It's wonderful . even when it's `un-useless'
Ever heard of Chindogu - the Japanese art of inventing ingenious everyday gadgets to resolve a particular problem? The creations are practical and have often taken time to perfect. The sad thing is they are "un-useless" - functional in themselves but not practical in the application. A few examples:
- A combined household duster and cocktail-shaker, for the housewife who wants to reward herself as she's going along.
- A tricycle - invented in America - with razors attached so it could mow the lawns as the child played.
- An all-over plastic bathing suit for people who suffer from hydrophobia, so they don't come into contact with water.
This might sound like nonsense, but since the term was coined by Japanese investor Kenji Kawakami in the mid-1990s it has spawned a best-selling language book, 101 Un-useless Japanese Inventions: the art of Chindogu. And the first exhibition of Chindogu was held in the United States only last year.
Now mainstream companies - such as mobile-phone providers - are said to be working to capitalise on the fad, with O2 allegedly looking at adding foghorn ringtones and built-in mirrors to their Japan-bound phones to appeal to the Japanese market. You read it here first.