HotAIR - drain-brain


Technology Update: THE DRAIN BRAIN

An inside glimpse at what's new in emerging technologies

by Stephen Drew

The world has been waiting for an intelligent garbage disposal unit. The promised wasteland may now be within sight.

Winchester Digital Systems has demonstrated a prototype unit that it calls the "drain brain." The drain brain detects the presence of indigestible items such as pots, spoons, rutabagas and eyeglasses. It identifies and rejects items based on their acoustical signatures, rather than on chemical composition, electromagnetic properties, or tactile or visual analysis. Wags have dubbed the technology "garbage wars."

The unit itself is small, but includes a surprising amount of miniaturized acoustical and electrical equipment. "We supply everything but the kitchen sink," joked Michael Sussman, the firm's founder and principal scientist. Sussman says the drain brain technology is more reliable and far less expensive than competing approaches that use "Strategic Missile Defense Initiative" technology to identify and destroy incoming objects.

The drain brain does not attempt to destroy indigestible objects. Instead, it ejects them. Sussman points out that "this can be a substantial advantage if you've accidentally dropped valuable jewelery, coins, or plutonium into the sink."

The technology is not quite ready for market, however. Sussman says that "one problem is it doesn't work well for fingers. An early test showed that by the time you detect the acoustic signature of the finger, it's too late."

Winchester Digital's new quality control engineer, Adam Baum, is confident that the problem can be solved. "It's only fingers that seem to cause trouble," he said. "so if we have to, we'll just switch to analog technology."

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