5 of the most unnecessary inventions ever created (and why you should have them)
What drives an inventor to put all their talent into the development of something the world does not need? Perhaps they hope that by a random twist of fate their creations will end up changing the lives of millions.
As weird and wonderful as these five inventions are, they are unlikely to find their way into mass production any time soon:
- The Banana Saw
- The machine that turns itself off
- The world’s smallest arcade cabinet
- The bottle opener tooth implant
- The subway sleeping helmet
The name is self-explanatory. This is a machine that does one thing, and does that one thing exceptionally well: turn itself off. Despite its somewhat limited functionality, the invention’s appeal has spread disproportionately, with hobbyists from all over the world pouring their energy into building new variations of this box of mono-delight.
No matter if that box is made of metal, wood or plastic, if it plays music or dances across a table-top – it will always feature a solitary switch that, when pressed, will cause a panel to open and an arm to appear and flick the power back off. Strangely hypnotic in its simplicity, there are those who can watch it perform for hours on end.
How many times have you gone to peel a banana and pulled down on the stem at the top, only to find it doesn’t tear and you’ve ended up crushing the end? We’re guessing not that many. So it probably won’t be a surprise to discover that the creative minds behind the Banana Saw are German comedy trio Studio Braun, or that the invention was brought to life for a sketch promoting their Spinal Tap-esque mockumentary band Fraktus.
To be fair, the device is a pretty effective way of keeping a banana 100 per cent intact every time you open one – simply slice the teeth across the fruit’s skin just below the stem, and voila, it will peel away from the flesh beneath without resistance. If this sounds like an innovation you can’t live without, the Banana Saw can actually be purchased on the internet.
A lot of time and work was wasted on the construction of what’s been billed the smallest arcade cabinet in the world. We say “wasted” because, while it’s undoubtedly cool to see arcade classics like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man literally at the end of your fingertips, you’ll need either superhuman vision or a magnifying glass to see them properly, as well as particularly dainty digits to handle the tiny controls. The cabinet’s screen measures just 0.96 inches, and creator Adafruit admits that is just too small, requiring major graphics down-sampling that renders the games barely recognisable.
In a bid to create a viral marketing video, Argentinian beer company Salta came up with the kind of dental prosthesis that will allow anyone to pull off the perfect party trick at the next after-work trip to the pub. Salta chose three rugby players who had each lost a tooth in the pursuit of victory to receive the 3D-printed implant which doubles as a bottle opener.
After some fairly drastic-looking surgery, each one demonstrated their new found gift on – you guessed it – a bottle of Salta beer. Given the power drills involved and blood that was spilled, we’re quite happy to stick with a conventional opener for now.
This ingenious contraption deserves to be a hit on the London Underground, where all too often a weary traveller will feel inclined to use your shoulder as an impromptu pillow. But unfortunately the ‘Commuter’s Helmet’ – a hard hat with suction cup at the back to allow you to remain perfectly upright whilst snoozing – is unlikely to catch on. Primarily because you’ll look so ridiculous that nobody will want to sit next to you on the Tube. In which case you won’t have to worry which side your head droops when you drop off, rendering the whole thing completely pointless.