While most geeks love Google with an unhealthy passion, even the most ardent “Don’t be evil” fanboy still harbors a tiny bit of resentment that the so-awesome-we-wish-it-was-so promise of working for Google on the moon was a total April Fool’s fake out. Don’t be so hard on our benevolent search engine overlords, as they were just continuing a long tradition of promoting fake products and events on April 1st. Products that we all wish were real, like the 10 listed below.
10. Smell-O-Vision – In 1965, the BBC aired an April 1 news story about a man who had found a way to broadcast smells over TV airwaves, a technology that was “demonstrated” by brewing coffee and chopping onions on camera. The joke was plausible because real Smell-O-Vision was tested in movie theaters in 1960 — but only once, and to such meager reaction the whole effort was abandoned immediately. Trust me, the Food Network would only be improved by this tech becoming real, though certain episodes of Dirty Jobs, CSI, and MythBusters might need a whole new kind of viewer discretion advisory, to say nothing of Star Trek reruns (mmmm…fresh roasted redshirt).
9. BMW Instant Messaging – In 2007, BMW advertised a new options package that combined voice-recognition software and adapted Heads-Up Display tech to create the ultimate instigator of road rage. With BMW-IM, your Beemer recognized any choice words you had for the driver in front of you, and then autogenerated a reverse-text display of your statement on your windshield, so the driver could read it in the rearview mirror. Personally, I think the obvious safety concerns are outweighed by the comedic possibilities of BMW-IM. And once it gets a Twitter tie-in, we’re talking Web 2.0 gold.
8. Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect – In 1976, British celebrity astronomer Dr. Patrick Moore told his BBC radio audience that a rare alignment of Pluto and Jupiter with Earth would result in gravitational cascade effect, allowing people to jump higher than normal. Hundreds of listeners called in confirming the “floating sensation” Moore facetiously predicted, proving exactly how badly we all want to fly. Or lose weight without dieting.
7. Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol (HTCPCP) – Every year, the Internet Engineering Task Force publishes a fake Request for Comments on April 1, but none is so gallingly unfulfilled as 1998’s RFC 2324, which laid out a specification for extending the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol to control Internet-connected coffee pots (it also had error codes for handling teapots). Since no one took the RFC seriously, all we are left with are Web-connected coffee pots with gaping security holes — the kind that decent standards compliance could have prevented.
6. The Google Copernicus Center – It’s Google. On the moon. It’s a half-step removed from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. What more do you need to know?
Check out the top five April Fool’s pranks we wish were real.
4. Cell phone implants – Thanks to modern technology, we all now get to play the wonderfully awkward game of “raging schizophrenic, or dude on a hands-free cell phone?” Unfortunately, Bluetooth headsets have become such a jerkwad status symbol that you can pick out the phone-talkers from the nutjobs from half an airport concourse away. But if the bionic cell phone implants that HowStuffWorks faked out in 2007 were real, the spot-the-mentally-ill game sudden gets challenging again. Plus, imagine the revenge you could get on a hated rival or ex-girlfriend by signing up their surgically implanted cell number for every telemarketer list you can find. It’s a technology whose time (for abuse) has come.
3. Legend of Zelda movie – This was almost cruel, but you have to give it to IGN who, in 2008, went to the trouble of producing a Sci-Fi Channel-quality trailer for a live-action Legend of Zelda movie adaptation — that didn’t exist. While we can all agree that the fandom probably dodged a bullet on the production values shown in the trailer, we’re all the lesser for not having a big-screen version of Link, Hyrule, and the Tri-Force.
2. Motoshi Sakriboto – Square and Enix took some heat for announcing their merger on an April 1st; so in 2007, they had fun with controversy and announced the creation of Motoshi Sakriboto, an amalgamation of game composers Hitoshi Sakimoto and Motoi Sakuraba, who would provide exponenially inspired music for the merged company’s games. While the existence of a hybrid game composer presents a certain novelty appeal, the ability to fuse two geniuses into one hyper-genius is awesome. Imagine combining Apple design chief Jonathan Ive with Steve Ballmer to produce Jeeves Ivemer, creator of sleek, ubiquitous, user-friendly business PCs. Or mashing up Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams to create JoJo Whebrams, a sci-fi TV/movie producer known for witty dialogue, feminist overtones, the ability to not get canceled, and who is hired to successfully reboot Star Wars. The possibilities are endless.
1. Virgle – Virgin Galactic, meet Google Copernicus. A year ago, Google snuck out some subtle references of a faux-alliance between the search giant and Richard Branson’s space tourism company, called Virgle. The partnership’s mission? Colonize Mars, in what the company referred to as a “startup civilization.” The colonist application is still available in the event Larry, Sergei and Branson ever decide that they’ve got the money, tech, and chutzpah to actually tame the Red Planet. The fact that said application blatantly references several famous sci-fi tales of Martian colonization shows exactly how awesome this would be. Unfortunately, they said I was too normal to be considered. Stupid lack of glaring personality disorders; it’s the same thing that keeps me from qualifying for reality television.