The talking tea timer
I bought this talking kitchen timer a few weeks back, much to the embarrassment of my wife. And myself, for that matter. We had friends over that same day, and I tried to hide it.
Alas, hiding it is pretty challenging, because, well, it talks. It says “20 minutes left”, then “10 minutes left”, then “9 minutes left”, then … And not in a very soft voice, either.
It’s a little comical at first, but it quickly turns out to be quite handy. You get a rough idea of how much time is left without having to take you eyes off the pot you’re stirring. And where a normal timer will be silent, silent, silent, and THEN start BEEPING LIKE MAD, this one is more polite. It reminds you periodically of its existence, and it actually lets you turn it off before it gets to the beeping.
The trick is that it uses a sense that is not as occupied, but more importantly, a sense that’s not exclusive and directional: You can easily hear many things at once, but you can only really look at one thing at a time.
It’s pretty clever. And if you still find it a bit too embarrassing, you can always set it to Finnish and claim that it’s a fancy automated language course.