Christian Long

Zach Kaplan and Keith Schacht: Toys for the Future

In TED Talks on April 18, 2010 at 10:47 am

Extra credit reflection by HAGEN F.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Zach Kaplan and Keith Schacht: Toys for the Future

Developments in technology are meant to better us as a society. The more improvements we make to our everyday life, the more content we are and the easier our lives become. With new technology, Zach Kaplan and Keith Schacht are trying to enhance the toy market for children. Their ideas provide safety and ease to toys for kids.

The first idea is to create the fastest slide ever made, with the use of magnetism.

Using magnets, you could levitate a board off a slide with the use of magnets that repel each other. Then by using an aluminum tube, create a tunnel that slows down the riders when they enter the tube. Aluminum has startling properties that slow down magnets when aluminum surrounds the magnets. By using this technology, we can create a fast, fun-provoking slide without too much danger involved. The magnets on the board are housed in a bendable, ‘spongy’ material. That spongy material is a safety feature because if one were to fall of the board the board would not hurt you because of the material it is made from. There are some negative aspects to this idea. I wonder as to what would happen if you were riding down the slide and tilted to one side. Would the magnets force on one side of the board be lessened while the other increased? If this was to happen, it would seem like the board would flip over and the rider fall out. Another idea I was experimenting with is: if the slide would be the fastest ever created, then the deceleration process would have to be very gradual. The aluminum tube does slow down the magnets, but how quickly? Upon entry, would the board slow down instantly causing the rider to ‘rocket’ forward? If the kinks were all dealt with, then this could be a promising idea for an amusement park ride.

The second idea is one that appeals to me greatly.

It is about having a ten-foot pole that you can walk around with. Now, the length is not limited to only being ten feet; you could have six feet, or possibly twelve feet. Kaplan and Schacht’s idea was to be able to make a soccer goal out of a couple poles that fold up. This would allow anyone to carry around a soccer goal in his or her car, and then be set up where space would allow. I am a soccer athlete and know that right now, soccer coaches use little goals about two feet by two feet for their teams to use in practice. A lot of the time, there is not enough goals to go around to soccer coaches, or they practice in an area where there are none. Having an official sized soccer goal that is light, takes up very little space, and can be constructed easily would be beneficial to coaches and teams alike. Moving goals and setting up different types of fields for different sports would be easier too. There could be “fold-away” field goal post, soccer goals, track hurdles, and hitting nets for baseball. Having all these would allow football fields to be converted into soccer fields and allow for easier storage of different sports equipment. This will revolutionize sports equipment and ease the availability of equipment for all people interested in outdoor sports.

One of the coolest, and most interesting ideas that these two men told of was the liquid that evaporated very quickly.

As well as having water gun fights in your house with no water damage to your furniture, the liquid is non-conductive, unlike water is. The liquid has no destructive tendencies towards electronics at all. Now, we are not going to replace water with this liquid, but having water balloon fights and water gun fights will have no damaging effects towards your phones, computers, or any other electronic devices. This liquid evaporates about 25 times faster than that of water’s evaporation, which is why it does not make items fell wet because it has already evaporated. The liquid could be used as a coolant for machines and people alike to help provide overheating. This liquid has two properties that trump those of water’s and they may help us to develop greater items and devices that rethink what it means to be wet.

Next item the men talked about was the shape-retaining plastic.

When I think of this product, I see large shape-retaining plastic boxes. When not in use, these boxes could be pushed into thinner boxes (with no holding capabilities) and be slid into small ‘crevices’ to store away. Although this is a nice idea, once molded it would be hard to put the boxes back in their original shape. What this would account for is boxes that are misshapen, and do not fit well in certain spaces. That is the one major downside to this product because to get the object you folded into its original shape, you would need some kind of mold. Then you would have to have the mold and the box, which would mean more storage space needed. Unlike the unraveling poles mentioned in the video, this plastic would not be beneficial for storage purposes. Since the plastic is bendable, if you were to stack heavy items on top of the boxes mad from shape-retaining plastic, the boxes would be pushed down and crush their items inside.

The next product that was mentioned confused me because I am not sure of the benefit or the actual function of the product.

The product is ink that can read the curvature of the pages it is on. This could be the new high-tech bookmark for readers to use. It would probably be more expensive when compared to a regular bookmark, but it creates a nice outline of ink on the book and is a lot more technologically savvy. The ink seems like a cross between ink and a computer. It creates a link between the two, and allows for easier access to books that we may have misplaced or simply left behind at work or school.

The last product is a color matrix that can detect smells and change colors to correspond with those smells.

Now I think having this on a milk carton is a bit superfluous because we all can smell when milk has gone bad. This technology has great use in other genres though, especially with firefighters or anyone who uses gas masks or oxygen tanks. Now, I am not completely sure, but I believe that the matrix cannot detect gases not have no scent because the matrix changes colors because of scent. So it can not detect gases like carbon monoxide or dangerous gases with no apparent smell. It can detect harmful gases to better alert people as to what they smell and if it is dangerous. This could be another alarm for houses. In addition to having smoke detector alarms and burglar alarms, there could be a smell detector alarm.

These new technologies can help benefit society by placing new ease and safety properties to our homes and businesses. By creating a safer environment for people, we create less fear and more knowledge. By creating ease we create more available time and less strain on our ever-stressful lives.

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