It’s rare to find an office cubicle totally devoid of desk toys. Even the neatest and tidiest workers among us feel the need to commune with their inner child during the day, and keeping a few bobbleheads and Rubik’s cubes around is easier than stuffing a full-size pony into their cube. (Also, more humane.)
Since you can never have too many cubicle toys, the editors of Desktop Engineering decided to create a contest to inspire the creation of all-new gadgets to keep us entertained. There were over 80 submissions. Here are the three finalists, and ultimately, the winner. Please note that the runners up weren’t ranked, so you can pretty much consider them both in tie for second place.
3. Ray Kelley’s Bottle Cap Blaster
Finally, something to do with all those water bottle caps that have been littering your cubicle. The Bottle Cap Blaster was designed to be cheeky, but non-lethal — something those of us who have experienced high-powered homemade slingshots around the office can appreciate.
Its creator, Ray Kelley, described his plan thusly, “I set out to create a fun, cool cross bow-type toy with enough attention to detail that it might actually be made and used without serious injury … Overall, most elements amuse and annoy, and hopefully others will inspire and maybe even amaze.”
2. Jason Cox’s Remote Control Mouse
This is legitimately one of the funniest ideas we’ve heard in a long while: the Remote Control Mouse, as you might have guessed, allows a remote user to control the primary user’s mouse clicks. The mental picture this creates is probably almost as good as the actual experience of watching someone use it.
Contest judge Josh Mings said, “I can picture team-building experiments where one team tries to protect the RC Mouse and the other team tries to kick it through the office manager’s plant … a very valuable part of building a functional company culture.”
1. Mark Norwood’s Water Spraying Tank
And the winner is Mark Norwood, with a water-spraying Sherman tank. The tank itself is a toy you can purchase at any toy store, but Norwood outfitted it with a water tube that will make tormenting coworkers easier (and damper) than ever before.
Judge Tony Lockwood said, “Each gentlemen is a winner in my book. All have proven themselves disruptive technologists, impish pranksters, and ingenious beyond compute. And, of course, all meet and exceed the Robbins Razz requirement for tormenting your cube mates [a test inspired by the way executive editor Steve Robbins makes a beloved canine companion chase a laser pointer's light].”
Lockwood and the other judges said that the detailed modeling in Norwood’s drawing helped him win the prize, a Dell Precision Workstation with professional AMD FirePro graphics (retail value estimated at more than $5,000.)
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