April 6, 2012
People have looked at me oddly when I mentioned that people in Korea have used sausages on a stick to use their iPhones. Especially when I add that this Korean snack food had a jump in sales once the word got around that it could be used this way.
The back story is that I had gotten together with a group of gardeners to start tomato plants and generally dream of summer gardens. I hadn’t had my iPhone for very long—not only was I a relatively early adopter, but the other touch phones hadn’t come out yet. They were curious about how I liked it and wondered how the touch interface worked. I knew it had something to do with the electrical conductivity of the human body. That’s when the fun began. We tried to create a fake finger.
We started by filling a latex glove with tap water and swiping the glove’s finger across the phone. That didn’t work. We thought our tap water might be too pure and tried adding salt to the water in the glove. It still didn’t work. Someone then thought the water might not be pure enough and discussed distilling some water. After a quick run to the store, we knew that a glove filled with distilled water didn’t work either.
The geeks scratched their heads.
A gardener who’d been listening to all this while planting seeds walked up to me and said hesitantly, “would you mind… ?” She had an earthworm in her hand.
Looking at my shiny new iPhone, I smiled – it had a screen protector. I knew I could easily clean it. (And worms don’t bother me.)
So we gently swiped the worm across the phone. And it worked!
A day later, the article about sausages on a stick went out to the gardening group’s Google list. I think a sausage is much more convenient than a worm. Although I haven’t yet decided which one wins the “gross” factor!