Sometimes the road to instant poverty is not in inventing a new device but in recognizing a new market for an existing one. (Actually, since you eliminate much of the research and development costs, the chances of striking it poor are somewhat diminished, but let’s not think about that.
One bit of modern gee-whizzery of which I am fond are noise-canceling headphones. These babies actually pick up the ambient noise around you and generate their own sound waves that cancel the noise out in the location of your ear canal. Pretty dang slick. The most popular place for the technology is on airplanes; it’s amazing how much of the engine drone is cut out by a good pair of noise cancelers. With the background reduced, it’s also easier to hear the people around you.
Pilots use noise cancellers all the time these days, but if I owned an airline I’d outfit all the flight personnel with inside-the-ear noise cancellers. Not only would they be able to hear what is being said to them better, but their ears wold be protected. That constant assault on their ears can’t be good for them in the long term.
So, the technology is without a doubt useful. Yesterday it occurred to me that if you wired up the headphones with a specific signal to cancel, that you could have headphones that virtually eliminated a very specific sound while allowing others to pass. There is one industry in particular that would benefit from such a boon, a group of men and women subjected to the same sound over and over, day in and day out, until it must haunt their dreams. I expect insanity is common among these people.
You know who I’m talking about already, don’t you? That right, ice cream truck drivers. I bet they’d pay a bundle to MAKE THAT SONG STOP! As a bonus, they’d be able to hear traffic and the calls of little children more clearly.