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May 11, 2012


That is, by far, the coolest innovation I have seen in years. Thanks.

I somehow have my doubts about the lateral stability. Or this thing must be quite heavy to keep the centre of gravity low enough.

That's a wonderful invention. I hope it catches on and becomes available to more people. It would make such a difference!

I have a cousin for whom this device might have been custom-made: she has been paralyzed from the waist down since birth. She uses leg braces and crutches, a car with hand controls, and lots of careful planning to lead a busier and more productive life than most people.

The careful planning is mostly around steps. Never mind stairs; the smallest, lowest curb is an insurmountable barrier to her. Cool as it is, the device in the video doesn't seem to help with that.

My own reservation is about power. I assume the thing runs on batteries -- pretty heavy ones by the looks of it, but batteries nonetheless. How long does it run, and how long does it need to recharge?

That brings me to lj's question about "amazing" new devices. Right now, I'm consulting for a company that is developing a pocket power plant for recharging cellphones. This little machine is about the size of a pack of cigarettes, contains a solid-state fuel cell, accepts a butane cartridge like the ones used for cordless hair curlers and pocket soldering irons, and puts out electricity on a USB port. Each butane cartridge is good for 10-12 full recharges of an iPhone. I'm not divulging company secrets here, because they just announced a marketing agreement with Brookstone; neither am I advertising anything here, so you can google "Lilliputian Systems" yourself if you care to.

My question is: assuming the product performs exactly as advertised (which we are working like madmen to make sure it does) will you consider it an "amazing" device? Would you buy one because you need the functionality? or because it's a neat new gizmo? or to be the coolest, hippest road warrior in the Narita airport lounge?


I travel very little (law student) so I don't think I'm the target consumer. It doesn't sound amazing to me, but that might change a lot depending on the exact size, weight, and amount of heat that it produces.

For a businessperson it could be great - I assume outlets are sometimes difficult to find, broken, in use, or of an incompatible design.

Tony P. that goes right up to the amazing line, and would jump right over it if I were travelling internationally and I could use it on a plane. My reservations would be that butane cartridges would make it impossible for in air use. and could I get those cartridges here in Japan and other places overseas?

It would be amazing if I wanted to have portable devices while camping (yeah, what a geek lower, but the time I get the most done is when I am on the shinkansen with just me and my laptop)

One of the things that an amazing device could be said to do is that it creates its own infrastructure. By that standard, the device in the post might not qualify. Another way might be that it opens up a range of possibilities that weren't there before, and I think this might qualify.

One other thing that struck me was that this was from Turkey. I didn't put it in the post because I didn't want to sound condescending, but a couple of years ago on this very blog, the opinion was offered that Turkey, as an Islamic nation, could never be effectively integrated into the EU. Yet if something like this comes out of a study group in Turkey, I wonder what innovations and ideas get lost from other places in the world.

should have done my googling. from this article

Some have already gotten the nod. This year, Lilliputian Systems of Wilmington, Mass., should be announcing the availability­ of a butane-powered fuel cell that can be carried anywhere, says Mouli Ramani, the company’s vice president of marketing and business development. Ramani says he’s flown more than a million miles with a certified model of their first product. “And I [display] it at every opportunity to show flight attendants and anybody else that it’s safe,” he says.

About the size of a deck of cards, Lilliputian’s initial product is a portable charger that uses replaceable butane-filled cartridges­ and can boost a cellphone’s dead battery up to 20 times when, say, all the available A/C outlets are taken. A single, recyclable Lilliputian fuel cell will run a phone normally for two weeks to a month. “You never have to worry about fighting for a plug at a crowded airport lounge ever again,” Ramani says.

Tony, that sounds pretty amazing to me. Like LJ, I would definitely use it for backapacking. When backpacking, I typically leave my phone ofbf for emergencies, but the ability to actually use it without having to worry that the battery will be dead in an emergency would be really nice. For longer hikes, I've taken an emergency locator beacon, but I'd much prefer to use a smart phone instead (or at least, in addition to).

Plus it would be great for general travel. Finding open outlets in some airports is really hard and there are issues charging smartphones in some cars.

Tony P:

I don't understand how your animal spirits, red of tooth and claw, and your innovative, job-creating juices can possibly be motivated and primed to emerge from their lair in our stifling, socialist, over-regulated, high-tax regime and continue to produce as they do, especially for a small to middle-sized businessman like yourself, roughly between three and a half to 4' 8" inches tall.

