In terms of actual usefulness, instead of plain bizarreness, the USB vacuum cleaner has got to be up there near the top. While it doesn't have the power to make your carpets come up as good as new, you can at least make sure your desktop area and keyboard are free from dust and other small debris. If you're a smoker, it's all too easy to forget to flick the ash from the end of a cigarette and wind up with a mountain of ash distributed across your keyboard. Well now with this handy device, turning your keyboard upside down and shaking it will quickly become a thing of the past.
There are also a variety of USB ashtrays available to the discerning smoker, and not only do these USB powered ones collect your ash, they also have filtering units built into them that attempt to process the smoke given off and purify it. There are a couple of different designs floating around, with either a car, or an unusual yellow man:
In addition to filtering out harmful cigarette smoke and the associated bad smells, there are also devices available to purify and filter the air surrounding your workspace, or even add moisture with a humidifier on those hot summer afternoons.
USB technology can also be put to good use in the field of heating, whether it's keeping a cup of coffee warm or keeping yourself warm with either a USB heating seat pad, or the new USB heat gloves that promise to keep frostbite at bay while you type. Interesting as these ideas are, is anybody actually going to be using their laptop on the east face of Everest? Or is anybody's flat really that cold?
For all those budding scientist types, the USB microscope is a must-have. It's big and bulky, requiring more desk space than some of the other devices mentioned here, but it can magnify things up to 200 times and display them on your monitor! How cool is that!? You could make use of it to read the tiny instructions and information printed on your motherboard, look at small interesting objects that you may discover lying around at home or at work, or simply view the contents of the dust bag of your USB vacuum:
One thing that I'll mention here for fun. While it's not strictly a USB peripheral device, it is definitely crazy: the iBuzz. For those of you that haven't seen this device yet I'll give you some clues: it's purple, it's spiky and it vibrates. No, I'm not talking about George Bush at a rave; I'm talking about a vibrator. It's a fairly recent "toy" that connects to your iPod and vibrates in time with whatever music is playing to promote a feeling of warmth and, er, sexual pleasure. Hardcore techno has suddenly gotten a whole lot more popular.
I hope you've found the products mentioned in this article as cool and unusual as I did. I'll end on a list of what I think would make great additions to the world of USB weirdness. Maybe someone out there will be inspired to make one of them. And then send it to me.
A mini desktop refrigerator, perhaps the size of one 500ml bottle, for keeping that essential chilled beer within reach.
USB electric screwdriver
Great for upgrading your machine (so long as you have a laptop or something handy to connect it to); save time undoing those troublesome HDD screws.
USB force-feedback chair
The first piece of actual USB furniture, a chair that vibrates to bass tones within games, so when you step on a mine in a first person shooter, you literally feel the earth move.
USB mini scratch deck
A tiny record player, with a rotate-able disc, pre-loaded with some mp3 scratch samples that could be used in conjunction with Media Player to scratch along to your favorite dance tracks.
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