Thirty-Two Innovations That Will “Change Your Tomorrow”

The New York Times Magazine‘s “Innovations” issue is a good read. Of the 32 innovations listed, the most interesting to me were Nos. 14, 15, and 16. The appeal of the middle, anyone? Or maybe I’m just a fan of Catherine Rampell, who wrote two of those three.

Here they are:

The Shutup Gun When you aim the SpeechJammer at someone, it records that person’s voice and plays it back to him with a delay of a few hundred milliseconds. This seems to gum up the brain’s cognitive processes — a phenomenon known as delayed auditory feedback — and can painlessly render the person unable to speak.

Kazutaka Kurihara, one of the SpeechJammer’s creators, sees it as a tool to prevent loudmouths from overtaking meetings and public forums, and he’d like to miniaturize his invention so that it can be built into cellphones. “It’s different from conventional weapons such as samurai swords,” Kurihara says. “We hope it will build a more peaceful world.” — Catherine Rampell

The Kindness Hack Researchers at Wharton, Yale and Harvard have figured out how to make employees feel less pressed for time: force them to help others. According to a recent study, giving workers menial tasks or, surprisingly, longer breaks actually leads them to believe that they have less time, while having them write to a sick child, for instance, makes them feel more in control and “willing to commit to future engagements despite their busy schedules.” The idea is that completing an altruistic task increases your sense of productivity, which in turn boosts your confidence about finishing everything else you need to do.  — Catherine Rampell

Your Body, Your Login A team of Dutch and Italian researchers has found that the way you move your phone to your ear while answering a call is as distinct as a fingerprint. You take it up at a speed and angle that’s almost impossible for others to replicate. Which makes it a more reliable password than anything you’d come up with yourself. (The most common iPhone password is “1234.”) Down the line, simple movements, like the way you shift in your chair, might also replace passwords on your computer. It could also be the master key to the seven million passwords you set up all over the Internet but keep forgetting. — Chris Wilson

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  1. frankenduf says:

    re: body login- ok, but what if my bursitis acts up?

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  2. Ken Arromdee says:

    If your phone-fingerprint becomes compromised, how do you change it?

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  3. Mike says:

    Number 16 is a little scary. Hurt your arm? Can’t answer your phone! Talk about unintended consequences.

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  4. NZ says:

    Yeah, the body login is great until you have a broken arm or something and have to change the way you do all those little movements for a while.

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  5. Mike B says:

    ““It’s different from conventional weapons such as samurai swords,” Kurihara says. “We hope it will build a more peaceful world.”

    Yeah, because when you deprive people of the ability to let off steam through speech they get so much less angry.

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    • Alex Blaze says:

      Thinking the same thing – that thing sounds pretty violent to me. Also, humiliating people in meetings? I’m sure that’ll make everyone happier.

      Then again, has there been a weapon invented in the last 100 years that wasn’t marketed as a way to make peace? There’s a reason the Ministry of Peace in 1984 was in charge of war.

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  6. Eric M. Jones. says:

    The Shutup Gun: “It’s different from conventional weapons such as samurai swords,” Kurihara says.

    Yeh, but a samurai sword works better and provides a permanent solution!

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  7. James says:

    Can’t see how most of those are even going to affect my life, let alone change it. A number of them seem to be exercises in missing the obvious, as for instance making commercial flight more comfortable by increasing cabin pressure & humidity will Like that’s going to make me forget about being squeezed into a 14-inch seat between two obese people, with the guy in front reclining onto my knees, and the folks a row or two over changing their infant’s diaper…

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  8. Jose Carlos Garuba says:

    Any type of fingerprint (eyes, thumbs, hand, body language, voice, face recognition, etc, etc, etc…) can be digitally replicated.

    It´s like a password you can’t change: Once the hacker copy your information with a virus in your device, your login is compromised and you can’t change it.

    Anyway, we will find a good solution in the future, like the day someone figured that two people don’t need to physically meet each other to exchange passwords: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public-key_cryptography

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    • Enter your name... says:

      The important point here is that you don’t digitally replicate the arm motion itself. You just replicate the digital signal that arm motion creates. You’ll need a video camera, some specialized software (for measuring the video of me using my phone), and a way to transmit the signal to the device.

      It’s not materially different from hacking a door badge system: you don’t need to have a door badge. You only need to convince the door badge reader that you have one.

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      • James says:

        Wouldn’t even need the vodeo camera &c. The device (cell phone or whatever) has to have sensors to monitor the motion, either inertial or through video tracking. Just tap those sensor readings, replay them through some device, and you’re in.

        Much the same principle as the false fronts used to scam ATM machines.

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