Safety catches

Jul 18, 2001 at 12:00 am

As part of a government initiative to produce safer new products, a guy in Oregon developed a saw that can tell if a human finger is in front of it. The electrical charge of the body makes the saw stop before it chops off a digit.

According to the Associated Press, “When its maker demonstrated its use with a hot dog, the power saw stopped abruptly with a loud pop after barely touching the wiener.” If you think back, I bet you can remember a time this happened to you naturally.

Another invention that was unveiled was an alarm that sounds when a child gets too close to the swimming pool. It also automatically calls the neighbors and the fire department if the kid falls in.

Isn’t technology grand? Don’t you wonder how we ever survived without it? Can’t you just picture our ancestors, loping around out there in the woods, no Purell, no contact lenses, no Internet, just lonesome, bacteria-ridden and on the verge of walking right into a rattlesnake’s mouth? It’s a wonder any of us ever got here.

For prevention

As someone who thinks a car can be conned into starting with promises of future good maintenance, I’m a great admirer of technology and the geek geniuses who make it. The real-life inventions that people come up with only seem to spur on further ideas; if they can make a pool that can ring up the neighbors, they can make a lot of other things. In fact, here are more ideas for inventions the government can sponsor that will make our lives safer and better. Not always prettier, but safer and better:

· Hee-haw car alarm: Car makes huge donkey sound, alerting fellow motorists if driver picks up cell phone while going over 40 mph.

· Magnet eyes: Magnet with silencer attachment that detects and absorbs the jingling change from other people’s pockets. They were probably going to spend it on cigarettes anyway, so you’re saving lives.

· Wet alert: Diapers that light up when they reach a moisture level indicating change is a good thing. Also to be put in Depends Undergarments so you will know who in the office has been wearing them — just to save time.

· MasterCards/Mistress Cards: If you’re nickel-and-diming yourself to debt, pick a moment when you are clear and rational and set a self-imposed spending limit on all your plastic. This limit is encoded into the cards. If you threaten to exceed this by acting like a big spender, speakers in the ATM or phone will shout obscene things when your limit is reached. Being called a “panty sniffer” by your own credit card in front of a sales clerk ought to help you keep yourself in check (especially if you were trying to buy lingerie).

· External air bags: On impact, or upon the threat of impact, compartments in grill and doors spring open and release protective balloony air bags. Car is protected and suddenly looks like one of those inflatable trampoline castles people rent for kids’ parties. In fact, why not just put a motor in one of those things and off you go?

· Traffic stop: A system by which a whole bunch of people can get somewhere far away at once, thus relieving traffic, making roads safer, cutting down on DUIs, saving gas, giving greater exposure to businesses, providing immense convenience and pushing the city out of its bizarre prolonged childhood and into a nice budding adolescence. Alternative name: Light rail. Cannot understand why no one has thought of this before.

For pretension

· Mira Mirror:You can’t trust store mirrors or sales clerks to tell you how you really look in a purchase. The Mira Mirror picture phone can be installed in department stores, allowing you to call a fashion critic who, for a nominal fee per minute, will tell you how you really look. The cost of the call could save you the cost of an outfit. Price-gouging feature: Mira will charge you extra to avoid hearing anything from the cat-faced Joan Rivers.

· Memory bank: Microchip implanted in brain which utilizes voice recognition technology to stop you from making an ass of yourself. As soon as it hears the word “margarita” the bank blanks out your vision, replacing it with a slide show of the last time you went on a bender. When you see yourself flashing your tacky, worn-out bra to a baffled stranger in a pool hall, doing a heartfelt karaoke rendition of “Survivor” all by yourself which ends in tears, or making plans with a bartender you just met to drive all night to New Orleans, maybe you’ll think twice about ordering a triple.

Come to think of it, that power-saw technology could be useful for humans as well as saws. If you could be infused with sensors that would make you come to a stop with a loud pop before you get too close to some wiener that strayed into your path, think how many tubes of ointment or regrettable mornings it would save you. It even works when you’re drunk. Now, how much would you pay?

Liz Langley writes for the Orlando Weekly. E-mail [email protected]