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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Good Robot!

Digital emotions aren’t new. Tamagochi, a children’s craze back in the 90’s, gave us a virtual pet that came with emotions, and responded to stylised pleasure and punishment.

Now engineers are looking to put that concept into the next advance in robotic control.

“Fuzzy logic is great for washing machines, and determinate, adaptive algorithms work for menial tasks. If you look to the animal world, the higher orders of animals are trainable not through direct logic and signals, but through pleasure and pain,” says Doctor Gerard Jung, lead roboticist in Germany’s Klein-Bach Laboratories.

“The beauty of pleasure and pain receptors means that the robot is trained not by a set of pre-calculated goals, rather the various environmental factors, including and especially humans, determine what is right and wrong,” he explains, “This way we let the robot ‘figure out’ what it is meant to do, create its own goals and boundaries. It’s very much like training a small dog or a young child. It’s not quite ‘right and wrong’ in a moralistic sense, it’s physically based at this stage.”

He says that the technology will ease the pathway of getting robots into the household and would lead to eventual robot ‘buddies’, one that could listen and actively sympathise with their owners.ChesterLogoSmall