Unleashing fists of fury upon a laptop or flinging a smartphone across the room can prove a costly way to vent any gadget-related anger, but now a customizable smash pad called the RageGage can both take the punishment and defuse some anger with humor.
The idea came from inventor Ian Campbell's road rage experience as a Georgia Tech student trapped in Atlanta traffic. Based on his wife's suggestion, Campbell created a smash pad that can both measure the force of its physical abuse and talk back with lines such as "You wuss" or "You're losing it, dude."
After all, better to hit the cheeky RageGage rather than expensive gadgets, co-workers or office walls.
"I've been known to break things in fits of rage," Campbell said. "My wife has been helping me out."
Such vocal feedback aims to goad timid users into releasing bottled-up anger, but also tries to manage the anger. If a user begins smashing the RageGage with extreme prejudice, the device can switch to a more placating mode with words such as "Why are you hurting me?"
The pressure sensor embedded in silicon gel has proven capable of withstanding high levels of punishment. Campbell recalled one person at the CES technology tradeshow stomping on a RageGage and leaving his shoe imprint in the gel.
"Typically electronics designers say it's a no-no to drop something or smash it, but we were able to make it practically bulletproof," Campbell told InnovationNewsDaily.
People can even customize their RageGage with the fake voices of POTUS (President Barack Obama), "Lush Rimbaugh" (based on the right-wing shock jock Rush Limbaugh), and a stereotypical Valley Girl. Campbell has also invited users to record and upload their own voice imitations.
Similarly, game developers can create Flash or Facebook games that take advantage of the RageGage as a video game controller. The "RageGage Connect" software can already update Facebook profiles to tell friends or co-workers about a user's current rage level, based on how hard he or she has been hitting the smash pad.
The AAA battery-powered RageGage can run on USB power when connected with computers. But Campbell envisions stripped-down spinoffs without the computer interface that would allow people to simply smack around their most hated presidential candidates in 2012.
Campbell also hopes to create a more sophisticated game controller version of RageGage that not only detects how hard someone presses down the gel pad, but also where someone is touching the pad.
"Slap it, punch it, poke it, tickle it; it can interpret all those signals," Campbell said.
The RageGage currently costs $19.99. See the RageGage website for more details.