"The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions" features all sorts of inventions that in theory could be quite useful but in reality are quite ridiculous. Take, for example, the noodle eater's hair guard, which protects your hair from getting splashed as you eat soup. Or the hay fever hat, designed to solve the problem of finding yourself with a runny nose and without a tissue. The Japanese have an actual word for these kinds of inventions: "chindogu." In 2005, MIT launched their first annual "Unuseless" competition; Barry Kudrowitz and Bill Fienup took home the prize with their ketchup crapper, or Aut-To-Mato, a motorized, pressurized ketchup dispenser.
The Aut-To-Mato is basically a remote-control-driven car with spinning arms and a compressed-air cartridge that releases air into a ketchup bottle. When the compressed air gets pumped into the bottle, the pressurized bottle dispenses the ketchup. The idea was triggered by the noises ketchup bottles make when they are nearly empty; Barry and Bill wanted to make a ketchup bottle that walks backward to your plate and poops ketchup. They came up with the idea through what they call association mapping, a process in which you come up with innovative ideas by making associations -- like joke theory.
Bill and Barry have also invented the Nerf Atom Blaster, biopsy needle, a one-handed Band-Aid dispenser that automatically unwraps the bandage, a Slinky escalator to exercise a slinky (perpetual stairs), a bike that walks when you pedal, an outdoor treadmill that rolls down the sidewalk when you run, and a drinking fountain that dispenses beer.
To see more unuseless inventions, check out "The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions." Special thanks to Barry Kudrowitz and Bill Fienup for sharing their invention on our show.