CHELSEA — The next big invention might be dreamed up by New Yorkers walking past a window of a Bed Bath & Beyond on Sixth Avenue.
This week, product designers from Quirky — a company that taps consumers to develop new items — are using the store window at 620 Sixth Ave. as a sort of communal workshop.
The invention company crowdsources the products they design by allowing everyday folks to suggest ideas for inventions and then shape them during the design and manufacturing process. People who contribute to a product can actually make money if it sells.
"It's pretty cool," Jordan Diatlo, a 26-year-old designer for the company, said as he sketched a "briefcase of the future" that focuses more on holding iPads than notepads. "There's an instant reaction. People are giving us ideas."
Passersby can suggest ideas on Twitter using the hashtag #QuirkyAtBBB and see their products designed in real time. People can also pose a problem and ask Quirky to design a solution.
On Tuesday, just after New Yorkers were rocked by the aftershocks of an earthquake, Twitter user @magoob wrote that the designers should make "[a]n earthquake proof china cabinet. Keeps the dishes from breaking."
Passersby could also write their ideas down on paper and hold it up to the window for designers to see.
People walking by were occasionally confused by the window, but generally liked the idea.
"I walked by here a few times this week and had no idea what was going on," said Ansheef Kahn, 30, who works in the neighborhood. "I'm going to tell them to invent a better bike lock. My bike was stolen last week."
Based in NoHo, Quirky has about 80,000 users who think up and refine their products. One of their best-selling items is the Pivot Power, a snake-like power outlet strip that changes shapes so you can fit bulky plugs into any of its outlets.
A manager at Bed Bath & Beyond said the product was flying off the shelves.
After going through a vetting process, the products designed this week could be on store shelves within a few months.
The designers will be in the store's windows until Sunday.