There are tea gadgets and then there are tea gadgets. If you follow this site regularly, you’ll notice that we tend to comment on the latest batch of these gizmos at least once every few weeks, if not more often. While it might be going out on a limb to declare that there’s such a thing as the Ultimate Tea Gadget, a strong contender for the title appeared in London not so long ago, just in time for the Olympics. The timing for the debut of the Universal Tea Machine was no coincidence, mind you. As its designers put it, it was “part of the capital’s city-wide celebration of culture and sports during the London 2012 Olympics.”
The device requires a certain amount of interaction with users, who may end up with a decidedly unsavory cup of tea if they don’t get things right. It was conceived by a group of British designers and the Universal Tea Machine, in their words, “is a computer that relies on teamwork and calculation to produce the perfect cup of tea. By pulling a sequence of handles balls are released from their caddies at the top of the UTM to begin a sequence of events to make your ideal cuppa.”
Which particular description doesn’t quite begin to do justice to this grand contraption. The UTM may or may not actually qualify as a Rube Goldberg device, but presumably the late great gadgeteer would have approved of the spirit of the endeavor, at the very least. While the Universal Tea Machine might not have to be seen to be believed, it helps to get a look at it to make sense of the aforementioned description.
An image of this offbeat gizmo at the Web site of one of the designers might help to clarify things and there’s also more background here on how it works. Not surprisingly the UTM got its share of press attention, particularly in the United Kingdom. The reporter who penned this article was somewhat underwhelmed by it, saying “if there was a gold medal for pointless ingenuity, the UTM would be well in the running.” Last up, here’s an article that takes perhaps the most in-depth look at the UTM that I’ve seen.
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