Fluorescent dog food - so you don't step on poo accidentally.

Fluorescent dog food - so you don't step on poo accidentally.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

John's Phone by John Doe - all the anti-smartphone does is accepts and makes calls. Oh, and it comes with a phonebook - a paper one.

John's Phone by John Doe. All it does is to accept and make calls. It comes with a paper phonebook.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA

A mop with a microphone attached, for entertainment while you're stuck doing housework.

A mop with a microphone-on top, for moments of musical inspiration while you're doing housework.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF MUSEUM OF IDEAS AND INNOVATION IN BARCELONA