Monday, January 14, 2008

self mating socks

Okay, maybe not the best product name in the world, but what does an engineer know about naming products. We just call them like we see them.

It all started one morning when my wife was complaining yet again about not being able to find an actual pair of socks. Naturally I offered to help, but the question "aren't these a pair?" was met with a snort and the look, clearly indicating that I couldn't tell that those two socks were not really identical.

This ritual had been performed almost daily since we were married, but for some reason this morning it struck a nerve and I was determined to use technology to solve the problem once and for all. Socks that would find each other. Self mating socks.

For several days I thought about socks and socks and socks. The first problem is that you buy more socks that just a single pair. So how would each pair know that they were not the same as the other two pairs from that bag. That and how to make what ever solution worked keep working about laundry day.

Well, the first trial run was not really the success I was hoping for. My wife comes in to the work room and looks over my shoulder, "So, you wanted a large ball of socks?" she asks.
"No, I was trying to get the individual pairs to mate." I reply tartly.

So obviously just messing with giving the socks some sort of charge was out. You ended up with a large ball of clean socks sitting in the middle of the dryer. Fortunately after the kitchen incident I thought things out more, and had purchased these socks at the local thrift outlet instead of using socks from around the house.

Experiments with magnets showed about the same result. One large ball of socks, sort of Koosh (tm) looking, but not really the desired result.

Working on a different project that involved muscle-wire (tm) as well as RFID and some really strange ideas on micro-robotics, I had a breakthrough on the sock issue.

So now the socks are really well behaved. Each pair has a pair identity that they know and share. So when they come out of the dryer and start cooling, each one seeks out it's mate.

So what should they be called, that won't devolve into mirth at the mere mention of the name?

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