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Weather-Predicting Clothes Pegs


September 7, 2005

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September 8, 2005 Now whilst we’re generally very bullish about the use of technology to improve life in general, we’re split on whether this next invention is a good idea. Oliver MacCarthy, a Product Design student from Brunel University in the UK, has designed an intelligent clothes peg, which predicts the weather and locks itself shut if it forecasts rain, preventing you from hanging clothes out if they are likely to get wet. Two symbols on the holder – ‘clear sky’ and ‘rain’ – indicate the outlook and are positioned so they can be distinguished from inside. Only one stalwart in the Gizmag team thinks this is a good idea, three think it’s massive technological over-investment that can be saved by checking the weather forecast and one is rolling on the floor laughing, talking about all the poor people who might buy one having to mortgage their kids at a later date when their clothes pegs go on the blink. If you think it has merit, read on for details

Each peg communicates with the forecasting equipment in the peg holder using simple electrical signals – eliminating the need for a separate microchip in every peg. If a peg is removed from the holder when it’s likely to rain, a latching mechanism locks, preventing one from using the peg. However, once removed from the holder, pegs stay open until they are returned to the holder. This means that if clothes have been left on the line for a long period of time they are not ‘locked’ onto the washing line if it rains.

Oliver explains the inspiration behind his design: “For my final year design project at Brunel, I wanted to take a fresh look at something that we all use regularly. I thought of clothes pegs because so often I’d hang washing out, only to take it in again five minutes later, absolutely soaked.

“These intelligent clothes pegs are, I hope, a fun solution to an all too common problem. Never again will people have to worry about whether or not to hang their clothes out!” says Oliver MacCarthy.

Paul Turnock, Design Director at Brunel’s School of Engineering and Design said: “Oliver has very cleverly taken a well established consumer item and re-designed it to be an intelligent, user-friendly device that could be in our shops in tomorrow’s hi-tech world.”

Now while we largely disagree with Turnock about the commercial viability of this design, maybe there’s something we are missing. Brunel regularly turns out some of the brightest ideas and most innovative industrial designers. Correspondence welcome.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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