1. Is E-mail Making You Dumber?
A nonstop barrage of e-mail can cause a greater loss of IQ than smoking a small amount of marijuana, at least in the short term, a British study shows.
SPAM-weary workers suffered as much as a 10-point loss to their IQ -- the equivalent of missing a whole night's sleep and more than double the four-point fall from marijuana -- according to a study of 1,100 Britons, carried out by TNS Research and commissioned by Hewlett-Packard.
In 80 clinical trials, Dr. Glenn Wilson, a psychiatrist at the University of London, monitored the IQ of workers throughout the day. "This is a very real and widespread phenomenon," Wilson says.
The trend of constantly responding to messages is called "Infomania," and Wilson says that it affects men more than women. The good news is that your brain returns to normal when the technology is removed.
Persistent Infomania could cause permanent impairment. So, if you want to warn your friends and colleagues, it might pay to do it face to face, if you can pry them away from their computers.
2. Is It Time for Hide-and-Seek Alarm Clock?
Tired of complaining about work? Maybe you're just not getting enough sleep, and you're not alone.
The typical American adult sleeps 6.8 hours per night during the week and 7.4 hours per night on weekends, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The downward trend of people getting a recommended eight hours of sleep has slipped from 38 percent in 2001, to 30 percent in 2002, to 26 percent in 2005.
Need a solution to get out of bed, even when your body is screaming for more ZZZs? Meet Clocky -- the first alarm clock that will challenge even the doziest sleepers not to hit the snooze button more than once.
Clocky is equipped with a set of wheels, and once you hit the snooze button, this softly padded clock rolls off your night table, bounces onto the floor, and hides in your bedroom, forcing you to get out of bed to find the damn thing.
"Having an alarm clock run away from you was an obvious solution for chronic oversleepers," says Gauri Nanda, a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where the clock was developed. "This ensures that the person is fully awake before turning it off."
Those who are eager for early morning games of hide-and-seek with their appliances will have to wait at least a year before Clocky hits stores, but the new gizmo should cost about $30. And, no, you're not dreaming.
3. Electric Babble for Worker's Playtime
How do you call your lover at work? If Big Brother isn't listening, the guy on the other side of your cubicle probably is. You can either buy him an iPod or get yourself a Babble -- a device that sits on your desk, duplicates your voice and makes it indecipherable to passers-by.
The Babble removes that need to conspicuously turn up the office radio when you need privacy. This $400 device records your voice, and spits out bits and pieces of conversation, so that the folks around you will be utterly confused.
"It essentially turns one person's voice into something that sounds like a small-group conversation,'' says Bill DeKruif, president of Sonare Technologies, Herman Miller's research and design arm in Chicago.
"Anyone standing just a few feet away can hear the person talking but is unable to discern the content of the conversation because it's being muddled by the other voices."'