(Pocket-lint) - There are some clever designers and engineers out there. Beyond tech that you can buy to improve your life, there are also plenty of awesome gadgets in the real world which make a big difference to how you live your life.
We've collected some of the most interesting designs of gadgets and gizmos from everyday life, that'll make you wonder how you lived without them.
Shipping container homes
We're certainly a wasteful society, but there are designers and passionate people striving to make the world a better place by reusing materials and things in new ways. Recycling and repurposing. One example of this is homes made from disused shipping containers.
If you've ever nipped to the shops with your favourite four-legged friend then you might have wondered how safe (or happy) they were tied up outside.
In Denmark, they have an ingenious solution to this problem. These doggy dens prevent your pooch from being stolen and also have a built-in automatic disinfectant and cooling system. All this means you can do your shopping safe in the knowledge that your furry pal is safe outside.
The umbrella safe
This is a special umbrella storage unit that allows members of the public to store their umbrellas and lock them in place so no one else can make off with them. A key is required to remove them. Apparently, this sort of device is a common sight in Japan.
A re-purposed phone booth
With the advent of mobile phones, people rarely have a need for payphones anymore. This old phone booth has been converted into a convenient place to get some extra juice for your smartphone instead. A fairly nifty re-purposing of something old and obsolete.
A mirror that can tell you the weather
This hotel mirror is located near the elevators and tells you what the weather is like outside before you leave the building. Of course, you could just look out of your room window, but where's the fun in that?
A touch-free bathroom door
Public washrooms are potentially awash with germs. Sure you might have washed and dried your hands, but what about the hundreds of others who have passed through that door?
If you have clean hands and touch the same handle, you might as well have not washed them in the first place. This simple design gets you to use your wrist instead - for hands-free, germ-avoiding opening.
A modern phone booth
Libraries have always been a place for peaceful reading and quiet reflection. But in this modern age of always-connected smartphones, it's hard to avoid interruptions. That's where the "cone of silence" comes in. This is a special booth in an American library that allows library goers a private place to take (or make) a phone call without disturbing fellow library users.
Perhaps one of the simplest designs on our list but no less awesome. These are hexagonal crayons discovered by one Reddit user at a restaurant. The unusual shape is designed to help stop them from rolling off the table. Simple but effective.
Colourful elevator buttons
A brilliant colourful design appears in the elevators of UIHC Stead Family Children's Hospital. As well as numbering each floor (and providing braille) the designers here have assigned a colour and animal/object to each floor.
This means kids at the hospital will have an easier time of remembering what floor they're on when they need to get back to their room from elsewhere in the hospital.
An icy strip for keeping drinks cool
This nifty little strip of metal can be seen at some bars for keeping your drinks cool while they're not in use. Apparently, if you search hard enough you can find photos of people who pulled a Dumb and Dumber and licked it only to have the fire brigade come to rescue them.
Even the floor is educational
The flooring at the London Science Museum is educational. Take a close look and you'll see chromosomes starting back at you.
Mini-golf fish food
There's a lot to like about this image. Firstly it shows a mini-golf course on a pier, that's fairly awesome in itself. What's even cooler is the balls are biodegradable fish food. The last hole on the pier drops right into the ocean and provides sustenance to the local swimmers.
A multi-use door
This is an interesting door design for sure. This hotel room is designed in such a way that the door can shut off either of two different doorways. Weird and wonderful architecture. They say when one door closes, another opens. Not in this case.
Evacuation plan at floor level
At first glance it might look like this hotel's evacuation plan has just fallen off the wall and landed on the carpet, but it's actually purposely mounted at this level. Why? Because in the event of a fire (and lots of smoke) the best thing to do is to hit the floor and try to find an exit. This will keep you below the smoke as hot air rises, but how will you know where to go? Check this floor level plan to find the emergency exits!
Interesting seat storage solution
This university has a really cool, space-saving seat storage solution which allows you to pop unused chairs in the wall. It also gives easy-access to extra seating whenever it's needed.
This is Marty. He's a special safety robot employed by Stop&Shop supermarkets to trawl the aisles in search of spillages, debris or tripping hazards. Of course, he's probably a hazard himself, but a cool and useful one at least.