Revenge by Gadget

Here’s another fairly old article, but highly amusing. Jennifer Saranow in the Wall Street Journal writes (08/17) about the various ways tech-savvy inventors are turning the tables on subway gropers, road-ragers, and incessant barking dogs, among other annoyances.

  • A luminescent screen that is mounted in a car’s rear window and flashes one of five messages to people behind at the driver’s command, including a smiley face, sad face, and phrases like "Back Off" and "Idiot." Apparently there’s been strong demand for obscene hand gestures as well.
  • A "No-Contact Jacket" that delivers a jolt of electricity to anyone who touches the person wearing it. This is intended to punish casual gropers on crowded subway cars.
  • The "Xcuse Box," which plays 10 one-minute "excuse tracks," including police sirens, thunderstorms, airport service announcements, and other noises designed to help you evade responsibility (or simply close communication) over the phone.
  • The "Outdoor Bark Control Birdhouse," which delivers an ultrasonic frequency to quiet barking dogs. Humans can’t hear it.
  • The "Beer Burglar Alarm," equipped with a motion detector that sets off an alarm if anything approaches within 12 inches. "Keepa da hands off ma beer," a big booming voice threatens.
  • "TV-B-Gone," a wireless device able to turn off loud or annoying television sets in public places, like the doctor’s office.

And there are others. MIT’s Media Lab is hard at work on a few of these, including the No-Contact Jacket. Check out the video below:

Not everyone is thrilled to see such "advances" in technology. "It’s becoming easier for people to imagine that technology is a conduit through which they will solve all their social problems," says (intimidating surname alert!) Christopher Csikszentmihalyi, director of the Media Lab’s Computing Culture group.

"In those petty cracks of life is where you can see the desire for revenge is alive and well," says Michael McCullough, a professor of psychology at the University of Miami.

Mm, yes, maybe so. But I’d love to get one of those Beer Burglar Alarms for that Publix brand Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt I love so much, just to keep Cassia from sneaking a scoop or two of it during the day.

2 Responses to “Revenge by Gadget”

  1. Wow. You make it sound like I’m not supposed to have it. Hmmm…

    By the way, that thigh/energy device is really disturbing!

  2. No, you can have some. Under close supervision, of course. We don’t want to consume it so quickly that we’re left with only four different cartons of ice cream in our freezer.


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