Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Knocking Box

The gift for someone who has everything (except for a subtle sense of nagging dread)
  [vote for,

The Knocking Box is a fiendishly difficult puzzle box with some electronics and mechanical elements hidden inside, designed to be given as a gift. The puzzle box element is actually pretty simple, it just gives few clues as to how it is to be opened (and most of those are misleading). Eventually the recipient gives up. But, then again, that’s the idea, the box wants you to give up. It wants to be put on a shelf and forgotten.

Because, once it has been left untouched for a period of 7 days (as reported by onboard accelerometers) the two hidden features are activated (and stay activated).

1. Echo Knock. The Knocking Box will listen with its onboard microphones for any sound that matches its exterior being tapped or knocked upon. It will count the number of taps or knocks and will knock back the same number of times... with two exceptions. Firstly, if it detects that you have knocked in the tempo of shave-and-a-haircut it will knock back twice to the tempo of two-bits. Secondly, if you knock to the tempo of the drumbeat from the title music from The Terminator, it will knock back between one and five times to indicate battery level.

2. Fingernail scatch. Once the hidden features have been activated and the Knocking Box has in addition not been moved in the last day, it will, at random times (just a few times a day), gently scratch at the inside of the box, as if something with sharp fingernails or claws is waking up and testing its environment.

Internally the Knocking Box is a low power computer capable of working in a sealed environment (something like a Raspberry Pi) with a really big rechargeable battery (so that this can run for months), a servo controller, two quiet servo motors (scratch and knock) with appropriate mechanics so that the rotation of the servos is translated into realistic sounding knocks and scratches. It also includes a microphone and accelerometer (for obvious reasons). Included in the pack (but not intended to be given to the recipient) is a spare battery so that the kind friend/prankster can easily open the box and swap the battery out every couple of months with a freshly charged one while the recipient/victim is out of the room for five minutes. Also included are the instructions to open the box and the magnet that you have to touch to one of its surfaces to release the latch. Software is fairly simple with the exception of being able to understand the sound of a knock be able to differentiate this from other background/handling noises. I’m just going to wave my arms and say ‘pattern recognition’ and ‘machine learning’ for that one.

The Knocking Box is not available anywhere and will definitely not explode in your face. Ever.

st3f, Nov 04 2019

Box with the sound of its own making https://www.metmuse...ction/search/689665
a particular favourite piece of me and many others [xenzag, Nov 04 2019]

Useless Machine https://en.wikipedi...iki/Useless_machine
Generic [8th of 7, Nov 05 2019]


       Will it summon Pinhead and the Cenobites if you slide its panels into the Lament Configuration ?   

       We suggest the inclusion of a motor-driven mass at the end of an eccentric arm. One fast rotation causes the box to move position slightly. This should be triggered at quiet times when the box can be fairly sure it is not being observed.
8th of 7, Nov 04 2019

       Not bad - reminds me of 'Box With The Sound Of Its Own Making' - (see link) and also 'The Tell Tale Heart' by Edgar Allan Poe. Mysteriously produced noises are always a winner for me.
xenzag, Nov 04 2019

       Shoot, st3f, I thought you fell off the flat planet and were gone for good.   

       I was in the process of making a list of people who "deserve" an Echo Box, and to my dismay, at the end it was revealed I wouldn't be able to purchase a few/bunch/whole lot.   

       Great one, oh Great one. :-)
blissmiss, Nov 04 2019

       [8th of 7]; I was thinking it needs to move, too.
neutrinos_shadow, Nov 04 2019

       Like the idea! [+]
Frankx, Nov 04 2019

       OK, I will!
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 04 2019

       It's quite a sort of "Tinguely" thing in its way, this box.   

       You didn't answer the question about the Cenobites ...
8th of 7, Nov 04 2019

       //Knocking Box//   

       I thought this was going to be a sex aid for sadomasochists with claustrophobia.   

       Or maybe a very small brothel.
Skewed, Nov 06 2019

       Ask not for whom the box knocks...   

       [8th of 7] No Cenobites for you. #seinfeld   

       [blissmiss] Fell over. Couldn't get up.   

       [8th of 7], [neutrinos_shadow] Agreed. A heavy eccentric wheel that makes the box go thump/jump every now and again sounds like a good (possibly even necessary) addition.   

       [skewed] I was intending to post this idea at Halloween for greater creepiness. I didn't get around to it and didn't want to let this fester in my brain for another year so here it is a few days late. Plus the time machine was out of action. Anyhow, the name 'Knocking Box' was intended to be part of the creepiness. It's the name for the single- occupancy enclosure in a slaughterhouse in which you kill the animal. So there's that. Also, now I have the thought of a 'Single-Occupancy Brothel' but let's not go there...   

       [xenxag], [8th of 7] (again). Yep. Totally inspired by Useless Machines and the thought "What would this look like if you contained the interaction in the box?" Also (very loosely) inspired by [hippo]'s Deja Vu Home. Box with the sound of its own making sounds like my kind of thing. Also I have no need to see it because the concept and the fact that it exists is enough for me.   

       [2 fries] It knocks for th... no... not you... the lady behind you with the lazy eye and the custard fedora.
st3f, Nov 06 2019

       couldn't it move about a bit too? like a jumping bean or have I been reading too much pTerry?
po, Nov 06 2019

       // heavy eccentric wheel that makes the box go thump/jump every now and again //   

       [po], do try to keep up, there's a dear. Do you want your tartan rug tucking round your legs ? The nice lady will be here soon with the tea trolley.
8th of 7, Nov 06 2019

       //but let's not go there//   

       Add wheels & you wouldn't have to, it could come to you.   

       Or maybe it can be delivered by drone or strapped to the back of one of those nice chaps from Deliveroo.
Skewed, Nov 06 2019

       //It's the name for the single- occupancy enclosure in a slaughterhouse in which you kill the animal//   

       Ah! I didn't know that, perhaps the connotations (as a name) for a //Single-Occupancy// knocking shop would be a bit dark.   

       Especially so soon after [Frankx] //Single-use bedding// idea.
Skewed, Nov 06 2019

       For One Night Only...
Frankx, Nov 06 2019

       Sounds like a title for a James Bond movie ...
8th of 7, Nov 06 2019

       Sounds like a title for every James Bond movie.
Skewed, Nov 06 2019

       Well, certainly sounds like a plot strand of every James Bond movie ...
8th of 7, Nov 06 2019


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