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I asked Amazon to show me weird tech gadgets. I still haven't recovered

Sometimes, a simple quest can turn into so much more. Or less.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer
Amazon boxes sitting on a porch

There are moments in one's life when one's mood expresses a certain need.

I don't know whether it was the fact that mercury had finally stopped being in retrograde -- or whether the full moon had finally done its worst -- but I really wanted to see something that would give my life a new meaning.

Or, at least, something that would make me reconsider the meaning of technology.

So I drifted to the repository of all things material, Amazon, to see what it could offer. 

Deliberately and specifically, I searched for "weird tech gadgets."

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This has been my marginal penchant of late, ever since I began living with a robot cat.

What could Amazon offer to beat that? How, indeed, would Amazon's vast inner intelligence define "weird"?

I was uplifted to see that there were 2,000 results. Clearly, I was about to descend into a vortex of outré splendor.

You call this weird?

But then I opened my eyes. First on offer was the, oh, xsainlao Newtons Kinetic Art Perpetual Motion Machine, Desktop Decoration Toys, Science Physics Gadgets, Non-Stop Rolling Ball Toys, Balance Stress Relief Creative Gifts for Friends and Family.


This wasn't weird at all. This was the sort of thing executives used to put on their desks. When they had desks. In the 1980s.

Well, I suppose some of the product description was weird. Sample: "All parts of this product are purely handmade, and you need to assemble them yourself when you buy them back. Therefore, you need to have the basis for making handmade products."

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The basis? You mean hands?

Next on the weird Amazon results -- or, rather, the Amazon weird results -- was the Novium Hoverpen 2.0 - Futuristic Luxury Pen Made With Aerospace Alloys, Unique Aesthetic, Free Spinning Executive Pen, Cool Gadgets, Birthday Gifts for Men & Women (Space Black, Basic).

Which merely raised two questions: What? And Why?

I noticed that these particular results had been sponsored. So these companies had paid to be in the search category of "weird"?

Amazon chooses weird. I choose to mutter to myself

I scrolled down a little further, wondering what Amazon itself would choose to satiate my weird quest.

Happily, there was a result marked, "Amazon's choice."

I wasn't prepared for this. Amazon suggested The Original Toilet Night Light Tech Gadget. Fun Bathroom Motion Sensor LED Lighting. Weird Novelty Funny Birthday Gag Stocking Stuffer Gifts Ideas for Him Her Guy Men Boy Toddler Mom Papa Brother.

A toilet with a light inside it

Why on earth would I need this? And, may I ask, how on earth is this weird?

Amazon -- or, rather, the makers of this illuminating product -- declare it'll improve your sleep. "ToiLight is a cool led motion activated night light which activates automatically when you approach the toilet bowl, illuminating it in a pleasant way that soothes you."

Do I need a soothing night light in the toilet? I do not. Is this weird? It is not.

And would you believe that, if you buy one of these things, you get a free ebook? "'365 Secrets of Tidying Up Your Home' is the perfect supplement to your ToiLight because it will help your house look always at its best," says the listing.

I worried that Amazon was looking its worst. I was beginning to lose hope in the very existence of true weirdness.

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Weird love

Next in Amazon's recommendations came the Cryptex Da Vinci Code Mini Cryptex Lock Puzzle Boxes with Hidden Compartments Anniversary Valentine's Day Romantic Birthday Gifts for Her Gifts for Girlfriend Box for Me.


Who writes these product descriptions? Why is this good for an anniversary or Valentine's gift? Why does Amazon not understand the concept of weird?

Once I read a little more about this lock puzzle box, I was prepared to concede it contained some oddness: "The Da Vinci Codec is copied from the Da Vinci manuscript in 'The Da Vinci Code'. According to the plot of the story, there is a scroll about the greatest secret of the Priory of Sion and even the whole [sic] Christianity hidden in the cryptex. To open the cryptex, you must unlock a five-digit code. There are 5 turntables on the cipher cylinder, and each turntable has 26 letters, which may be as many as 11,881,376 permutations and combinations of cryptex."

My consciousness began to waft away. What fresh hellfire was this?

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Then the makers of this thing solved the Valentine's riddle. You may not believe this.

Are you ready?

Are you sure?

Here goes: "If you plan to propose or give a Valentine's Day gift, anniversary, anniversary gift, etc., then the cryptex is a great choice for you. Its unique password setting will add romance, fun and mystery to you. We will give you a pair The [sic] rings is to help you realize your wish."

You get a free pair of rings? Now that's weird.

I accept that one person's weird is another person's ideal congressperson. I worry, though, that those searching for something different in their lives shouldn't choose Amazon as their first idea source.

Things may turn out a completely different sort of weird than they thought.

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