Thursday, July 22, 2010

Things That Should Be Invented

A few weeks ago Microsoft announced a new invention. They patented a special cartridge for batteries. It allows you to load batteries into a device either direction. No more — What the hell!?! — figuring out which side is positive, which side is negative. You put the batteries in either way and the power works. Microsoft is licensing this, which means if you want to use this invention you pay royalties.

Besides the obvious question — Why is Microsoft in the business of inventing and licensing battery cartridges? — there's an even more immediate reaction I had. You mean this was always possible?  What the hell? Why did it take this long to invent?

In that spirit, here are a few inventions I've been waiting for. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Microsoft.

Credit card swipe machines that don't care what side the magnetic strip is on. I always end up swiping it the wrong way the first time. And those helpful images that tell you which way to swipe — undecipherable! How much more expensive can it be to make a machine that swipes a credit card on either side?

An alarm clock that I can program the duration of the snooze. Every alarm clock I've had is either a  five minute snooze (too short!) or a nine minute snooze (too much math!). Let me program my own snooze. For your information, I want fifteen fat, luxurious minutes.

Better beeps. Almost any time you interact with some electronic gadget there are beeps. They register something happened. They're necessary to give feedback but they are painful. You swipe your card at the subway, the turnstile beeps. You punch in your pin at the ATM, beep beep beep beep. You work at a cash register, you get beeps all damn day, every time you punch a key. If you start listening to the beeps you'll realize that they are the most annoying pitch and tone imaginable. Contrast them to bells on old cash registers. Why did going digital mean we had to lose rich, interesting sounds? I know early computers might not have been able to handle great sound. But my ATM today can read  handwriting on a check — a brilliant invention that I didn't expect this year, thanks Chase! — so I know they can make a sweeter sounding beep.

Untangle-able power cords. Or how about power with no cords whatsoever?

Also: flying cars? They are a long expired promise that leaves many of us waiting for closure. Just say it GM. Or Tesla. Yes or no. 

1 comment:

John said...

On the card swipe thing, chipped cards are the future: