Will Dean's Ideas Factory: The perfect cup of tea - get one while they're hot


Will Dean
Wednesday 01 August 2012 21:15 BST
The machine allows thirsty punters to compute a way to brew the perfect cup
The machine allows thirsty punters to compute a way to brew the perfect cup (Mayor of London's Office)

One of the few icons of British life that didn't make it into Danny Boyle's joyous Olympic Opening Ceremony is the cup of tea.

But that's not to say that the humble cuppa can't get involved in this summer's Games. As you may have noticed if you've popped down to Victoria Park (where Boris found himself hanging yesterday) tea is playing a big role at the big outdoor events there.

In situ is the Universal Tea Machine, a Heath Robinson-esque contraption brought to life by a combination of the Mayor of London's office and a motley crew of architectural firms. The machine combines the feel of a pinball machine with simple binary computing, and allows thirsty punters – if they're smart enough – to compute a way to brew the perfect cup. The Universal Tea Machine requires users to make five sequential additions, covering cup, tea bag, hot water, milk and sugar, in order to create a combination that gives them the perfect brew. It's easier said than done: the machine pays tribute to the computing skills of Alan Turing and if you miss out part of the calculation you could end up with a rotten mug of hot milk.

Nobody wants that.

Of course Olympic restrictions have made life difficult, too. The wonderful Edible Geography blog, which interviewed one of the UTM's creators, revealed that none of the official Olympic suppliers could offer sugar cubes to go into the contraption.

Still, if there was a gold medal for pointless ingenuity, the UTM would be well in the running.

Read more: bit.ly/utniteamach

Is this the future of office chairs? Um, perhaps...

In offices around the world, staff squirm and wriggle in poorly adjusted chairs. Or maybe that's just me sitting badly. Either way, most of us would like to be as comfortable as possible.

An answer may come in the Limbic Intelligent Chair but whether it will catch on in human resources departments around the country might depend on how much Olympic fever catches on in the next 10 days. Indeed, the picture on the website of Inno-Motion, makers of the chair, shows a man in Lycra lifting weights as he sits on it.

The Limbic has no seat per se, but two movable shells which fit around your legs, allowing you to move any which way. So – probably to the annoyance of one's colleagues, you could bounce around; dance even, while making sure your month-ending payments all line up properly. Inno-Motion claims the chair also combines neuroscience with ergonomics, suggesting that the freedom to float around boosts your mood. We'll have to take their word for it. There's another catch, too. It costs £5,500.

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