Recent lists... view all »
oobject: 'daily user-ranked gadget lists'
A bus stop is perhaps the simplest form of shelter and therefore the simplest form of architecture. As such it is a surprisingly rich area for design innovation, from complex organic concrete shell structures to minimalist glass and steel modernism.

bus stops as architecture

For sheer baroque complexity of appearance, planetarium projectors are among the most amazing gizmos ever built. They range from enormous machines more than 20 ft. high to a soccer ball sized $300 home version.Their purpose is a bizarre reversal of a large optical telescope, taking an internal view of the the universe and projecting it on a dome, rather than creating a view from peering outside of one, but the aesthetic is somewhat similar. Another curious similarity is how much they look like some early satellites.Our personal favorites are the original Zeiss, Mark I and the truly amazing machine built by the Korkosz brothers for the, appropriately named, Seymour Planetarium.

16 incredible planetarium projectors

The earliest remotes were neither wireless or used to control TVs. Since the 30s devices were available to control radios, Philcos 1939 wood and Bakelite model was actually wireless and predates any TV remote. TV remotes started with gadgets such as the Zenith Lazy Bones and it was Zenith who introduced the first cable free TV remote, with the Flash-matic.

9 early remote controls

The Zapruder film of the JFK assassination was shot on a Bell and Howell double 8 camera, at about the time of the introduction of Super 8, which created a ubiquitous format for affordable home movies. The difference in design between the Super 8 cameras and other 8mm cameras from as early as the 30s is clearly visible in this collection. The look changed from rounded shapes dictated by the film canister on early news reel devices, to a counter fashion for extremely orthogonal forms as exemplified here by the Star Trek like designs of the superb Bolex 150 from 1967.

20 classic 8mm movie cameras

Thrones provide a history of self importance through design, from Ivan the Terrible’s ivory throne to some of the more absurd set pieces, complete with enormous backdrops.The throne and sculptural setting for Papal audiences is a fitting example of something that would have Jesus rolling in his proverbial grave, quite missing the entire message of the scriptures. Other favorites include the coronation throne in Britain which is covered in antique graffiti, as if it were a unimportant school chair, or Saddam Hussein’s scud missile set piece. My personal favorite is the throne which the lunatic singer, Michael Jackson had made for himself, which actually looks ordinary here.


Robots often look insect like, largely because of their jerky movements and exo-skeletal look, both of which are a result of them often being works in progress at the individual and overall state of the art. Making them climb walls and hang effortlessly off a ceiling just adds them looking particularly bug like.There are a variety of movements and gripping mechanisms, from electromagnetic to air suction, however our favorite is the friction based tree climber.

15 wall climbing robots

oobject header image

wtf is that? #16

October 22nd, 2009 #link


There is a whole history behind these things – what’s it all about?

16 Responses to “wtf is that? #16”

  1. admin Says:

    BTW, this is difficult. If nobody gets close, I’ll post a clue later.

  2. Bradley Says:

    I’m going to guess it’s some kind of signal generator like a Wein Bridge Oscillator. I’d have a better guess if I could read the dials, but then that would be too easy.

  3. thomas Says:

    it’s some kind of radiation detector. Or maybe it measures it?

  4. Todd Says:

    It’s a Dr. Pepper can. Geez, that one was easy.

  5. admin Says:

    OK, the clue is that this machine could in theory work as well if it were made of paper.

  6. olaf Says:

    Ok, I think this device is some kind of medical-placebo. Connected to the machine it is easy for me to imagine a “energy” floating through my body if the doctor plays very serious with the buttons.

  7. tony d Says:

    Is this an early Scientology E-meter?

  8. admin Says:

    @tonyd – that’s getting warm, although these devices could look be anything, not just an E-meter. This is just one example.

  9. supermarketsong Says:

    A vintage fake ikea decoration item? :p

  10. supermarketsong Says:

    A vintage ikea fake decoration item? :p

  11. ยต_d Says:

    looks like a real life reproduction of an item from the game bioshock…

  12. Albedo Says:

    Quack medicine… A violet ray machine minus its wands?

  13. Albedo Says:

    OK, maybe not a violet ray machine.. An ECT machine? A control panel from a Ring-King Junior?

  14. biziclop Says:

    Is it a movie prop?

  15. xoxoxoBruce Says:

    That’s the meter L Ron Hubbard used to prove plants feel pain.

  16. admin Says:

    OK – like I say this one is extremely tricky.

    Its one of the few images around of a Hieronymous machine, a hypothetical device which works by ‘analogy’. In other words, the idea is that you build something that looks like a working machine and it can behave like the real thing through the power of the mind. It s a sort of sci-fi equivalent of cargo cult objects.

    The reason this WTF is so tricky is that because this is insane and because the devices don’t have to work in the conventional sense, they can look like anything. A Hieronymous machine could look like the device above, which is a genuine attempt, or a paper cutout.

    Nonetheless, its a fun and weird concept.

  17. biziclop Says:

    It’s not just insane, it’s patented!