Calling All Engineers

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, but what about spite? Does it fit into the invention family somewhere?

I have this great idea for a new invention. It’s this box that attaches to the wall or ceiling of one’s apartment. The box emits sound exclusively in the direction of the surface to which it is attached, which is then amplified by conduction. Sound selections might include “Deafening Pounding,” “Metal Scraping Broken Glass,” and
“Jungle Beast Armageddon.” It would come with a remote control for ease of use, which would also feature volume control and a timer function, so that the sounds could be programmed to play at any time of the day or night. The sounds could be played when the owner is not even home (but his neighbor is).

I can see the conversation now… “Oh, is my noise bothering you? Sorry about that, I’ve been doing some remodeling lately. It should only last a few more weeks. You were remodeling too, recently, weren’t you? I think I remember hearing it every single day, really early in the morning. Anyway, gotta get back to remodeling. Nice talking to you, bye!”


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Being in China and all, labor is cheap — as every jobless American knows. I suggest hiring one of Shanghai’s numerous migrant workers; possibly equipping him/her with a mobile; giving him/her an official-sounding title (Pseudo-Renovation’s Specialist); giving very detailed instructions; then watch the pseudo nuts and bolts fly.

    With the going rate of labor in Eastern China at around 3-4yuan/hr, this design could cost far less than any Walmart/Carrefour bought gizmo!

    My next project will concern how to keep the 7am bicycle-riding recycling people from yelling right outside my window. Argh!

    Happy remodeling!

  2. You can use my apartment as a showroom if you like. I can even provide authentic sounds of two apartments (one above, one below) undergoing extensive refurbishment from 7am to sometimes after midnight. Oi! Actually that’s unfair, sometimes they only hammer and drill for a couple of hours (such as 7-9 on a Sunday morning) before taking their very long naps.

  3. I’ve got an idea for another item in this product line: a portable car horn. This would allow one to honk like an idiot at drivers who insist on using the sidewalk as their personal passing lane.

  4. While I’m pretty sure you’re joking, such devices do exist. See for a small consumer-level model.

    Re: portable car horn. When I first came to Shanghai, I looked everywhere for one of those canned air horns — toss it in my bag, and honk back on the street/sidewalk. Never followed through, though.

  5. Brad,

    Thanks, but Soundbug is useless to me. I want it to go through the wall, not back at me. I have no desire to listen to “Jungle Beast Armageddon” at any volume.

  6. As soon as the product is ready for testing, I’m ready!

  7. Mr. Pasden, Let’s do act like a grown up shall we? You know that you’re leaving yourself open to all kinds of shit should your righteousness ever choose to, or be forced to, remodel. Anyhow see you in a few weeks eh? For yet another night of drunken revelry? Eh?

  8. Da Xiangchang Says: February 24, 2004 at 8:21 am

    Uhhh, just get some earplugs, dude. If you can’t find any in China, let me know your new address, and I shall send you some from California. Later.

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