In today’s highly computerized society, it’s easy to make an expensive purchase or a life-changing decision with minimal effort.
Sometimes, the importance of a decision is out of sync with how much work is required to make that decision.
For example, now that online purchases are extremely “low friction,” it is possible to order 500 king cobras and have them shipped to your house or apartment with just a single button click on a web site.
Previously, one would have had to actually go to a store and start throwing cobras into a shopping bag, loading them into your car, etc., which would have given the purchaser time to reflect on their life decisions.
In order to bring back “friction”—or at least make the danger / importance of a decision evident—the following computer accessory is proposed: a hinged alligator mouth with a button inside (Figure 1).
For any big-ticket purchase or important decision (e.g. “Submit your taxes online”), you will no longer be able to confirm your decision by simply clicking on a button on screen. Instead, you have to reach into the alligator’s mouth and click the “Confirm” button.
The alligator mouth would not necessarily have to even have the capability of chomping on the button-pushing user: it’s possible that the psychological impact of placing one’s hand into the mouth would be sufficient to make the user think twice about their purchase.
Since people make more and more of their purchases on smartphones, it’s likely that this alligator mouth would be very inconvenient, since it’s not very portable. To solve this issue, we can bring the “clamshell” form factor back to cell phone designs, then add a motorized mechanism to allow the phone to snap closed onto the user’s fingers.
This is basically an Internet-enabled version of the enormous stone “Mouth of Truth” in Rome.
PROS: Reduces the likelihood of poorly-considered Internet purchases.
CONS: May cause enormous psychological trauma and/or loss of important fingers.