Cushioning the blow of flatulence
In the visually oriented Digital Age, image might make the world go around, but it's smell that makes us finally get up and take out the garbage.
Angelina Jolie might fill theaters but aroma sells popcorn. A mountain view might up the asking price, but a pig farm hidden behind trees certainly lowers the closing price.
Yet somehow, our brain's olfactory factory is always underestimated, despite research that shows it deserves more attention.
In December the Associated Press reported on an experiment in which college students given earplugs and blindfolds successfully "triangulated" an open field to follow a trail scented with chocolate. Not only did the experiment redefine the human capacity for smell, but it also set a new low for how silly college students are willing to look just to get a sugar buzz.
But even if the general public considers itself nostril neutral, gadget-makers know better and are developing devices that promise to have a profound effect on our quality of life. Unfortunately, the end result can be a device that, though extremely useful, will never make it onto anyone's wish list for fear that such a list might fall into the wrong hands.
For example, the good folks over at GasBGon.com have developed a seat cushion that absorbs both the odor and the sound our backsides emit whenever nature calls in such a way that compels us to echo the sentiment. The Web site claims GasBGon is a "fun, yet serious" solution to "malodorous flatulence," or "crepitating," or -- for those of us who flunked the verbal portion of the SATs due to a heavy breakfast -- "breaking wind."
Since studies suggest the average person passes gas 14 times a day year-round (not counting Oktoberfests), the site claims the cushion's replaceable carbon filter will last six months for a woman and about three months for a man -- or, by my math, about half of Super Bowl Sunday. Yeah, that sounds about right.
GasBGon was developed by soon-to-be-rich husband-and-wife team Jim and Sharron Huza. Apparently, it looks like they took the phrase "working through marital problems" and ran with it. Jim's bio includes 25 years of on-the-job experience as an air filtration engineer. So, if he told his wife, "Honey, we can work through this," then you can bet he had the credentials to back that up. Anyone who's married knows that having a spouse with a résumé like that has got to pay dividends over the long haul.
The cushions come in various benign-looking patterns with names that are only inside-joke funny, from a checkered flag "winner's circle" print to a leopard-skin "silent but deadly" design.
Each cushion costs $22 and extra filters are about $10. There seem to be no other hidden costs, although one imagines there could be regulations about the disposal of used filters, sort of like car batteries. Check with your local civil authorities.
Of course, one of the limitations of the cushion is you have to be sitting on it for it to work, and even if they eventually weave this technology into underwear, we all know how sometimes things can, well, escalate.
But once you're out of GasBGon's cloaking range, the ToTo Deodorization Fan might soon be waiting to provide even more cover. Using similar carbon-filtering technology, the tiny, palm-size fan plugs directly into a wall outlet and promises to forever remove that "essence of Bangladesh landfill" that seems to emanate in your loo before, during and especially after your visits.
Though not yet widely available, the fan lists for about $15 on gizmodo.com, and cartridge refills cost $5. Best of all, the ToTo deodorizer is automatic, so unlike a bathroom spray, you won't have to go out and buy flowers or a diamond ring (or agree to finally see a doctor) if you forget to use it for the 100th time.
So, while technology might not ever fulfill all its promises (turning each of us into an immortal genius with a flying car), it seems ready to at least let Digital Slobs put jalapeños back in our scrambled eggs. Well, as long as we agree not to eat them standing up.