Things I Wish They’d Invent

December 22, 2010

As a species, humans are pretty creative… sometimes even to a fault. Over the millennia, we’ve managed to come up with some pretty fantastic inventions. Fire was one. The printing press was another. So was the space shuttle.

However, sometimes humans are so creative, we can conceptualize things that we aren’t actually capable of creating yet. We call this science fiction. As much as I like space ships, and androids, and time travel, and bioengineering, and all the other SF tropes, I can’t help but think of a few inventions that would be a little nicer to have around the house. They’re not life-changing, they’d just make life a tad more convenient.

#1. The Instant Bed-Time Button

We’ve all been there. You’ve come home from a party, or finally close the door on the last guest, and all you want to do is fall into bed and crash hard. Unfortunately, you can’t do that right away. There are dishes to wash, teeth to brush and floss, pyjamas to find and put on… and all the while your bed teases you, so close and yet so far (especially in your stumbling, exhausted state). Wouldn’t it be great if you could just push a button and be instantly transported into your bed with everything clean, warm, and dry, ready to slip into Dreamland?

#2. Cloud Repeller

Hopefully some of you managed to see the lunar eclipse last night. I was out in the wee hours of the morning, freezing with snow in my boots, peering through my binoculars. It was definitely worth it, but I almost didn’t set my alarm because when I went to bed, the sky was completely overcast. Somehow by 2:00 am it turned into a perfectly clear, crisp night, but weather conditions worried me for a bit. I’m sure amateur and professional astronomers alike would agree that a device that could zap clouds away would be a godsend. There is nothing more frustrating than staring at an impenetrable layer of freakin’ water vapour knowing that everything you want to see is shining away on the other side, just out of sight.

#3. Video Dream Recorder

Continuing with our nocturnal theme here. I remember my dreams pretty well, but many people don’t. Of the dreams I do recall, there are some that I wouldn’t mind re-experiencing afresh, particularly if it’s one of the ones with a gripping plot and well-defined characters. So, I’m thinking a TiVo-type machine that records your dreams for viewing later. Think of all the potential story ideas! And if it’s a nightmare, no problem, just hit “erase.” Best of all: no commercials.

 #4. Feline GPS

I know you can get your pets microchipped. However, that’s only good if someone else finds them and thinks to take them to a vet or shelter. When it’s 11 pm, it might be good to know whether your cat’s  under the porch snickering at your repeated calls of “Here, kitty, kitty…” or on the other side of town. Even if your cat doesn’t go outside, they can still get into some bizarre hiding places inside. I’ve found the Tabby Terrier wedged at the back of closets, on top of the fridge, between the couch and the wall, and stuck in the furnace room (NB: he’s a tabby who thinks he’s a dog, not a terrier that hunts tabbies). Admittedly, he’s not that bright, but surely this happens to other people. Right?

#5. iPod Beeper

Similar to the Feline GPS. Many phones have beepers; they’ll call forlornly from between the couch cushions or under the morning paper. I wish there was something similar for iPods- I tend to set mine down and then wander away. This usually results in a heart-stopping moment where my mind races, wondering, “Was it stolen? Did it even enter the house? When did I last see it?”

#6. Flying Broomsticks

I play Muggle Quidditch (running around with a broom between your legs) and it is a lot a fun. However, it can’t hold a candle to wizard Quidditch. As near as I can tell, having a real flying broomstick would be like having a motorcycle and jetpack in one convenient package. And it’d be way more environmentally friendly- magic doesn’t cause emissions! Unless it’s a spell designed to create emissions, I suppose. But anyway: broomsticks would ease gridlock, improve air quality, and just generally be awesome.

So, if there are any inventors out there… What are you waiting for? The world is counting on you!




  1. Great list, Arvik!

    Due to my late night last night ~ peering at the night sky ~ I’m wishing for a “instant bedtime button” right about NOW!

  2. I’m down with the flying broomsticks… as long as they can have saddles or pads of some kind. It wouldn’t be a very good form of transportation if you arrive at your destination speaking in soprano (for guys, anyway). Maybe at least a bycicle seat?

  3. I’d like a kid-friendly version of the Instant Bedtime Button, please. And maybe a smaller, more economical, portable kid-friendly Instant Naptime Button, too. Please, inventors, don’t make me beg.

  4. I’d like an alternate me, like in David Brin’s Kiln People. That way he could go to work and I could do whatever I felt like.

    — david j.

  5. The dream recorder would be the best thing ever invented. Though, I would not like some dreams to be recorded. Perhaps there could be programed not to record certain nightmarish content. 😛 But, deleting works too. There are dreams you completely forget as soon as you get up. So that would be cool to see what you dreamed. 😀

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