Vantage point

Monday, October 17, 2005

Pinnacle of Innovation

A couple of months back in Germany, I saw something which cemented my opinion that the greatest competitive advantage humankind has over other species is not the opposable thumb, but innovation. What I saw was one of the most innovative ideas I have ever come across. And guess where I saw it?

In a urinal!

Yes, "in" a urinal. That is not me making the mistake of saying "in the urinal" when I mean "in the bathroom". This pinnacle of human innovation was actually located inside the urinal. You know how the base of the urinal, on which your pee lands, there will usually be a few holes that will drain the liquid and take it on its journey to the netherworld (No, I do NOT mean that sewage from germany goes to Holland!!).

In this particular urinal in this particular bathroom in this particular restaurant in Munich, placed on top of the holes, was green gauze. On top of the green gauze, was a small plastic goal. And in front of it, was a tiny naphthalene ball which looked like a football. The whole purpose of this contraption was to let you have some fun while peeing. You could aim at the ball and direct it into the goal.

I googled around a bit and even managed to locate a picture over here.

I was amazed at the sheer ingenuity of this product. I was later told that these urinal-football-kits are very popular in football-crazy Europe. Spare a thought for the guy who "invented" them. Can you honestly deny him a place alongside Edison, Da Vinci and ben Franklin, as one of the greatest minds to grace this planet?

Oh by the way, I scored 4 goals!