Ms. Pac Man, gnomes and pink bodysuits, oh my!
It’s April Fools’ Day and tech companies in the Bay Area and beyond want to get you started off on the right foot with some wacky hijinks. The wide range of pranks, faux products and spoofs — many mocking Silicon Valley’s tech-obsessed culture — are part of a long tradition that gives businesses ranging from small startups to global corporate giants a chance to show off their senses of humor.
If you’ve ever dreamed of taking a trip back to the ’80s to enjoy a game of Pac Man, today’s your lucky day. Google launched a Pac Man feature on Google Maps Friday that lets users help Ms. Pac Man gobble up dots through a maze, while avoiding the dreaded “monsters” or ghosts. Disclaimer: It’s really entertaining. The company followed up hours later with the release of Google Gnome, a smart helper for the yard that can answer burning questions like, “what sound does an opossum make?” It can trim your hedges, turn your garden hose on and off and controls lawnmowers or leaf blowers, according to the company. Oh, and in case you hadn’t guessed: it resembles a garden gnome, red hat and all. So don’t mow that lawn today– have a margarita and let the gnome take care of it instead!
Google’s latest trick was released midnight Saturday and this one is for our furry, four-legged friends. The company’s app got a temporary update on iOS that allows for custom-in product searching for dogs and cats. The feature, called, “I’m feeling woof and I’m feeling meow,” will generate images that are satisfying to our furry companions– think raw tuna and dog toys. To give this a spin, have your cats and dogs go to “settings” in the google app on iOS.
In its own nod to the beloved pets of the world, Amazon debuted its Petlexa technology, which lets virtual home assistant Echo communicate with animals. A video for the product showed the device tracking a hamster’s steps as it ran endlessly on a hamster wheel and a cat calling on the device to order sushi. With a few barks, Petlexa can launch an automatic ball thrower.
T-Mobile released its first ever “ONEsie,” a bright pink body suit that is the literal meaning of “unlimited coverage.” The suit tracks all of your body’s movements in real time– think of it as wearing a giant Fitbit– while 4G LTE nanofibers turn you into a walking, talking human wi-fi hotspot. You can also charge the suit using motion and body heat. When it’s time to wake up, a built-in alarm literally shakes you awake. The suit is also very fashion-forward, according to T-Mobile. Talk about taking a step into the future.
Lyft got things going Thursday, giving fans a sneak peek of “autonomous ride-hailing” with a new gadget called Mono. When wearing the device, essentially a high-tech glove, users can request a ride without even bothering to pull out their smartphones.
“With Mono, we want to make the entire ridesharing process as seamless as possible,” Lyft wrote in a blog post, “whether you’re a bellman who can’t whistle or a mom with her hands full; a nudist who needs a ride or a millennial who just can’t even.”
And since we like to obsessively track our daily activities– our calorie intake, exercise and sleeping habits, just to name a few– why not track our business in the bathroom?
Quilted Northern released uSit Saturday, “the world’s first biometric tracking device designed to record everything you do in the bathroom.”
The product collects data and analyzes bathroom trips, “including duration, frequency and exertion levels. It enables you to set personal goals, earn badges, share progress on social media, and even compete against friends and family in healthy competitions. It also comes with a custom ergonomic belt that integrates seamlessly into any wardrobe,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.
Staff writer Marisa Kendall contributed.