Technostalgia

Why Hasn’t Anyone Come Up With Something Better?

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Welcome to the first weekend of the new year! As a little something new for the new year, I am going to try to use the first weekend of the month for something just a little different than the What Ever Became of posts that you all know and love to start your Saturday–something I call Why Hasn’t Anyone Come Up With Something Better?!?

It seems like there are a fair amount of products out there that haven’t really changed much since their invention, or that hit a point in the refinement cycle and then just stagnated. We will throw some of them out there, and discuss our deep thoughts on why there isn’t something better, and maybe come up with something that will change the face of technology in our lives, but never get anything in return. To start off, let’s consider the windshield wiper!

Windshield wipers have got to be one of the simplest gadgets on an automobile, and almost every car, no matter how upscale, has essentially the same part on it, a squeegee on a stick. Rain-X works, mostly, for a little while, and then has to be re-applied, but why not something permanent? Where are the high tech hydrophobic coatings, or electrostatic fields to constantly repell water? Why hasn’t anyone come up with something better?

Image via lambocars.com.

  • Apparently, You haven't heard of the new McLaren yet
    http://www.autoblog.com/2013/12/17/mclaren-ultras

    • Martin M

      While driving home from Mizzou with my daughter last night, I thought of this post. I wondered how well such a system would work with all that global warming I was driving through.

    • Looks like I should have posted about this a month ago, and I would have looked quite the futurologist! Seriously though, that is cool that such a thing is being researched, and I had indeed not heard McLaren was working on such, so thanks!

  • cruisintime

    In the future our electronic society will backlash against the constant barrage of bullshit.

  • Usually something that hasn't changed for quite some time is just the simplest, most elegant solution to a problem, and why change it? The squeegee evidently went through some technological changes driven by particular applications like printmaking, floor and deck washing and window cleaning. The windshield wiper is just a squeegee adapted to an automotive application. Like the bristle broom on a street sweeper is just an application of the ancient straw broom.

    I'm hoping this series tackles things that haven't changed much but really ought to have, so called entrenched technologies.

  • BlackIce_GTS

    Rain-X wiper fluid. It's cheap, and it works pretty well. I only need to use my wipers at low speeds or in light rain.
    Also beneficial, my car's wiper fluid reservoir holds almost exactly 6 months worth, allowing me to switch back and forth between de-icer (sort of works?) and bug and tar remover (I attribute it's function to the relative dearth of bugs and tar I typically encounter).
    On the other hand, this amount is 96% of a full jug of wiper fluid. I can keep the almost-empty jug for a year, or have it rattle around my backseat for a month or two until I can cram the rest in. I did that this summer, and now my winter changeover is out of step.
    This does not matter, because I live somewhere where summer is rain and winter is more rain.

  • OA5599

    [youtube CSd1BS8E3RE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSd1BS8E3RE youtube]

  • Number_Six

    Dearthair and me live in the same span of frozen wasteland where rain is less of a concern than ice. In late November it was -31C in that horrorshow we call Alberta. One morning in the cold my ice scraper shattered into useless shards and I ended up running the car for ages until the heater started working enough to clear the glass. We can put a man into a telephone but we can't make ice-proof glass?

  • Slow_Joe_Crow

    My first two thoughts were solutions that moved the glass. The grand-daddy of moving glass is the clear view screen still used on ships and locomotives.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/91/JNR_DD51_111.JPG/320px-JNR_DD51_111.JPG"&gt;
    This was probably the inspiration for the setup on the crazy Sir-Vival "safety car" from the 50s that had a cylindrical windshield that rotated to clear crud.
    <img src=http://www.retronaut.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Sir-Vival-1.jpg"

    Getting more high tech, I think some aircraft now use a system that blows heated air over the windshield, but that requires jet or turboprop bleed air.

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