Stalin himself looks askance.

I would imagine just the thought of 50 million uninsured Americans sucking titty off the government and being forced at gunpoint to purchase health insurance in 2014 makes you want to stop fiddling with butane-powered cell phone rechargers and move directly to truly revolutionary innovation, like exploding, but form-fitting aviator underpants.

As for Turkey, the high marginal tax rate is an onerous 35% with 20& capital gains rates.

One would have expected, from a Norquistian/Armey perspective, economic paralysis, and yet the paralyzed rise from bed fully functional and ready to work.

I notice the young man in the video, despite being shackled to his bed by the dead hand of government subsidy and having enjoyed his parasitical position vis a vis the more useful galts in Turkish society, nevertheless leaps to his feet at the first opportunity of upward mobility and rides off to work, perchance to xerox and maybe soon, should his luck hold out, to be rationalized by Bain Capital in a headcount-reduction with COBRA opportunities resplendent and a trip to the Marianas to observe child-labor produce the next version of his cool wheelchair replacement.

You'd a thunk he would have reasoned from his prone position that mobility, work, and productivity could only catapult him to the 35% marginal rate where goes to die, so what's the use, why not just lie here and live off the fat of the land.

Regarding Medicaid and/or Medicare paying for this wondrous new device, buried deep in Paul Ryan's economic blueprint and budget it is stipulated that no way, because what will happen you see is that fat lazy black women, sensing dependency when they see it, who have two perfectly good legs will get a hold of these fully-subsidized two-wheeled caddies with the food stamp glove compartment and George Foreman grill add-on options and be wheeling down to the grocery to pick up some rib-eyes and box wine.

Now, if you mount a couple of high-caliber battlefield weapons and maybe a missile launcher on that contraption, the Defense Department will have some extra green available to purchase several hundred thousand of them, some of which will find their way eventually to the Armey-Navy surplus outlets and into the hands of Tea Party types who need some extra deadly ambulatory aids to combat the infestation of parasites who are still sitting in the 1991-model old school wheelchairs begging for a little life sustaining sugar from Uncle Sam, I think Ryan finds a little wiggle room in the deficit for that, because look, if Dagny Taggart has decided to sleep with St. Thomas Aquinas, just about anything is possible in papal architecture.

the opinion was offered that Turkey, as an Islamic nation, could never be effectively integrated into the EU. Yet if something like this comes out of a study group in Turkey, I wonder what innovations and ideas get lost from other places in the world.
As a European, I'd like to note that these two points are completely different. A Muslim can do great science and develop high technology. Living in an Islamic nation does not make one stupid or ill-educated. (BTW, Turkey is still secular state, more secular than most European countries.)

However, Turkey cannot become a member of the Union for several reasons, the least of which is their religion.

First, Turkey has a relatively poor economy. As a member of the Union, Turkey would receive an immense amount of European Union funds, which would mean either enlarging the Union budget or lowering the support going to the Eastern European member states.

Second, Turkey has a very large, growing population. As a citizens of the Union, Turks would be free to move to other EU countries. Such mass immigration is not wished by most member countries.

Third, EU governance is democratic. As a member state, Turkey would wield about as much power as Germany, and within 20 years, clearly more. This would disrupt the current balance of power.

Fourth, EU is not solely economic union. It would be utterly treasonous from the EU to accept Turkey as member state as long as it occupies the territory of another member. Cyprus must be first united.

Fifth, Turkey is a country neighbouring a number of extremely restless nations. If we ever develop a true European defence, it would mean that my country might get entangled with the affairs of the Middle East. I have no qualms to dying for Poland, but I don't want to die for the oppression of Iraqi Kurds.

Lurker, I said I didn't mention Turkey in the post was that I didn't want to condescend, but I guess that wasn't clear enough. I do think that there is a lot of intellectual talent and possibilities there. (as there are all over the world, I think) Which is one of the reasons why you look to open borders rather than close them.

Which naturally works into some thoughts concerning the acceptance of Turkey into the EU. Countering the points you raise are the fact that Turkey not only is a major component of NATO but also one of the major economies in the region, and one of the top 20 GDPs in the world. Their economy is in a lot better shape than Greece's at the moment.

