2009-08-20 / Sam Bari

‘Inventions’ not always practical, but at least they’re entertaining

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

Humans and animals alike have always found the stuff that comes from the weird brains of inventors nothing short of fascinating. Without a doubt, many so-called inventions cause us to question the wisdom of giving humans the ability to reason.

To think that the same organism that invented the wheel and the box also invented the mushroom peeler and the nose hair groomer is difficult to fathom. The last two items are testaments to God having a sense of humor.

Every time somebody says, “What will they think of next?” someone does just that. We haven’t addressed the weirdest and the worst in a while. So, after nanoseconds of extensive Internet research, I am delighted to give you, our faithful readers, who have been waiting for minutes with bated breath – the results.

The terms geek, nerd and camping traditionally do not spend much time in the same sentence. Until now, that is. The Orange Company just revealed its perfect invention for the geek and the nerd who want to venture out into the wild and experience nature with its solar-powered “tent of the future,” so to speak. The tent ensures that all geeky gadgets and electronics will function while the geeks and nerds enjoy their camping adventure.

Orange teamed with product design consultants, Kaleidoscope, to create a modern tent that harnesses solar energy to power gadgets and equipment via a wireless charging pouch. The tent uses a photovoltaic fabric to receive the maximum amount of energy directly from the sun throughout the day. The inventors even included integrated “glo-cation” technology to assist campers in finding their way back to the tent should they get lost. A mobile phone can send a text message to the tent, which will then cause the camp to glow so it can easily be seen.

The tent has a wireless control hub that illustrates the amount of energy generated, as well as the amount of energy consumed. A wireless Internet signal on a touch screen display and a heating system that kicks in at a pre-determined temperature are included for convenience and comfort. How we have survived so long without the ingenious non-camping-oriented camping gear is beyond my realm of comprehension. Nonetheless – I want one.

Unfortunately, the “tent of the future” is the highlight of our list of cool inventions. The balance of products now takes a serious nosedive.

Heading the list of really impractical, but entertaining inventions comes the “house that walks.”

The prototype apparently walked around the campus of the Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridgeshire, England.

The eco-friendly house is powered by solar cells and miniature windmills, and comes with a kitchen, a composting toilet, a system for collecting rain water, one bed, a wood stove for CO2-neutral heating, a rear opening that forms a stairway entrance and six legs.

A collaborative effort between MIT and the Danish design collective N55, the house walks about five kilometers an hour – similar to the walking speed of a human.

The house can turn, move forward or backwards, change height as required, and can be programmed with GPS waypoints for traveling to destinations. This intriguing invention brings new meaning to the term, “She took my house in the divorce.”

Then we have “digital BBQ tongs” to tell the temperature of meat through an LED display, and an item called a “dollar stretcher” that can literally stretch a dollar up to 14 inches without tearing it. I believe there are laws limiting its use.

Following these ingenious inventions, we bring you “the popcorn fork.” Hey! I’m just the writer. Don’t blame me for this weird stuff.

The fork is for people who dislike the greasy texture of popcorn on their hands. This multi-functional tool comes with a cap on the end that doubles as a saltshaker. Fortunately, it is not available in stores anywhere.

I refuse to give an overabundance of ink to the following items: The “high five simulator,” and an apparatus for “kicking your own butt.” The latter item is for those who have the need to fulfill the old saying, “I could just kick myself.” If you don’t believe that the last two items exist, look them up on the Internet. The inventor actually reveals his name.

The last item is named “bowlingual,” and it helps dog owners understand their pet’s language by analyzing and interpreting their bark.

And you wonder why we live in a system we can’t understand.

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