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Bristol Zoo Gardens Experiment (2011) The Bristol Zoo Gardens announced it was conducting an experiment to gauge the sensory sensitivity of gorillas, hoping to find out "whether the scent of humans in a gorilla's environment can be picked up even after the humans have gone." The humans, however, would need to be naked in order to leave the strongest scent behind.
Christoph Schwitzer, Head of Research, explained: "We are monitoring the gorillas' behaviour following gardeners carrying out work on Gorilla Island – once fully clothed, as a control group, and again without clothes, to see if there is a significant difference."
The zoo later admitted that the experiment never took place, although it noted, "it is true that gorillas have a good sense of smell and are able to detect strong odours in their environment such as human sweat or the musk of an unknown gorilla."
Tableau iPad Restaurant (2011) CNet reported on Tableau, a new London restaurant using iPad 2 tablets as plates:
It was deeply moving to see a delicious steak served on a stunning slice of tablet technology. Info about calories and nutrients was displayed around our pasta, and it even warned us to beware of our piping-hot food. There are downsides to iPad 2-based dishes, however. The device doesn't have a rim, which means it doesn't do a good job of holding sauces and other runny items. According to other diners, the all-day breakfast was "a nightmare" due to the fried egg and beans running rampant over the table.
Doggie Dentures (2011) Pedigree pretended to sell Doggie Dentures, a product previously featured jokingly in its ad for Dentastix dog treats, on a live shopping channel (Ideal World). Anyone who called the onscreen number or went to www.doggiedentures.co.uk was told, 'dogs don't want dentures, they want Pedigree Dentastix'.
BMW M3 Pickup Truck (2011) BMW unveiled a pickup-truck version of its M3 sportscar at a Munich auto show. It boasted that it was, by far, the "sportiest" as well as fastest pickup truck available, and that it would "fire the imaginations of all motorists with a deep appreciation of top performance matched by a keen practical bent."
The M3 pickup was actually quite real, functional, and street legal. However, it was a one-off and was not heading for mass production. BMW revealed that it would use the car as a transport vehicle in its workshops.
Slow Internet Movement (2011) Melissa Block reported for NPR's All Things Considered about the "slow internet movement" which was rapidly growing in popularity in "hipster enclaves" such as Portland, Oregon and Ottumwa, Iowa. Devotees of this movement preferred to browse the internet at slow speeds, and so they purposefully chose dial-up connections over faster broadband ones.
Dr. Uri Langsam noted that slow internet could have physiological benefits since studies revealed that as the connection speed slowed down the alpha waves of the user became similar to someone who was meditating: "The thinking improves. The complexion improves. It's just amazing what it will do."
Ikea HUNDSTOL Highchair For Dogs (2011) Ikea Australia introduced the HUNDSTOL Highchair for Dogs, as part of an effort "to accommodate the growing demand for furniture that reflects today's modern family." The chair was designed with the dog's comfort in mind, with a hole in the back of the chair for the tail, and paw grips on the seat for stability. Two inset bowls could be easily removed for washing.
Helium-Lightened Planes (2011) WestJet announced a "new state-of-the-art money saving feature" aboard its flights. It was introducing "air mixed with helium in the ventilation system to lighten the weight of the aircraft."
Helium is approximately 85 per cent lighter than nitrogen, which accounts for 80 per cent of the air we breathe. With a maximum takeoff weight of more than 150,000 pounds, adding helium to the air mix will provide fuel savings of approximately three to four per cent on board WestJet’s Boeing Next-Generation 737s. This will, in turn, allow WestJet to pass the savings on to its guests.
The Huffington Post Paywall (2011) The Huffington Post announced it was introducing a paywall, requiring all employees of the New York Times to purchase a digital subscription in order to view the content on its site. However, anyone who wasn't a New York Times employee would continue to have full and free access. NYT employees would be greeted by the following message when they visited the site:
"Dear New York Times Employee, thank you for visiting The Huffington Post! We hope you've enjoyed your one free article this month. As you may know, we are now charging New York Times employees for unlimited access to our content. You can come back next moth for another free article or choose one of our NYT Employee Digital Subscription Plans ®. In our most popular plan, Times employees can view the first 6 letters of each word at no charge (including slideshows of adorable kittens). After 6 letters, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber."
The Huffington Post added, "of course, stories that aggregate falsehoods to support an administration's efforts to take the country into a disastrous, decade-long war based on lies will always remain free."
Land Rover’s Self-Levelling Tax Disc Holder (2011) Land Rover noted that new legislation required that a vehicle's tax disc "must be displayed within parameters that do not exceed 10 degrees". This legislation had been introduced because of Traffic Enforcement officers who were suffering from Repetitive Neck Strain (RNS) from looking at sharply angled tax discs all day.
In order to make sure all Land Rover owners complied with the law, Land Rover had developed a "self-levelling tax disc holder" that always kept the tax disc at the legally required angle. The holder employed "Contra-Motion technology" to achieve this.
Edible Advertising (2011) NPR's Marketplace reported that advertisers were experimenting with genetically engineering food so that it would display advertisements. For instance, it was possible to engineer burger patties so that as they cooked an image of "Mr. Pickle" appeared on the burger. At 160 degrees Fahrenheit, Mr.Pickle would even start to wave.
One ice-cream maker had also created cones with coupons inside the ice cream. The secret coupon code was revealed after you took a bite of the ice cream.
But consumers seemed wary of these food advertisements. One shopper said, "20 percent [off] isn't worth having to stare at ads at dinner."
The Munchable Metro Herald (2011) As a way to encourage recycling, and to add flavor to its stories, the UK Metro Herald announced plans to issue the newspaper in edible form. It explained:
"The printing process sees ingredients such as corn starch, vegetable oil, gum arabic, water and citric acid cooked into a stodgy paste and thin sheets. The paste is poured on to the sheets under silk meshes arranged in the form of headlines, pictures and articles. Printing takes a few hours overnight – several seconds to print each page and slightly longer to dry. The finished products are even given a light vanilla scent."
Richard Branson Buys Pluto (2011) Richard Branson announced that he had bought Pluto "for an undisclosed sum." His intent was to have it reinstated as a planet, which he planned to do by constructing a deep space vehicle that would drag asteroids and space debris to Pluto, thereby increasing its mass until it had reached the requisite size to be considered a planet.
He hoped that Pluto's return to planet status would "set an example for struggling entrepreneurs facing setbacks."
Gmail Motion (2011) Google debuted Gmail Motion, designed to allow people to write emails using only gestures, which Gmail would track using your computer webcam and a "spatial tracking algorithm." Command gestures included: open a message by making a motion with your hands as if you're opening an envelope, reply by pointing backward over your shoulder with your thumb, and reply all by pointing backward with both thumbs.
BMW Royal Edition (2011) BMW ran ads in UK newspapers announcing that in honor of the forthcoming wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, a special "Royal Edition" of the BMW M3 Couple would be available for one month. It would come in three colors: Regal Red, Bridal White and Imperial Blue.
It would also be adorned with a commemorative "Will" emblem.
3D Eye Surgery (2011) Jen Sands-Windsor reported for NPR's Morning Edition about a new surgical procedure that made people's eyes "act like 3D glasses," eliminating the need to wear special glasses when watching 3D movies or TV.
One recipient of the surgery raved, "Seeing 'Gnomeo & Juliet' without those horrible glasses was life-changing."
Unfortunately, a side-effect of the surgery was blurred vision when not looking at a 3D screen, but the developer of the procedure was working on corrective lenses "that will allow our patients to see real life normally."
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