Monday, March 16, 2015

Microbreak anyone?

Recently I remembered a little bank I had as a child: A black shiny box with a slot for your coin. When you put a coin in the groove, the bank would rock back and forth a little, and then a hand came out and snatched away the coin, banking it for safe keeping. I loved the little device and fed it as many coins as I could get. What a delight it was weeks later to open it up and find as much as a whole dollar inside. Found a video of one "at work" on youtube.  

Flooded as we are now with amazing technology, the automata people found wondrous and dazzling in days of yore are often forgotten, but they've found a new niche in Britain, somewhere between circus oddity and tourist attraction. Tim Hunkin's machines can be found at his website Hunkin's Machines

I love this machine called the "Microbreak", for those who hate vacations. Says Hunkins about holidays:

"I like travelling for work, to have a reason to go somewhere, but find holidays more stressful than work and often thoroughly depressing. I find them stressful because I'm not a good traveller and I'm always worried by missing flights, losing my passport etc. Depressing because they involve a lot of aimlessly wandering around, often surrounded by lots of other people doing the same. This makes me feel old and reminds me of death. I'm surrounded by friends who enjoy their holidays and think I'm uptight for not being able to relax. I used to be worried by this but making Microbreak somehow allowed me to just accepted it. "    

The "Microbreak" is a chintzy armchair set in front of a 1950s-style portable TV that sets out to take the "busy executive" on a holiday that lasts "no more than 3 minutes". As an added incentive, there's "No risk of deep vein thrombosis". It's built on the chassis of a 1985 Sega Space Harrier arcade game, and once you've put your money in the slot, you are whisked away as the armchair tips and rocks and an animated film of your holiday appears in front of you. 

Astounding Value. Only 1 pound. 

John Travolta enjoying a microbreak

Hunkin's - on the Chiropodist: "I became hooked on making arcade machines in the 1980s, for Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in Covent Garden. The first one was the Chiropodist, which has a hole at the bottom to insert your foot for treatment. At the time, I was really unsure if anyone would even take their shoe off, let alone put their foot in a dark unknown space - but they did. In fact, 20,000 people did every year. I was excited by the money it made, but even more excited that people were enticed to follow weird instructions to get their money’s worth."

And here's one of my favorites of the many I viewed....only the one talking has the brain. What a concept! The other has to wait, to have a brain, before speaking.  "The Science of Conversation" was designed and built by Paul Spooner. 

Blueprint for brain transfer.
Here's a great link to many more entertaining Automata 
which can be found all over the world. 

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