Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 2/7/2004We should have guessed that there were more things to do with spurting liquids than cheap printers. The organic semiconductor mob get all excited about spraypainting complete integrated circuits, while the plastic LED people talk about building displays that cover walls.

Friday 2/7/2004
We should have guessed that there were more things to do with spurting liquids than cheap printers. The organic semiconductor mob get all excited about spraypainting complete integrated circuits, while the plastic LED people talk about building displays that cover walls. Hackers have modified the tech to squirt messages onto pavements from the backs of bikes, while perfume designers have pots of ideas about custom-mixed scents.

However, the inkjet's finest hour has come: ImagiNail ™. ImagiNail looks like a rather plump laser printer, but with a half-moon slot where the paper output should be. You put your hand in the slot, slip your fingers through the guide rings and psssht, you have a brand-new set of intricate nail paint designs. As well as abstract art and various textures, you can download your own bitmaps and slap 'em on.

This is the perfect mix of high technology and body modification, the breakthrough solution for the neo-pagan noughties. This is just the beginning: dot-matrix tech could be used for permanent tattoos, while a combination of this process and the semiconductor inks could embed our own custom circuits directly into our skin. Imagine getting that warm tingle when your augmented skin swaps biochemical details with a nearby person of the opposite gender, and decides compatibility is assured -- or a warning stab of pain when you pick up a burger that your epidermis recognises as Salmonella City.

That's the good side. The bad side… well, think stag party. Think drunken japes with a body printer, a digital camera and a comatose groom. Imagine being given skin that crawls with pain when you touch a car, after a court decides that taking your licence away isn't quite enough. I say stop this cybergrooming now, before we go too far!

Oh, brave new world that has such nail parlours in it.

Today's star gadget: Galactika! It's clear. It lights up. It's wireless. It's… oh, go and look for yourself. Those whacky Teutons!

And today's unstellar gripe: Web pages that intercept your right-click menu and primly inform you that "You are not authorized to right click on this site". Look, I'll right-click where I like, matey -- and if you're snotty, I've got Control-C to back me up.

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