Think you've seen it all? Think again. We'd bet the farm you've never witnessed a popcorn machine that shoots those delicious popped kernels into your mouth on command. The Popinator Project, conceived by Popcorn Indiana, is a wonderfully geeky device touted as the "world's first automated voice activated popcorn shooter." Just say the word 'pop' and it will fire a snack towards your mouth.
As silly (and ridiculously fun) as a popcorn launching machine sounds, there's actually some impressive electrical engineering at work. Voice activation is just one component. The Popinator uses a fancy binaural microphone system that analyzes sound waves to figure out where the word 'pop' originated from. It uses that information to turn and aim its launcher at the person requesting a snack.
"Every piece of popcorn is different -- different shapes and sizes, different aerodynamic properties, basically," explains Ted (last name unknown), an electrical engineer at Popcorn Indiana. "When you're shooting a piece of popcorn, there's only so accurate you can get it, You might have to maneuver a little bit to catch it, but that's really just part of the fun."
And "fun" is the whole idea. Sure, there are gimmicky benefits; as one person in the promotional video above explains, the Popinator could come when handy when your hands are tied up playing videogames. But the Popinator is really just an awesome novelty, one that we hope moves from an in-house project into a shipping product.
"We certainly hope that one day it will become a commercial project, but as of now there is no shipping date and no price tag," Popcorn Indiana says.