Dan Rattiner's Stories

The Latest: After My Cursive Writing Spellchecker, Meet My Back Scratching Drone

A few weeks ago, I announced in this magazine my quest to become instantly filthy rich by inventing a new Silicon Valley gizmo that Facebook or Google or Apple would quickly snatch up for a bil’ or two.

My first effort was the Longhand Spellchecker Bracelet. It was for people who still write longhand because they never learned how to type. For typists, there is already a spellchecker. It’s built right into the writing software. You spell a word wrong and the writing software immediately fixes it behind as you type further along. It’s a good thing.

But it doesn’t work for us non-typists. We need the Longhand Spellchecker Bracelet. Snap it on, pick up a pen and write down what you want to say. If you make a mistake, the bracelet buzzes and shakes gently on your wrist. You stop. Then the bracelet issues a white spray to cover up the mistake, pushes your hand gently back to the beginning of that word and then guides your hand forward to make you spell it correctly.

I grant that a Longhand Spellchecker Bracelet would appeal to a contracting market as more people learn typing and fewer people write longhand. (Schools no longer teach longhand—they call it cursive writing whatever that is—to our young.) At present, however, there is a market. And an advantage of this product is that it is also a learning tool. Write wrong, it goes back and guides you through writing right. You learn that. Writing software spellcheck does not do that. There is no learning curve for you. If anything, it makes you just not care. The fix is made by the program.

Well, the drawbacks apparently outweighed the plusses with this product, because since I announced the Longhand Spellchecker Bracelet, I have heard nothing from Mr. Zuckerberg, Cook or Schmidt. Not a peep.

But I am not giving up. This month, I am launching another gizmo into the fray, namely my Voice Activated Back Scratching Drone.

The Voice Activated Back Scratching Drone is exactly what it says it is. It lives on the night table by your bed, its rotator paddles folded up in beetle wing fashion one atop the other so as not to take up much room. It is one-foot-long and is named Phil.

“Phil,” you may ask, “let’s do it.”

“Let’s do it” is my copyrighted and patented command that causes Phil’s rotors to snap into place, his big eyes to glow and his undercarriage to pop down wheels.

You sit on the bed and take off your shirt.

“Come,” is my next copyrighted and patented command.

Phil whirrs, rises up vertically and flutters over to the bed (you train it to your voice—it’s in the instruction manual how to do that) and commences to hover eight inches behind the center of your back.

“Begin.”

An eight-inch-long metal arm telescopes out from Phil’s cockpit, issues small metal fingers at the tip, places them on your spine between your shoulder blades, and commences to scratch gently. Phil will answer to six different specific backscratching commands. They are “higher, lower, a bit to the right, a bit to the left, harder, softer” and the final copyrighted and patented command, which is “That’s IT.”

With that, Phil retracts its arm, hovers off two feet backwards, comes around to your bare chest, looks you in the eye, takes a little bow and makes a chirping sound. You then can issue your final command, which is “Return to base.”

With that, Phil returns carefully to the exact spot on your night table from whence he took off, folds back up and shuts down. It’s important that during Phil’s ministrations you do NOT move anything around on your night table because Phil is programmed to land exactly at the spot from whence he earlier took off.

Phil comes in blue for the men, pink for the women, brushed stainless steel for those who do not identify with a particular gender and red with white polka dots for the kids. It runs on two AA batteries, which will keep it powered for approximately 50 back-scratch sessions. It’s a perfect gift for Christmas. Find Phil online or at a store near you.

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