Monday, August 26, 2013

Put a ring on it…

Before I leave to take a ride on the T – Boston’s public transpo system – I take my Charlie Card (smart card that contains the electronic version of the subway tokens that used to clang around in change purses for us women and pockets for you men*) out of my wallet and place it in my hand.

That way, when I get to the T station, I don’t have to fumble around in my pocketbook to find my wallet it, and can quickly glide through the turnstile and head on up or down to catch my train.

The Charlie Card fumble is but a minor annoyance, one of many on the long list of minor life annoyances (which will be a full topic for another day). Personally, I find it more annoying that, whencharlie card I approach the T station I am most likely to use, I have to decide whether it’s worth jay-running to catch the train I can hear chugging out of the tunnel, or prudently wait for the light to change and catch the next train. This is less of a problem than it used to be, now that there are heat lamps that makes dead-of-winter waiting less onerous at the Charles-MGH station,  which has an outdoor platform.

For those not familiar with this T station – and why should you be? – this is a partial of what the approach is like. There are actually two of these stretches, and a) they’re not that wide; b) they have Walk-Don’t Walk (which in Boston is pedestrian-optional) signs; and c) they generally have cars in them. This street-level approach replaced a couple of rickety metal bridges. The risk on those was that you’d slip on the steps and break your leg running for a train, as opposed to the far worse risk of getting hit by a car hurtling off the Salt-and-Pepper bridge and running a red light (or failing to stop for jay-runners). So, we now have a more handicapped accessible way of getting to the station than we had in the past, but it’s a way that may well produce more people requiring at least temporary handicapped accessibility precisely because they were run down by a delivery van, cab, or commuter. Hmmmm.

But I digress, when the real point of this post is to address – not digress – the minor annoyance that is making sure that you have your Charlie Card in hand when you’re hurrying to catch a train.

For every minor annoyance (turn, turn, turn), there is a minor solution (turn, turn, turn), and a time for every purpose under heaven.

And for the minor annoyance that is making sure that you have your Charlie Card at the ready, the minor solution is the Sesame Ring, the brainchild of some MIT and Singapore University of Technology and Design undergrads:

“Having missed the train many times while fishing for our Charlie Cards (smart cards used for public transportation in Massachusetts), we looked for a solution in wearable technology. After months of hard work, we created the 3D-printed Sesame Ring, supported by the MBTA,” the project page states. “Now, you can walk right up to the gantry, use scientifically approved magic, and scoot on through!”

The project has more than exceeded that $5K Kickstart it’s looking for, thanks to the publicity it received on, which, in turn, inspired those who want to join the ranks of “wearable technologists” (their words), without going cross-eyed and insane with Google Glass, to commit $27 to replace or augment their so-yesterday Charlie Cards with a hip and happenin’ piece of bling.

Michael Morisy, the Innovation blogger, has characterized the rings as “stylish.”

Well, I don’t know about that.

I looks more like something you’d be able to trade the 50 tickets you won playing skee-ball at the arcade for, but I will reserve full judgment until mine – I ordered the tangerine – is delivered in a couple of months.

sesame ring

Ah, the minor annoyance can be such a slippery slope.

Here  I was getting all sorts of ready to make fun of finding a minor solution to a minor problem, and the next thing you know, I’m in for $27 worth a wearable technology.

It was the 3D printing that made me do it…


*I actually wanted to use parentheses with the letters F and M in them here, but attempts to do so resulted in these unwanted and pesky little icons: Red rose and Messenger.  I get the “F is for flower” but what up with those two little guys? Is that supposed to be “M is for marriage” or “M is for men”?

Icons off!

No comments: