Are you as annoyed as I am by the omnipresence of blaring television sets? It's bad enough to spend time waiting in a doctor's office or mechanic's lounge without the incessant television noise that splinters your concentration, so that you read the same passage in your book four times. (Maybe that's why those places are stocked with fluff-filled magazines.) How many times have you sat down to a nice restaurant meal with friends, expecting pleasant conversation, only to have everyone's eyes automatically swivel to the large-screen TV? The Orlando International Airport plays peaceful classical music throughout its terminals, surely designed to calm the nerves of frantic and impatient travellers. Too bad you can't hear it without the risk of missing your flight, because at the gates it's drowned out by clamoring television sets.

Mitch Altman to the rescue! The 48-year-old Silcon Valley inventor and entrepreneur finally turned his attention to one of his greatest annoyances, and invented the TV-B-Gone, a tiny universal remote control. Altman's black plastic keychain fob looks innocent enough, but wherever he goes, TV sets mysteriously darken. Here's a form of guerilla warfare I can sympathize with! Altman considers this the most helpful tool he's worked on, though he admits it isn't a cure-all:

Watching people staring past their beers in bars, spacing out behind the wheel at red lights and ignoring one another on the bus, it was clear that it would take more than a gadget to snap people entirely back to reality.

"What I really want," Altman said, "Is Life-B-Here."

Don't count on placing your order for the $14.99 device just yet. Existing stock sold out in two days, and the website was temporarily shut down, overwhelmed with traffic.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, October 22, 2004 at 4:01 pm | Edit
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