This story occurred when I was taking real-life case studies to schools. The product was a set of sounds that a user could download to their mobile and insert into phone conversations.
The company had various prototypes set up such as a fart machine, each fart was a different type (I will let you imagine that!). The teens absolutely hated the farts apparently finding them boring and obvious.
Off they went into groups where I lead them through the innovation cycle, brainstorming ideas and deciding which idea to prototype. I encouraged one particular group to think about how they could use sound functionality in a truly useful way.
The best idea that surfaced was a package of sounds for excuses. The user scenarios they described included: running late for school, being late home keeping parents waiting up and so on. The sounds they suggested offering included: busy road sounds with engines and sirens to clearly represent being stuck in traffic; doctors surgery sounds, “Mr. Smith to see Dr. Jones in Room 1, up the stairs to your left.”
Lateral, practical and lots of nodding heads in the classroom – they wished it was available now.