Inventions





Created by German artist Oliver Sturm, the Gebetomat is a single-person structure modeled on a photo booth which offers hundreds of pre-recorded prayers in dozens of languages. These apparently have been popping up in Europe, most recently at the University of Manchester, where a Gebetomat was installed re-branded as a “Pray-O-Mat”. Just insert 50 eurocents and pick a selection from Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or various indigenous faiths — whatever you need. This seem to harken to a future in which the devout will turn to robots for their doses religion. No word on the possible creation of a curses-on-demand automated hexing booth:


[disinfo ed.’s note: Nikola Tesla was born 156 years ago today. To mark the occasion, we’re republishing a disinformation original essay by Katy Schiel, originally posted on July 1, 2002.] Revered as…


Boing Boing on a bizarre, pioneering musical instrument, suppressed in its day, which built on occultist concepts and attempted to unify the senses:

You don’t play the ANS synthesizer with a keyboard. Instead you etch images onto glass sheets covered in black putty and feed them into a machine that shines light through the etchings, trigging a wide range of tones. It’s a nearly forgotten Russian synthesizer designed by Evgeny Murzin in 1938. The synth was named after and dedicated to the experimental composer and occultist Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin (1872–1915).

Today it sits behind a rope at the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture, almost forgotten and seldom used. A few artists have recorded albums with it over the years, mostly notably the late occultists/electronic musicians Coil who traveled to Russia in 2002:






Created in Japan, an eerie musical instrument that creates synesthesia — the blurring of the line between senses. Different categories such as fried foods, dairy, and vegetables produce different sorts of sounds:

EaTheremine (Eat + Theremin) is a fork-type instrumen that enables users to play various sounds by eating foods. These sounds are changed, according to resistance values of foods attached on the fork.



To be unveiled in New Orleans — a home equipped with a drone synthesizer that produces pleasing tones reflecting the surroundings. I hope this architectural innovation catches on everywhere:

Demonstration of latest Quintron invention called THE SINGING HOUSE. This is an analog “drone synth” can be installed into any building in order to provide its inhabitants with a pleasing chord that is constantly changed by the weather. Preliminary studies have show that these soothing sounds can bring mental relaxation and healing to the modern home or institution. The music is actually played by the skies above. No two days sound the same.



If you live in New York or another major city, you know all too well the frustration caused by slow walkers clogging thoroughfares. This highlights how a simple bicycle bell can be put to use in daily situations to alter people’s behaviors for the better and improve life for everyone.



The device created by Ali Aliev, a researcher at University of Texas Dallas, uses threadlike carbon nanotubes. When rapidly heated, they create a mirage effect similar in principle to a stretch of highway on a very hot day. Perfect for keeping a small object hidden:


From the vault of British Pathe, a 1922 newsreel on the portable calling and music device which was that year’s hot accessory for the savvy urban woman on the street. The brave new technological advances of the past few years are maybe not as novel as one might believe, and I think these could be a popular niche item if sold today, even:

World’s First Mobile Phone (1922). Found by a researcher in the Pathe vaults, this clip from 1922 shows that 90 years ago, mobile phone technology and music on the move was not only being thought of but being trialled.


A nonsensical waste of time? Goofy conceptual art? Or a magical cross-sensory experiment? A device that converts any word that you type into a cocktail, via Morskoiboy: My piece has buttons working…


The Atlantic traces the history of military disguise in the twentieth century, the breakthrough realization that pixelated, “digital”-looking camouflage patterns work better than the traditional swirly ones, and the future of making…


Did you know that the iPod is basically a ripoff of a German transistor radio from the 1950s? Via the Atlantic, selections from Bill Buxton’s collection of little-known gadgets (such as early…



The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is into historical inventions, including the revolutionary, strange, and ill-conceived — everything from primitive 45 rpm record players to radiation monitors. However, some items…


Auto-Ink-31Torn over which faith is the true path to follow? Strap yourself in and receive a “randomly” (i.e. divinely) selected tattoo of a religious symbol on your forearm. Via Make Magazine:

Chris Eckert created a CNC tattoo machine with a twist. Auto Ink is a three axis numerically controlled sculpture. Once the main switch is triggered, the operator is assigned a religion and it’s corresponding symbol is tattooed onto the person’s arm. The operator does not have control over the assigned symbol. It is assigned either randomly or through divine intervention, depending on your personal beliefs.