Christmas crackers are a significant part of the festive season, just like decorations and holly and all sorts of other stuff which is utterly inessential but somehow comforting for having been around long enough to be considered traditional. At least they provide a pretty harmless icebreaker at festive events: vying for plastic junk and wearing silly hats makes intrafamilial conflict marginally less likely.
Challenged by the IET magazine‘s Vitali Vitaliev, today’s invention is an updated version of the cracker…and of course it’s electronic.
Each table would have only a few cracker devices: basically a plastic tube with a female USB connection at both ends. Diners would bring their own usb memory sticks to the table and insert these in pairs into the cracker. Two guests at a time would then attempt to withdraw their thumbdrives.
Just as with real crackers, the winner would be the guest who supplied mostly nearly the optimal tension vs time profile (Pull too hard or too gently and you come second). This would be monitored by the cracker itself which would release the loser’s stick, generate a loud cracking noise (via eg a .wav file), a short pulse of light and display a message on a screen on the cracker’s side saying “Congratulations.” It would then equip the winner to read a displayed joke aloud and pass a prize url to his/her memory device…allowing a small prize to be claimed later online. It might even take a quick snap of the smiling victor.
Two, preloaded, compressed paper hats would also be spat onto the table each time, made perhaps from sliced paper mesh (as in expandable metal sheets).
Everyone could get to pull a cracker with everyone else and there would be much less cleaning up required of the resulting waste paper.