When I was in first grade, my teacher gave our class the assignment that simply said: “Rip Van Winkle has been asleep for quite a few decades, but he finally awakens, and it is your job to teach him about an invention he hasn’t yet seen.” I interpreted that to mean something new, something upcoming, something we could look forward to in the near future. Since at the time my grandparents lived in Florida, and I could only visit them once or twice a year, but we talked on the phone every Saturday morning, I invented the picture phone. Or at least I thought I did.
Apparently, though, the first variation on the invention was patented in 1955, with early ideas being quoted as on the record as early as 1910, quite a few decades before my amateur pencil sketch garnered me a check plus on the assignment. I didn’t learn it was already a real invention until a few years later, studying advances in technology in a later grade, and needless to say, I felt a bit jipped. Now those feelings are flooding back.
Just the other day I was telling a friend how I would love a “smart” refrigerator—you know, the kind you see in programs about time travelers on ABC Family Channel. I wanted to invent one that could inventory everything inside and then make a grocery list for you based on what’s running low or what’s missing all together. And then today happened.
Good Day LA sent one of their reporters to Disneyland for the opening of two attractions. One is the Toy Story 3D laser gun ride, which doesn’t look unlike the already existing “Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters” game. The other, though, is a smart house, complete with a bedroom in which you can stand in front of a mirror and virtually try on all of the clothes in the closet, saving you from physically trying them on before a big date or first day of school or work, shaving dozens of minutes off of your preparation. It truly is the wave of the future. But the point is that of course Disney thought of the smart refrigerator, too, and one is featured front and center in their whole smart kitchen, where all of their appliances are taken above and beyond proving that my imagination is feeble, as I only managed to think of one cool advancement and again, way too late. While the refrigerator also makes menu recommendations, and everything in the kitchen is done on a touch basis, the HP-technology run house does not feature a bathroom. Does that mean in the future we’ll find another way to take care of what normally goes on in there? Or is there actually a corner of the market still open for suggestions? Because I’ve got quite a few ideas for in there, too, only I think I’ll keep them to myself so no one else steals them and subsequently my millions!