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The futur of the improbable by Katia Elkaim

Dernière mise à jour : 2 mars 2021

When I was a child, my parents took me to see a documentary that described, in the most burlesque way, totally crazy and useless inventions. I enjoyed it and I still have the feeling of well-being in the pit of my stomach that I got from that intense fun. Then, like a reminder, a journalist's column the other morning about a ‘connected barbecue’, made me think of that great cinematic moment and I wanted to find the movie at all costs.

I’ll immediately cut the suspense short: I still don't know its title! However, I did get my hands on a few nuggets that I’d like to share with you.

First of all, I discovered Matt Benedetto and his useless inventions, which he himself defines as "objects that nobody asked for" and "solutions to problems that don't really exist". I can't resist the urge to describe the big toe helmet, to avoid the pain of bumping it, or the Zoom meeting ‘shutter’.

The web is full of inventions that all have one thing in common: they are absolutely useless, if not perfectly cumbersome.

The 19th and 20th centuries were also fertile in this category. The amphibious bicycle, the couple's pipe, the meowing machine or the piano for bedridden people; all had an inimitable charm and poetry.

From 2016 to 2019, the prize-winning inventions of the Lépine competition were the H-energy Mobile Granulator, the Web Application for diabetic protocols, the Eydi Beacon for locating and signalling to the emergency services and the xTag, a personalised profile applied to the management of food allergies and intolerances. While these discoveries are undoubtedly very ingenious and useful, they do not have the charm of the chimeric objects of yesteryear.

In 1964, the winner was a certain Lasserre who invented the "Somnidor", a machine that induced sleep.