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It takes a unique type of person to come up with a new invention and actually make it. So what do you call an inventor that comes up with weird inventions? Well, just weird I suppose.
The Arduino open-source electronic prototyping platform is opening the world of inventing to record numbers of people. And when that happens, well, just keep reading to see what happens.
Some of these inventions are odd but maybe marketable, some are reinventing the wheel, some are dangerous, and some are downright gross. You know we saved the best for last, so if you want to see the gross ones, you’ll have stick it out until the end. Let’s go.
First lets look at a few projects that make you think, “Not sure if useless or marketable…”
Developer by day, maker by any time he can fit in, Gregg Horton didn’t want to wait for coffee. So he took his programmer skills, an Arduino board, a Power Switch Tail relay and his Twitter account to task. Voila! Twitter enabled coffee pot. With a tweet he can turn it on, and for safety he can turn it off with another tweet. Make mine a double-double.
This one goes back a few years, and you might have already seen it. Blake Bevin couldn’t wait for self-lacing shoes. So, she took an Arduino Duemilanove Board, an Adafruit Motor Shield and some other assorted parts, and hooked them up to her Nikes. Now she’s ready to run back to the future.
This is a great project that shows that making something which might seem silly could turn into a desired product. So instead of running back to the future, Blake decided to run a business. You can buy a refined version of her project that will work on almost any shoe. It’s called Power Laces Universal. They’re sold out right now, but keep an eyelet out. They might do another production run. Meanwhile Nike have announced an actual shoe with built-in “adaptive lacing” (and that isn’t an April Fool).
Coffee and wine lovers like to think they’re particular about their drinks. But give an improperly prepared cup of tea to a tea person, and the end of the world is nigh. Of course, they’ll be very polite about it. “Thank you. However, I think you’ll find that this Japanese green tea is best made at 180° F, steeped for 2–3 minutes. You’ve mistaken it for a Chinese green tea, which as we all know requires water at 185° F, and steeps for an even 3 minutes.” Oh, snap!
Mix that tea lover with an engineer and you have found the height of precision. His name is Brian McEvoy, a.k.a. 24 Hour Engineer. Combining an Arduino Mini and a 16×2 LCD display, with a splash of tea preparation research and a squeeze of 3D printing, McEvoy has made a workable prototype for the perfect automatic tea maker. This could be made into a viable product. You might say a Keurig or Tassimo does the same thing. You might also duck after saying that to a true tea lover.
We go now from the marketable to the completely useless…
Because what everyone needs in their life is Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors. (It’s a Broadway play and movie. Look it up.) Thankfully, this invention doesn’t make your plant into a flesh eater. What it does do is make the plant into a capacitive touch sensor using an Arduino Uno and a Gameduino. Through some artistic programming, how you touch the plant will determine the sound that it makes. Sort of like a theremin.
Before anyone gets upset about an art project being called useless, obviously it isn’t. Its use is to express an artistic intent being manifested using technology and nature. It does that pretty well, don’t you think?
This useless invention would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Poor maker Blair needs culturally relevant social approval so badly, she used her Arduino, ultrasonic range sensor, Afinia 3D printer, and programming skills to build a friend to fist bump with.
Ok, she’s not needy at all, but the idea of someone needing this so badly is a bit amusing. C’mon, if Moss from The IT Crowd made this, you’d laugh.
It’s impressive looking, I’ll give it that. But combining an Arduino Uno, RFID reader, and a bunch of LEDs just to open a URL to your favorite websites is a bit over the top, isn’t it? Sure it’s got that geek appeal, but it really is terribly useless.
It makes me wonder, though. Is it better to build useless Arduino devices to learn, or dangerous Arduino devices for fun? Danger, please!
This is pure rock and roll. Loud music, fire, microcontrollers…what’s not rock and roll about that? Maybe the microcontroller. This is definitely not a project you want to attempt at home, or you may end up without a home.
It’s amazing what an 18 year-old can do with some gas fittings, a Playstation, an Arduino and too much time on his hands. Let’s hope that he continues to use his powers for good.
You read that right. It’s an Arduino driven tentacle holding a sharp knife. Why? Because having that in your nightmares isn’t good enough. It needed to be manifested like a mini-Cthuhlu performing in West Side Story. (It’s a Broadway play and movie. Look it up.)
It’s an interesting turn, or spasm, on the Arduino blinking LED tutorial. Instead of hooking up the Arduino Mega LED output to an ordinary LED, he connected it to a precision servo via LittleBits, and strapped a Swiss Army knife to it. Good news is that it could fight off 10 terrorists on a plane at one time. Bad news is there’s no way you’ll make it on an airplane with this. Turning it off may prove difficult as well.
Speaking of making things more difficult…
You could practically build your own synthesizer and make any sound you want with an Arduino. Even the sound of a bell. But why not hook it up to a real bell? And then why not use it to tell you if someone visits your website? Surely there must already be programs that let you know when people visit your blog.
Still, a little bell ringing brings Christmas cheer. Remember the line, “Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets it’s wings.” from It’s a Wonderful Life? (It’s an Off-Broadway play and movie. Look it up.)
You’ve got the knowledge to build anything you want. The amount of information in your head is staggering. So why bother to use that little memory aid you learned to figure out resistor color codes? Why not make a super-large mock resistor to help you figure out it out?
Simply turn the potentiometer dials until you see the color code that your real-world resistor has. Then you’ll know what it’s rated for. Here’s an idea though: what if that mock-resistor used variable resistors and by dialling it in, you could create a resistor of that exact value? Then you could hook up your circuit to it and try it out. Might be a good teaching aid.
I don’t know how to segue into these next ones, other than to say that they’re gross. Gross was promised at the beginning of all this. Go ahead, read’em. But remember, once seen, it cannot be unseen.
Nope, it’s not for monitoring how long your teenager has been in the shower. This device’s creator, msuzuki777, is 68 years old and gets a bit forgetful. He admits as much when he writes, “Now I like to take a shower every other day but can’t remember if it’s shower day or not.” The sole purpose of this invention is to remind him to shower, every other day.
But Suzuki is smart, like build your own Arduino from scratch smart. He even figured out that his first prototype wasn’t accurate enough, so he built another one!
Surely if he can remember everything it takes to create such a thing, he can remember whether he showered or not. A quick sniff of the pits ought to clear that up. Maybe he has anosmia, I don’t know. To be fair, not showering every day isn’t all that gross. Some might call it water conservation. But for some of us, yeah, it’d be gross. I’m the first to admit I get funky if I miss a shower.
For true grossness, steel your eyes to gaze on this wonder.
This has nothing to do with simulating arcade games, vending machines, or Las Vegas. Artist and creator Amy Khoshbin saw a problem that needed fixing, and fix it she did. Using a Lilypad Arduino, vibrating motor, and a photoresistor Khosbin created a fanny pack of sorts that, “…measures the amount of light in your coin slot…” By coin slot, she means the intergluteal cleft. Y’know, your butt crack.
If your coin slot is getting daylight, the unit vibrates to let you know to pull up your pants, pull down your shirt, get a belt, do whatever it takes to cover that nasty bit up. “How is this gross?”, you ask. How does something that sits in your butt crack all day and vibrate not become gross? To which you reply, “Well played.”
All Good Fun
None of these inventions are really useless, dumb, or even that gross. Dangerous? Yes, a couple really are. This is all to highlight the infinite ways the Arduino development boards are making creators and problem solvers out of all of us. It’s all in good fun. I do thank all the people that put their work out in the public for us to see, and for taking the time to document their projects so well, so we can all learn. When so-called ordinary people are enabled, they can do extraordinary things.