(Part of The Future: A Retrospective)
"At last, relief from the turnoff of a dry kiss!" If you were holding off on writing your Future Stuff author slash, now would seem to be your golden opportunity. The "microsponge" is the key to future romance: "a microscopic, synthetic sphere that can be programmed to release cosmetic or pharmaceutical agents in response to pressure, time, or temperature." That actually sounds pretty cool, and it has applications beyond remoisturizing lipstick. Like, uh, acne cream. Aerosols. Lots of stuff.
Near as I can tell, Advanced Polymer Systems is out of business, and budget cosmetics company Pavion (makers of Wet 'N' Wild!) were bought by AM Cosmetics (makets of Artimatic!) in 1997. AM was then bought by Markwins in 2003. I guess Markwins was started by a guy named Mark?
Hu-man! Your biological smell is offensive! Why have you not applied your mandatory Electronic Deodorant? The General Medical Company has skipped the company-naming step and gone right to developing the product: Drionic, which uses a process called iontopheoresis to temporarily plug up your sweat ducts. A treatment takes about an hour and the results last for about six weeks.
It looks like this technique works really well for people who have problems with excess sweat, and for amputees who have problems with sweat accumulation at the stump. The idea that deodorant would become a big-ticket item didn't pan out, though, for any number of reasons. For instance the time investment, "mild discomfort," and the unlikelihood that a medical supply company would suddenly decide to go into a mass market business or even start using standard batteries.
As of Future Stuff you needed a prescription to buy a Drionic, but now it looks like you can just mail in an order form to buy a basic device for $135/2007. Also check out Drionic Modifications, which has projects like making your Drionic run off wall power instead of the proprietary batteries.
|Super Pore Cleaner|
"From the dermatologist who brought you Retin-A comes a new cosmetic skin treatment" that's pretty boring, unless you want to hear about inventor Albert Kligman's seedy past. It's a facial peel that removes "dirt, oil, and bacteria from [your] pores."
The whole thing seems kind of sketchy and Zizmor-y, especially given that (from the patent via Future Stuff) "a little discomfort is sometimes experienced when the backing is removed... as may be evidence [sic] by some reddening of the treated skin."
Update: Reader Frank writes in to give the fate of this product that I didn't provide: "it sounds like that product is indeed on the market and has been for a few years. They're called Biore strips... Dr. Kisling probably got a few more million for it."
I can't believe I started missing Hammacher-Schlemmer. Here's the Goodbye Sleeplines pillow, endorsed by "face-lift veteran Phyllis Diller." The pillow has "a hollow center cut out in a shape that improves the circulation of blood to the face." Your head nestles in the hollow center (similar to what you might see in a massage chair) and your face never feels pressure from the deadly, wrinkle-producing pillow surface.
One problem is that the product name looks like "Goodbye Sleepiness", implying that the pillow will keep you up all night. In a double-whammy this 1990 NYT article mentions both this product (stating that it did in fact make it to Hammacher-Schlemmer) and a Japanese "High-Tech Toilet" like the ones we covered way back when. I don't see any other references to this pillow, or any similar pillows being sold today.
|Living Skin Equivalent|
I love this creepy name. "While not admitting any wrongdoing, we're prepared to offer you up to 100 square feet of living skin equivalent." Future Stuff is almost somber when describing the possibilities: "No guarantees exist yet, but the chances are good that in the future we will be able to patch up our skin just like an old pair of jeans!"
Living Skin Equivalent is a term of art that's still in use today. The inventor profiled here, Eugene Bell, is the guy who basically came up with the idea of skin grafts grown from your own cells. This is a refinement of the basic idea that "keep[s] the cells together in a total skinlike structure."
The other term of art mentioned in this Future Stuff entry, Reconstructive Tissue Filler, doesn't show up on the web, but this sort of product is definitely on the market. Thing is, it was on the market in 1989, too, and I don't know how much it's improved since or what Future StufF is promising.
Eugene Bell died in 2007, around the time I started rewiewing Future Stuff. The company he started, Organogenesis, is still in business, and I like to think that manager of corporate develoment Doug Billings is now in this line of work.
|Suntan in a Bottle|
This is a good illustration of the short attention span of magazine writing. This entry starts out: "Worried aobut getting skin cancer? Your concern may soon fade away like last year's tan." Near the end we get this tidbit: "With the depletion of the ozone layer and estimates of skin cancer attacking over 500,000 people a year... a product like this could someday be necessary for survival." It starts out telling you about a tanning accessory and ends up preaching apocalypse. The only constant: Melano-Tan!
"Scientists at the university of Arizona have now synthesized and patented a hormone that triggers the body to create a tan." Those scientists include Mac E. Hadley, quoted in Future Stuff.
Today there are products that will bronze your skin, but they don't do it by stimulating melanin production. Like e-mail, Melano-Tan has dropped its hyphen and become melanotan. Wired picks up the story from there.
But that was only the beginning: The molecule turns out to activate five different chemical systems throughout the body. It's a potent anti-inflammatory, and in 1996 further tests of the drug showed that it also promotes sexual arousal. Not simple vascular stimulation, as with Viagra, but a direct action in the hypothalamus, the brain's emotional switchboard...
Melanotan, originally licensed to Princeton, New Jersey's Palatin Technologies, has been shelved precisely because of its broad, potent action in the body.
Wow! Future Stuff didn't see that coming ("will need FDA approval")! Melanotan didn't get FDA approval, but you can see a a YouTube video about it, complete with YouTube comments about the best ways to smuggle it into the country.
I'm sorry to have to tell you this but Mac Hadley was murdered in 2006 by someone who then set his house on fire. Geez, what a world.
|Sunburn Protection Meter|
OK, I've had some time to recover and we move on to the sunburn protection meter, "about the size of a pocket calculator"; not the best comparison, I realize now, since the size of a pocket calculator might itself change over time. Anyway, you point this device at Old Yeller and it measures the UV rays. Pretty slick. Undoubtedly with a digital readout that tells you how long you can safely stay in the sun.
No, there is a digital readout, but it gives you a number between 1 and 120. "[A] reading of 100 will reflect the sun's strenght in mid-summer on a clear day at high noon in southern Florida." I guess 1 is "inside a lead box" and 120 is "actually standing on the surface of the sun." Anyway, you read off your number and then look on the back of the pocket calculator which tells you how long you should actually stay in the sun.
If it was me, I'd spring for the extra fifty NAND gates that would turn the arbitrary number into a number of minutes. But it's not me. You can buy UV monitors today for around $10-$20/2007 (they look like credit cards or Tamagotchi), but they still still give you an arbitrary number (albeit on a scale defined by the EPA). However it looks like they also time your exposure. In general, reviewers don't like them much. Because really who likes being told to come out of the sun?
This document (source) is part of Crummy, the webspace of Leonard Richardson (contact information). It was last modified on Monday, March 31 2008, 00:26:30 Nowhere Standard Time and last built on Friday, October 31 2014, 06:00:03 Nowhere Standard Time.