Concerns about Turkish immigration and effects on democracy sound like a democracy for me, but not for thee argument and I'd suggest that language and cultural differences will serve to dampen mass immigration for the most part. At any rate, if Turkey is prosperous, there is a much lower likelihood of the kind of mass immigration you are concerned with.

As for Cyprus, the details of how that situation came about are rather complicated, but if EU accession would untangle them, that would be a point in its favor.

Finally, I'm not sure why EU membership requires you dying for the oppression of Iraqi Kurds, but to turn the question around, it seems you might be willing to open your borders to help reduce that same oppression. And at any rate, Bulgaria and Romania have some restless neighbors as well, and Slovania and Hungary also has to deal with those folks down south a bit, so the noisy neighbors argument is a bit lacking.

This is not to deny that the points you make are meaningless or that they will be ignored. I believe that if there is a decision, it will probably be a lot more emotive than should be the case. But I don't particularly accept all your arguments as ruling out the possibility.

I don't know where in Europe you are. But to expand on LJ's point, since Turkey is a member of NATO, the chances are you are

committed to fighting for Turkey if any of its neighbors attack it. And have been so committed for decades.

Fortunately for you, the Turkish army is certainly strong enough to take out any country in the Middle East (except, perhaps, Israel) without assistance. Probably any group of those which are capable of joining forces. So not to worry on the score.

I am German and open for the proposal to kick Greece out* of the EU and get Turkey in instead. I think the prospect of Turkey getting in was essential for the positive development in recent years and some of the negative ones can be attributed to EU hypocrisy (with Greece and the German Right as two of the main culprits**).
I do not say that Turkey could or should fully join to-morrow but a step-by-step integration over the next decade would find my full approval.
Btw, there are already more Turks legally living in the EU than some EU countries have citizens. 5% of the German population are Muslims, 63% have a Turkish background. The situation is not perfect but a lot of the problems are home-made and a result of anti-integration policies (guest workers were not supposed to feel at home and ghettoisation was encouraged).

*Greece should never have been allowed in in the first place.
**some Eastern European countries have started too out of fear that it culd mean less EU subsidies going their way.

I understand that al Qaeda, the Mormon Church, the NRA (in cooperation with the George Zimmerman Defense Fund) and the American company, Under Armour, are jointly working on a new device -- stealth magic underpants --- which will wick homosexuality away while comfortably secreting all manner of second amendment bulkiness therein.

Disney and its new universal touch technology were ousted from the consortium at the request of Liberty University, straight and closeted gay faculty and students alike, who decided for all of us that THAT would be too close for comfort.

The Catholic Church, counted on to be one-foot-on-the-ground bedfellows in the research and development process, may relent on this new technological leap providing that the device also include a holy water bladder within for special use by choirboys who didn't manage to make the statute of limitations cut.

It evidently has small wheels, which (combined with high center of gravity) will limit its ability to get past minor obstacles such as door threshholds. Wheelchairs and Segways have large wheels for good reasons.

pocket soldering iron?

Swiss Army food processor with attachments. Suspend it from a key chain.

The Murphy Gynecologist -- an actual guy named Murphy who tilts down out of the studio apartment wall, for single poor women after the Republicans take the Senate, too.

The portable wireless Irishman, when poetry, whiskey, and a fistfight are otherwise out of range.

Partially hydrogenated broccoli -- for the suicidal health nut. Also: fully hydrogenated broccoli for the desperate who haven't patience with half measures.

The digital pocket rubber chicken.

The combination Thomas Aquinas crucifix/taser/dildo for the busy Congressman who wants to simultaneously contemplate the mysteries, move the homeless along, and practice the virtues of selfishness with Dagny Taggart.

Sushi Doorknobs. I don't know what for, but Steve Jobs said consumers don't know what they want until you give it to them, so here it is.

"I somehow have my doubts about the lateral stability. Or this thing must be quite heavy to keep the centre of gravity low enough."

As a mechanical engineer, I've got a fair eye for such things; I would estimate that, in order to have not tipped over backwards during boarding, that gadget must weigh in excess of 300 lbs. Which isn't really outrageous compared to powered chairs.

What you're missing is that with that kind of weight concentrated really low to the ground, not only would it have fair lateral stability, but would tend to moderate the impact if it did fall over. It's almost a Weeble, IOW.

This really is a considerable breakthrough.

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