Day 70: Inventors Everywhere

A lot of people have Secret Plans. Today I’m hanging out with a bunch of inventors who answer important questions like:

  • What if brainwave measurement were part of live music performance?
  • What if my t-shirt could help me avoid running into things?
  • How can I make and ride a ridiculously tall bicycle?
  • Can I trust strangers to cut my hair?

First thing, though, I’m off to Peet’s to sit and get some of my own SP work done, and also watch the cute barista wrestle an unexpected number of balloons into submission.

A morning show and free WiFi. This place rules.

Remember Russ and Sara? Good friends, hard-core scientists. They’ve got a meeting in my neighborhood with Dave Stringer, an excellent and innovative musician. I went to a concert of his last night, and had a fantastic time.

The meeting (at Ti Couz) is about an idea they’ve been working on which involves EEG data and musical performance. They’ve done a few successful test runs already, and it’s a great project. We spend our lunchtime talking about electronics, data formats, and spaceships in Italy.


How do you find volunteers willing to have their brainwaves recorded while they listen to a concert? It turns out you just ask; a lot of people love to help with experiments like this.

In the afternoon, Russ and Sara and I walk through the Mission to Paxton Gate and Delessio. It’s fun to show them around the neighborhood.

This evening, my muse and I are headed downtown. Christine and Shannon have invited us to the Instructables office for an inventors’ party. If you’re not familiar with this company, take a look at their site. (I’ve posted one tiny project on this site.)

As far as I can tell, here’s what a typical work day is like at Instructables:

  • Write down crazy invention ideas on the office whiteboard.
  • Post the ideas on the website.
  • Go to lunch.
  • When you get back, look at the site. Random inventors all over the world have probably started building some of your ideas already, and they might have sent you questions.
  • Start building your favorites from the list, right in the office.
  • Repeat tomorrow.

> But some ideas are too wacky or crazy, right?
Actually, no. That’s why it’s fun. For example, here’s some of what we saw tonight at the July 2008 Show and Tell:

DSCN1106 DSCN1109
A plaster copy of the inventor’s face with a speaker in the mouth, which can be used as a somewhat unwieldy bicycle horn. See, I told you. Everything is in play here.

DSCN1119 DSCN1118
A very very tall bicycle.

A circuit sewn into a patch of denim, for wearing your data.

A method for getting a free haircut: Walk around the city with scissors and a sign “Help cut my hair – Take two snips”

A trumpet modified to work with Guitar Hero.

An integrated bike-mounted stereo system.

A garment which lets you feel nearby objects just before you run into them.

Okay, stop laughing. Someday, a few of the people at this event are going to change the world so profoundly that there will be university buildings and national holidays named after them. You’ll get an extra day off work, and it will have all started right here.

My muse and I leave a little early to go have a glass of wine with the guys at Mission Beach Cafe, but you can see the rest of tonight’s inventions here.

Random assertion: At some point, every inventor realizes that a human lifespan is not enough time to finish all of his or her projects. That’s what makes them such a welcoming crowd.

Steganographic data: 1846/5.5

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