The Sweet Smell of Silence

Sufferers of parcopresis, the inability to defecate for fear of privacy, can now budge their issues easier. Hotoa Industries of Quebec have released a new design of toilet bowl that will muffle the sound of falling faeces and the resulting sonics of the splash.

The bowl uses a patented design involving a sophisticated set of baffles designed to disperse, muffle and reflect the sound of all goings-on within the bowl, resulting in a more private poop.

“This is ground-breaking,” says Marius Ferrare, Senior Engineer and designer of the Shhpoop Toilet Bowl, “This invention will reduce the rates of constipation and subsequently save industry many millions of dollars in time off and time wasted waiting for others to vacate a shared toilet area.”

Statistics show that more than one in ten people suffer from “toilet shyness”, a condition that can be exacerbated by echoing cubicles and toilets located close to high foot-traffic areas. As a result, Marius explains, people who have parcopresis often take a long time to finish their business, or hold on until they can return to the privacy of their own home.

“It’s a real concern. We toyed with introducing a sound reduction system inside the cubicle but this was both ineffective and hard to standardise. Since most cubicles are open at the top and bottom, there was no way to ensure the sound would not propagate. The bowl, however, presents an almost entirely closed and much more predictable system,” he says, “Based on this, we focused our attentions on redesigning the bowl.”

The resulting product, looking similar to a toilet with turbo-chargers attached, costs only a tenth more than a standard ceramic issue and can reduce the overall noise by thirteen decibels on average, depending on the posture of the patron.

“This is a significant reduction. It’s like the difference between someone talking and someone mumbling. Combined with ambient background noise, this device would eliminate the need to cough to cover up tell-tale signs,” he says, “We shall see that the Shpoop will become the new normal for offices and shopping malls.”

The company is expected to release the bowl to the market later this year and is already making plans to design a similar device that would retrofit existing bowls.

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Robo Traffic

Distracted drivers are not at fault, according to new research. The Robotic Automotive Administration yesterday announced that car manufacturers are responsible for the traffic and injuries caused by distracted drivers, not the drivers themselves.

“It’s simple, really. Humans are designed to talk, to look, to interact for short periods of time. They aren’t designed to drive long distances in complicated environments in sub-par conditions. They get tired. They get emotional. So why are we blaming the human when they feel the need to check their social media?” says the RAA release, “If we give a knife to a toddler, can we blame him if he cuts himself?”

Vehicle technology, the report says, has improved in areas of efficiency and comfort, but it has failed to keep up with the trend of mobile phones and social media. The report goes on to cite the lack of a push from car manufacturers to develop automated cars. While it makes no absolute claims, it does imply that they have their own agenda for keeping people behind the wheel.

“We cannot blame social media. We cannot blame communication technology. Above all, we cannot blame the user. We have the capability (to created automated vehicles). We have cameras and sensors, actuators and high speed processors, navigation and traffic warnings. There is absolutely no reason why we cannot see automated cars on the road, which would alleviate congestion, reduce the number of serious incidents and improve the quality of life of all commuters.”

Bee-Gone, Traffic!

Nature has inspired town planners in an unusual way. The hexagonal pattern of honey-comb is chosen by bees for the close-packed arrangement and efficient use of space and this has led city designers to create plans for blocks to be six sided.

A new ‘hexasect’ street system is being trialed in China in a bid to curb traffic before it begins. The ‘hexasect’ design was first suggested over a decade ago, yet only recently, with the aid of advanced computer generated trials, it has been shown that congestion can be reduced by more than a quarter compared with traditional square or Cartesian based road systems.

“It’s counter-intuitive to the way we would normally plan a city,” Xian Xiao, spokesperson for the HUA group in charge of planning the new town, “Yet the simulations show that there is no better way. Roads with one and only one intersection and a clear set of rules reduces the need for negotiation. It scales incredibly well.”

The new concept also allows for tighter packing of building, reducing the strain on infrastructure, leading to a more efficient city that is cheaper overall to operate.

“The naming of streets may take some getting used to, since there are no long-running streets, however we are confident that this is a minor drawback to a very enticing prospect.”ChesterLogoSmall

Super Staples to the Rescue

The properties of recycled paper is forcing staple manufacturers to rethink the archaic staple design.

The rise in the percentage of recycled material in paper is blamed for the recent move to redesign the common staple to create ‘Super-Staples’. More recycled material amounts in a paper that it tougher than pure pulp, says Roger Tasco, leading Technical Expert at Sawmill Papers in Hampshire, England.

“Recycled paper has come a long way: the microscopic inclusions are smaller and fewer than they used to be. You can’t really feel the difference with your hand, but to a staple it’s like passing through smooth peanut butter versus crunchy. It used to be that you could safely staple ten pages with a number 56, now that number has dropped to nine or even eight. This means more jams, more wasted staples and paper.”

Average Penetration of #56 Staple versus the Reported Content of Recycled Material
Average Penetration of #56 Staple versus the Reported Content of Recycled Material

Rather than forcing stationery users to upgrade their staplers to hold larger, stronger staples, Roger is behind a nationwide move compelling staple manufacturers to change the design of staples.

“We’ve found that small alterations in the manufacturing process, say by using a few microns more steel per unit and honing the tips to a razor-sharp point brings the staples back into line with their expected capabilities. And, of course, non-recycled paper doesn’t stand a chance!”

But Roger is not content to stop there. He proposes that the archaic design of staples can be vastly improved, with ideas including angled barbs, fluted and channeled shafts, a beveled top edges.

Regarding his thoughts on these new Super-Staples’ he says, “They (Super-Staples) would be good for the stationery industry as a whole, only these puppies will have to come with a safety warning. They’ll be downright deadly.”

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