40 Interesting Devices You Never Knew Existed

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A device called a 'Teasmade' was popular in the 60s and 70s in the UK. It was an alarm clock that also made tea, ensuring it was ready upon waking up.

2. The mosquito alarm is a device used to repel teenagers by emitting a high pitched sound that can only be heard by younger people.

3. In 1770, a man invented a machine that could play a strong game of chess against a human opponent. The "android" that played the game was nicknamed The Turk (as was the machine itself). It wasn't until 1857 that it was revealed to be a hoax (a chess master was hiding in the machine).

4. Bhangmeter is the device used to measure the yield of a nuclear weapon. It is named after the Hindi word for cannabis as a joke that only a person on drugs would believe the bhangmeter to work properly.

5. Astronauts have a device called Valsalva installed into their helmet to allow them to block their noses so that they can equalize the pressure in their ears (the Valsalva maneuver).

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6Dead Hand

Dead Hand

In 1985, the Soviets developed Dead Hand, a doomsday device that is still around. In the event of a total decapitation of the Soviet/Russian chain of command, an automatic system could detect a nuclear first strike and launch a retaliatory strike completely autonomously.

7. The Kleroterion was a device that was used by ancient Athenians to randomly select citizens for state councils, offices and court juries during their period of democracy.

8. Scientists have built a device named StripeSpotter that can scan the pattern of stripes on zebras, as if it were a bar code, in order to differentiate between them.

9. In 1995, an Australian doctor created the ‘Deliverance Machine.’ It is a euthanasia device which utilizes a software called ‘Deliverance.’ Patients are posed three questions via a notebook computer. If they answer yes to all three, the machine administers a lethal dose of barbiturates.

10. From 1985-1987, the most powerful computing device Apple sold was the LaserWriter. It was one of the first generally-available laser printers. It had its own built-in CPU which was 50% faster than the Macs available at the time, which was needed to drive the printing engine.

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11Tempest Prognosticator

Tempest Prognosticator

The Tempest Prognosticator was a device that kept 12 leeches inside small bottles. They attempted to climb out of the bottles when a storm was approaching, causing a bell to ring. The number of times the bell was struck indicated the likelihood of a storm.

12. In 1961, the Canadian government hired a university professor to develop a machine named Fruit Machine to identify gay people. It was at the height of the cold war and homosexuals were thought to be more susceptible to communism.

13. The No-Contact Jacket is a defensive device that uses electric shock to discourage assailants from grabbing the wearer in unwanted situations such as in cases of assault.

14. Elink glasses is a device developed to help nearly blind people see again. It is equipped with two high-resolution screens and a 21.5 MP camera with a liquid lens and 24x zoom.

15. Space Pen can upside down, in frigid or hot conditions, underwater, and in zero gravity. Pressurized cartridge ink, a gel-like solid turns to the fluid to write. Pressurized nitrogen prevents air from mixing with the ink, so it cannot evaporate or oxidize.

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A device called Stentrode functions as a brain-computer interface (BCI). It allows people with paralyzed or missing limbs to use their neural signals or thoughts to control computers and other devices.

17. A Confederate sabotage device called a coal torpedo was actually a bomb that was designed to look like a lump of coal and meant to cause a steam ship’s boiler to explode.

18. "The Thing" was a listening device that was designed by the same guy who invented the theremin. It was disguised as a gift from the Soviets to the US ambassador to spy on the US.

19. A researcher has developed a handheld "lickable screen" device that, when inserted into your mouth, can recreate all taste sensations associated with food. It relies on electrolytes inserted into 5 gels controlling the intensity of the 5 basic flavors: sour, sweet, bitter, salt, and umami.

20. The Mosquito Laser is a device invented to kill large numbers of mosquitoes to reduce malaria infection rates. The idea has been criticized because most areas where malaria is prevalent do not have reliable electrical power.



There is a device known as a derailer which is used to intentionally derail trains that enter into unauthorized areas.

22. The foot-measuring tool ("Brannock Device") used by shoe stores was invented by Charles Brannock in 1927. He was advised to make it out of plastic so regular replacements would be needed, but he insisted on steel. Today, most Brannock Devices survive 10-15 years of daily use before wearing out.

23. The "Vaportini" is a device where users heat alcoholic beverages and become intoxicated by inhaling the resulting vapors.

24. The turboencabulator is a fictional technobabble device and an in-joke among engineers. The idea was invented in 1944 and featured in Time Magazine in 1946, confusing many readers. Companies such as GE and Chrysler have released joke data sheets and training videos for the device.

25. Japanese researchers have created a fire-alarm for the deaf. It’s a gadget that emits a wasabi mist that will wake the endangered person and get them out of the building alive.

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