Technology from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy That We Wish Existed
The Hitchhiker's Trilogy is one of the best works of science fiction ever penned. As supremely funny as it is intelligent, the series chronicles the adventures of a band of intergalactic misfits as they traverse the universe by way of a stuck-out thumb. Along the way, they trek to prehistoric Earth, converse with a supercomputer the size of a small city, and discover the answer to life, the universe, and everything. (Though sadly, they never actually learn the question.)
Featured in the story are a great many futuristic inventions that -- for the most part -- better the lives of those who use them. Here are eight that we wish existed right this very moment!
8. Nutrimatic Drinks Dispenser
The nutrimatic drinks dispenser is the marriage of a Star Trek-style replicator and a modern-day vending machine. Douglas Adams describes it thusly:
"When the 'Drink' button is pressed it makes an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject's taste buds, a spectroscopic analysis of the subject's metabolism, and then sends tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centres of the subject's brain to see what is likely to be well received."
So, theoretically it should produce a beverage that is not only keenly tailored to suit one's metabolic needs, but also tastes pretty good to boot.
However in the book, this rarely happens. The machine instead vends a concoction described as "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea."
7. Crisis Inducer
The crisis inducer is a watch-like device that convinces its wearer that an emergency is taking place, thus boosting the user's awareness and energy levels by engaging the fight-or-flight response. Crises can conveniently be set at any desired severity.
With luck, a creative software designer will translate this idea into a downloadable app available on any smartphone.
6. Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses
Want to develop "a relaxed attitude to danger"? Simply slot one of these glasses over your eyes. "At the first hint of trouble they turn completely black and thus prevent you from seeing anything that might alarm you."
Just make sure not to wear them while driving.
5. Doors with Personality
Opening doors is often a mundane experience, so why not give the job to doors that actually enjoy their work? Doors manufactured by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation come equipped with chirpy personalities, and love nothing more than to open and close. Not only that, they cheerily and profusely thank anybody who decides to walk through.
4. Matter Transference Beams
The matter transference beam is directly comparable to the transporter in Star Trek. It works by "tearing you apart atom by atom, flinging those atoms through the sub-ether, and then jamming them back together again..." If rendered from sci-fi to real life, it would undoubtedly herald a revolution in transportation.
Take note, however: When used for the first time, the process isn't altogether pleasurable, leaving the user dazed, hung-over, and often with an ear-splitting headache; "not as much fun as... a good solid kick in the head."
3. Point of View Gun
Simple in its purpose, the point of view gun causes the target to see things from the point of view of the shooter. If used responsibly, imagine what good such a "weapon" might do in Washington!
2. Infinite Improbability Drive
Perhaps the hallmark invention of The Hitchhiker's Trilogy, the infinite improbability drive allows for faster-than-light travel. Operating on a curious facet of quantum theory -- that the atoms of an object are immensely likely to be concentrated in one place, but that there's an immeasurably small chance that just one of them might be far off somewhere else -- the drive controls probability to transport all of an object's atoms anywhere in the universe almost instantaneously. Doesn't make sense? That's okay. None of the characters in the book understood it either.
1. Advanced Towels
As everyone knows, the towel is the most useful thing a person can own. Capable of providing warmth, comfort, and protection, a towel can even be used as a gas mask or a weapon for hand-to-hand weapon. You'd be daft to leave home without one.
Though towels are already indispensable, it's high time that they be adapted to the rigors of modern life. In the book, towels are enhanced with complex circuitry, fortified with food replacements, and reinforced with industrial-strength seams. Companies and inventors can start there.