“Everything that can be invented has been invented” – said the US patent office commissioner in 1899. And over the past century, people have been burying that statement in an avalanche of inventions… around 100,000 inventions on an annual basis. You GOTTA stop and wonder – 100, 000??? Really? What are these guys inventing, for crying out loud. How come we don’t see many of these in action? Did they finally make that hoverboard from the Back To The Future movies?
Important, persistent, unanswered questions. The key to the answer is that not all new products make it big. Some products make life changing developments that would shape the course of history to come… err… also known as the future. And other products end up on my blog.
I was visiting the new branch of ‘Staples‘ near Koramangala yesterday, and I found a product that they are aggressively promoting. It seemed like a joke at first, but on closer inspection, you can see that while the company seems to take it seriously, it still remains a joke.
It is called ‘The Easy Button’. I wanted to put a photo with me holding it up in the Staples store, but couldn’t because of three reasons –
- Too much trouble loading the pic to the comp – I have to turn my room upside down, looking for the cable, hook up the camera, take the download software, etc etc etc.. Not worth it. You know I’m too lazy for all that, right?
- No batteries – Even if I DO find the cable, I can’t proceed without batteries now, can I? And it’s 2:30 a.m. over here now. Where am I going to get batteries at this time of night? Thought about that? I didn’t think so.
- No images – So even if I DO find the cables… AND I ‘somehow’ get batteries for the camera, I still can’t upload the pictures. I never took photos. I wanted to put up some photos, and I had a vague idea about how the pics should be like, but I never got around to getting the photos done.
It is called an easy button, or the Staples Easy Button, to be accurate. It is a radical stress relieving device for the office. According to the product description, it is the perfect way to relax, unwind and de-stress from a hard and stressful day.
And how does the miracle product work? Imagine a stressful day at the office. You are loaded with yet another last minute assignment with limited budget, poor resources, and an insane timeline with senior management barking your head off every seven minutes. You barely get enough time to tear your hair out in justified frustration. Just when you feel there is no hope in sight, you reach out for the miracle product. You press the big red button and it says in a chirpy, battery powered voice – “That was easy”… with a special emphasis on the word ‘That‘.
It comes with preloaded batteries, so that you can hear the words right from the display. And the pack comes with the tagline – “Don’t stress it. Just press it!!!” – and they said innovation in advertisement is dead. Tut tut.
I would have expected most people react to the concept the same way I did – Say stuff like “Awww… look at that… they encourage ‘special’ people in product development these days”, but still keep a safe distance from it. However, when I looked it up online, I found out something quite distressing. It seems the product is a great hit. You can get your very own copy from Amazon.
Now THAT is creepy. I have to question the sanity of a world which would make this product a success. In a real world scenario, if I did some particularly hard work which makes me pant and gasp, and while I’m basking in the limelight of having done something big, if someone comes to me with a big smile and tells me – “Hey, THAT was easy”, I’d bash his face in with a rod, and keep bashing until the next words he says would be coming from the back of his head… Hmm… Talk about creepy.
But that wouldn’t work with this wondertoy. If you hit it, it will simply repeat the words,”That was easy”, no matter what the task, no matter what the situation, no matter who presses it…
“Oh, GOD!!! I did it! I DID IT!! Seven years of 18 hour workdays at the lab, forgoing basic hygiene, losing touch with the outside world, and enduring cafeteria food, but I finally did it. This drug can cure cancer! God, I can’t believe the stress… “
“That was easy!”
“Wha??? Whatha? Why you little…”
<BANG! – Beeeep>
“That was easy!”
“No, it wasn’t! No, it wasn’t, you hear me, you piece of…”
<BIFF! – Beeeep>
“That was easy!”
“Easy? I don’t have any friends anymore. My wife left me, and my kids don’t recognize me. Call that easy?? Nancy! Get me that hammer! I oughta…”
<KICK! – Beeeep>
“That was easy!”
“Easy? Nancy? Where’s that hammer? Let me see how you like this, you little…”
<BANG! THUD! BIFF! BOP! POW! THUD THUD THUD – Be-e-e-e-e-e–e-eeep>
“Tha… Tha.. Tha… Tha… That… Tha… Th… That was easy!”
And while he’s dragged away by the authorities promptly alerted by, say, Nancy, I’m sure he won’t be agree that the little red button was designed to relieve stress. And yet… the Staples Easy Button is a hit. I am trying to rationalize this; thinking of a scenario that justifies this while maintaining an optimistic view of the world at large. Hopefully, the major market for the Staples Easy Button is the inebriated crackhead on an especially idiotic day. And hopefully, the next day, when he sees it sane and sober through his hangover, he’d go – “Crap.That was stupid!”