Thursday, December 10, 2009

Got Any Batteries?

This is the time of year when American consumerism is at its peak. A walk down the aisle at Walmart or Walgreen’s or a peek into a Sharper Image or Hammacher Schlemmer catalog and you will be reminded that Americans are in love with automation. Now don’t get me wrong,I am not willing to live an Amish existence. I like my microwave and vacuum as much as anyone. I even own an electric ice crusher and a Mr. Iced Tea. But how lazy does one have to get to need some of the things that are available this Christmas? The descriptions are the manufacturers', not mine. The parenthetical wise cracks are mine.

Hands Free Toothpaste Dispenser

Now, Touch N Brush is the revolutionary new hands-free, mess-free toothpaste dispenser that works with just one touch! It's the great new way to dispense the perfect amount of toothpaste every time. Just a gentle touch of the pump arm with the brush, and a nice, neat strip of toothpaste comes out instantly! Featuring Vacuum Force Technology that cleanly squeezes every available drop of toothpaste, Touch N Brush works with virtually any size toothpaste tube, totally eliminates bathroom mess, uses no batteries or electric, plus it's incredibly easy to set-up & refill. What's more, it looks great! No more messy sinks, no cleaning up after kids, or fighting over the last drop of toothpaste. Just a simple gentle touch and a perfect, even strip of toothpaste is on the brush in one second!
(As opposed to the 1.01 second it takes to do it by hand.)

Motion Sensing Tetris Game

Rather than pressing keys, you alter a Tetrimino's direction by simply tilting or turning the handheld console, allowing blocks to be dropped on any side of the 2" x 2 1/2" monochrome LCD grid. Tetriminos may also be rotated with the push of a button.

(Because pressing keys can be so stressful.)

Ultra-sonic Denture Cleaner

Proven to eliminate up to 99.9% of germs like E. coli and Staphylococcus, the unit vibrates 8,000 times per minute and uses tap water to clean dental aides in five minutes without the need for chemicals.

(If you buy this, what will you use your Hands Free toothpaste dispenser for?)

I do, however, believe my workplace has reached the height of automation overload.
1. Our bathroom doors open automatically. That is totally understandable, it was requested by a disabled person and is necessary for several patrons. But read on.

2. The toilets flush automatically before and after use. It is probably meant to save water but because it is movement activated (no pun intended - ok I intended it) it often flushes when it doesn’t need to. When it does flush, there isn’t enough water that it flushes completely so you have to flush it again manually using even more water than one normal, manual flush would have used.

3. The soap dispensers are electronic and when they run out of soap they beep continuously until they are refilled. The person who refills them only comes in the library a couple times a day. So once one of them is out of soap, everyone in the library hears it beeping every time the door is opened.

4. The water is motion sensitive. The problem is, you have to wave your hands under it for several seconds before it comes on and then it continues to run for several seconds after you’ve finished and moved on.

5. The paper towels are dispensed automatically. That is fine but it is often empty and you drip dry, anyway.

I realize that manufacture, sale, and installation of all this automation provide the economy with jobs, GDP, taxes, etc. But I can’t help but wonder how many good old fashioned, low tech library books could have been bought with the money it took to automate the outhouse.


1 comment:

Jason Valendy said...

Think Americans are nuts for robotic stuff. Check out this robotic chair from Japan (Honda).