Nestle’s Finger. (2008)
Nestle put out a press release announcing they were changing the name of the Butterfinger candy bar to "The Finger," in order to give the candy "a shorter, more contemporary name."
The brainchild of Dr. Hans Zoff, head of automotive security, it prevents any dog from relieving itself on the car by administering an immediate, and relatively painfree, electric shock. But the real surprise is that the 220 volts required for this, come courtesy of our brake energy regeneration system. This converts energy created under braking into an electrical charge known as Rim Impulse Power (R.I.P.) and stores it ready for the next encounter.
Canada Buys Ely. (2008)
The Chamber of Commerce of Ely, Minnesota announced that Canada had expressed interest in buying the town and moving it north of the US/Canada border. In response to the offer, the town launched a "Keep Ely in Minnesota" campaign. Other buyers said to be interested in the town were Kansas, Oklahoma, Uzbekistan and a private party who wanted to move Ely to the South Pacific. The Ely Tourism Board subsequently said it dreamed up the hoax as a way to remind tourists that "we're still here." Reportedly, one woman phoned up the Chamber of Commerce in a panic, worried about what would happen to her property once the town moved to Canada.
"Today I am challenging Senator Obama to a bowl-off. A bowling night right here in Pennsylvania. Winner take all. I’ll even spot him two frames. It’s time for his campaign to get out of the gutter and allow all of the pins to be counted. And I’m prepared to play this game all the way to the tenth frame."
The challenge was a joking reference to Obama's poor performance when he spent an afternoon bowling in Altoona, Pennsylvania, scoring a 37 out of a possible 300.
YouTube Rickrolls its Visitors. (2008)
YouTube "rickrolled" its visitors. All the "featured video" links on its front page sent people to a video of 1980s pop singer Rick Astley singing his 1987 hit Never Gonna Give You Up. The video was posted under the user name YTRickRollsYou. Over 7 million people fell for the prank.
["Rickrolling" is a bait-and-switch-style prank that became popular on the internet in 2007. The prank is simple. A victim is tricked into clicking a link that takes them to a video of Rick Astley's song.]
Dogs on Ice. (2008)
The Daily Mirror reported that online bookmaker Blue Square, inspired by the popularity of ITV's Dancing On Ice and trying to boost the popularity of greyhound racing, had organized a "Dogs on Ice" event:
"There have been concerns that the new sport might be in some way cruel, although reports from trial runs, suggest that the dogs really love it. They have to wear special non-slip shoes, but there have still been occasions when one has slid into the crash barriers which ring the track. Organisers are talking to animal rights activists to get them on board before the big launch."
HandSolo Mobile. (2008)
Qualcomm debuted wireless cellphone technology that was truly "in your hand" because it was implanted directly into your hand. Simply put your thumb to your ear and talk into your pinkie.
The technology included features such as "high-five" call transfer, hand vibrate alert, portable music player with embedded thumb-speakers, and an alarm clock with adjustable wake-up intensities from slight finger prodding to intense face slapping
Energy From Starlight. (2008)
Norwegian energy company Statkraft released a video announcing they had developed a way to generate power from starlight:
"Our planet needs more energy pure energy. And thanks to pioneering Norwegian technology we may be able to provide it. The energy source of the future is starpower...
When stars explode, gamma rays with vast amounts of energy are hurled out into space. Now game capturers will be placed in orbit around the earth to capture this energy. This pioneering breakthrough has been developed by researchers and engineers from Statkraft."
gDay Mate. (2008)
Google Australia debuted gDay technology "enabling you to search content on the internet before it is created":
"The core technology that powers gDay™ is MATE™ (Machine Automated Temporal Extrapolation). Using MATE's™ machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques developed in Google's Sydney offices, we can construct elements of the future. Google spiders crawl publicly available web information and our index of historic, cached web content. Using a mashup of numerous factors such as recurrence plots, fuzzy measure analysis, online betting odds and the weather forecast from the iGoogle weather gadget, we can create a sophisticated model of what the internet will look like 24 hours from now."
Flying Penguins. (2008)
The BBC announced that camera crews filming near the Antarctic for its natural history series Miracles of Evolution had captured footage of Adélie penguins taking to the air. It offered a video clip of these flying penguins, which became one of the most viewed videos on the internet.
Presenter Terry Jones explained that, instead of huddling together to endure the Antarctic winter, these penguins took to the air and flew thousands of miles to the rainforests of South America where they "spend the winter basking in the tropical sun." A follow-up video explained how the BBC created the special effects of the flying penguins.
Sleeper Cabins. (2008)
Canadian airline WestJet announced it would be converting overhead luggage compartments on its planes into sleeper cabins:
"WestJet (TSX:WJA) today announced that on April 1, 2008, sleeper cabins will be introduced onboard its existing fleet of 73 Boeing 737 Next-Generation aircraft. These sleeper cabins can be booked on all of WestJet's existing flights for a nominal incremental fee of $12...
"The overhead compartment has traditionally been a place where guests have placed their carry-on baggage. Given that the overhead bins on our fleet are among the most spacious of any airline, we made the decision to offer sleeper cabins in that space."
"Prepare yourself by strapping on the included belt harness and jacking in your Wiimote. A series of toilets are presented on screen and the challenge is to tilt your body to control a never-ending stream of pee. Get as much pee in the toilets as you can while spilling as little on the floor as possible."
This tree had been developed "to reduce production costs and loss of tree life in the paper manufacturing industry." A Swiss-based company had developed the tree which grew square leaves that, when dried, were already usable as writing paper.