Underpants that give you feedback on how well you are exercising your butt muscles; super-thin tooth sensors that tell you when it’s time to see your dentist; food containers you can eat to cut down on wasteful packaging; dog simulators that lower your blood pressure when you pet them; synthetic alcohol that gives you a buzz but doesn’t give you a hangover; electro-pants that charge up your cell phone every time you stick it in your pocket; a shut-up gun that utilizes delayed auditory feedback to render loudmouths and conversation hogs mute.
Recently, The New York Times ran a front-page story with the headline “Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow.” Many readers were frankly skeptical that these amazing innovations, like the ones above, were in the works. You can look up the article in question yourself, or tune in here next week, to find out which of the so-called innovations are real and which of them are fake.
For the moment, however, let’s go through these exciting innovations one by one and explore their practical uses, and see if we can deduce whether they are legitimate inventions by humble and obscure benefactors of the human race or crazed fantasies straight from the fevered imagination of someone like Richard Burwash, the world-renowned polymath who, for a number of months, was in the employ of the erstwhile innovative mayor of West Valley City and current indefatigable candidate for Salt Lake County mayor, the honorable Mike Winder.
- Underpants that give you feedback on how well you are exercising your butt muscles.
These analytical undies were developed by a Finnish company called Myontec, and have electromyographic sensors woven into the fabric. They are obviously geared toward bicyclists obsessed with their physiological performance, who already zoom all over the city in form-fitting spandex panties and would naturally welcome the gentle sensation of electrical pulses in their nether regions.
- Super-thin tooth sensors that tell you when it’s time to see your dentist.
It’s not yet clear whether you will be alerted by a persistent beeping noise, the hectoring pre-recorded voice of your dental hygienist or flashing lights and sirens howling along your molars. Perhaps there will be different alarms for different conditions, whether plaque, dental caries or halitosis.
- Food containers you can eat to cut down on wasteful packaging.
Ever since the beginning of ice cream, we have recycled the cone by eating it along with the scoop of the pleasure food, and some ice cream aficionados are reputed to have developed a taste for the alternative waxy paper cup. Now, you will be able to accessorize your yogurt ingestion with a nice, crunchy cup of crushed pecans or a chewy container of dried fruit. Already, beer manufacturers are in the process of constructing cans out of pretzels and bottles out of slow-melting ice.
- Dog simulators that lower your blood pressure when you pet them.
Various models of robo-dogs will be on the market, ranging from simulated ears to full dog. Enjoy the benefits of stress reduction without the mess of scooping poop or toweling dog saliva from your nose, cheek and chin.
- Synthetic alcohol that gives you a buzz but doesn’t give you a hangover.
Scientists say this is just the first step on the road to creating alcohol that gives you a buzz, or even gets you totally blotto, without impairing your performance in an automobile, in bed or in church. Distillers are working with manufacturers of edible containers to make a gin that comes in a vermouth bottle that dissolves to make the perfect martini when the top, a freeze-dried olive, is twisted.
- Electro-pants that charge up your cell phone every time you stick it in your pocket.
The inventors of electro-pants have found a way to harness the heat differential in different body parts, and say front pockets provide access to an area buzzing with electromagnetic activity. The geniuses behind electro-pants are working on a top-secret plan to harness body-heat differential for a variety of household products, including the electric toothbrush and the personal vibrator.