Clever “Gadgets”

In the past few months, as I walked around the neighborhoods near mine, I have seen some amazingly clever “gadgets.” Before I describe those inventions, I decided to research the word, “gadget.”

I thought it was just a word for things that are hard to describe.

But there’s more to this word. says a gadget is “a mechanical contrivance or device; any ingenious article.”

Here are the gadgets I saw.

A “Nifty Lift” – a very cool piece of equipment used by a tree trimming company I hired. The updated version of a truck with a crane + bucket that allows the workers to cut limbs, etc., that are too high or less practical for a step ladder. Super cool. Looked like a sci-fi version of a beetle with the body and legs that expand. Very handy for trimming trees where the Nifty Lift can be placed on a hard surface (mine was on my driveway). Check it out at:

A “Podzilla” – used by the company that uses the “Pods” name. It was amazing to watch! I spent several minutes watching this “gadget” work – it’s magic. Apparently, if you hire the Pods company to deliver a storage unit to your driveway, a Podzilla may also be used to remove that unit. The flat-bed truck lowered this gadget to the street level, then the operator (it looked as if the gadget had its own power) maneuvered the gadget to place arms around the storage unit to lift it. In the meantime, though, there were straps underneath the storage unit that had to be manipulated, so a human was required. But that human was also the driver, so only one person was needed to transport a large storage unit. He used electronic communications to make the gadget (a) lift the storage unit, (b) move it to the flat-bed truck, (c) lift it to the level of the truck. Pretty darn amazing. And a super cute (and memorable) name. You have to see it in action:

The next gadget I saw was this super amazing thing, although I have not been able to discover its name. It was some sort of measuring device for amps (thank you, Adam, for telling me that it was probably some sort of inductive ammeter). I haven’t been able to find a picture of it, but it was a 3-sided squared-off “U”-shaped gadget attached to an extension rod that a 4-person utility crew was using.

Okay, there were 4 people on the crew, but only one was using the gadget. . . 😉

The amazing part was that this gadget measured the current through one of the wires the crew had just installed. The funny part was that 3 people were watching the 4th guy manipulate this gadget while he acted like a circus performer, balancing plates on a long pole. He had to extend the pole up to the newly installed wire. Then, carefully, move it around until the bottom of the U touched the wire. Then, hold it there long enough for the gadget to measure the current.

Did the 3 watchers cheer when he finally succeeded? NO. Instead, they provided ‘helpful’ suggestions like “higher” and “to the left” – nothing that he couldn’t figure out on his own. I commented that they weren’t really helping, and they chuckled. Yeah. They knew. Giving him grief, apparently, was part of the fun. 😄

Last, check out this “gadget” I saw in an airport lounge last fall! Customers would put their dishes in the tray on the top of the robot, then one of the staff would touch the screen, telling it where to take the dishes. Today’s version of Rosie, on the Jetsons!

What gadgets have you seen or used?

8 thoughts on “Clever “Gadgets””

  1. Somewhat related: I learned recently that in the mines in Western Australia, the massive trucks/tractors that haul the raw material to the processing sites do not have drivers. They are operated by one guy that can “drive” up to four of these trucks at a time using an iPad-like device. Everything is guided by GPS and the trucks are moving 24 hrs a day. Pretty amazing, but kinda spooky in a way…

    • Eric, that is so cool and yes, spooky, too. I can see how using ‘robotics’ is helpful in many ways, especially in the manufacturing industry. I see many pictures of warehouses where robots are moving things around.
      Taking people’s jobs from carrying items to figuring out how to fix the robots when they stop working!

  2. The post reminded me of a “gadget” I saw at a local bowling alley recently. I call it a robot, but it was still pretty cool and reminded me of the party scene on Jabba the Hutt’s floating vessel in Return of the Jedi. If you wanted food or drinks brought to the table near your alley while you were bowling, you keyed your order in at a kiosk and paid there with a credit card. Then, instead of walking over to the snack bar to pick up your order (we had a big crowd so we had ordered six pizzas and a couple of pitchers of soda), you could opt to have your order delivered by machine. A robot with a smiley face of lights and a polite voice delivered our food and drinks about 20 minutes later right to the table. I think there were two of these machines going back and forth between the snack bar and various tables. It could sense where there were people in front of it and went slowly enough that the danger of all that food and drink spilling was slim to zero. That also reminded me of Rosie on the Jetsons!

    • Laura, that is a great example! I love your description of the “smiley face of lights.”
      It’s also an amazing example of how people can program robots to do things, including the “visual” sensory aspect.

  3. I’m still in awe of Roombas. They can be unnerving, but they’re a fun labor saving device, especially if you have pets!

    • You’re absolutely right, Adam! A Roomba is a perfect example of a useful gadget!
      Which reminds me, maybe I should get one, considering the amount of cat hair left on my floors every minute…

      • The cats will hate hate it, but it’s one of the better investments we made, especially after a golden retriever! And I recommend spending a little more for the nicer models, the cheap ones just kinda bump around blindly.


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