Sunday, 22 January 2012

Odd Sock Blues - The GPS Solution

If Sir Issac Newton had turned his attention to socks instead of towards inventing gravity and the cat flap (although disappointingly he merely named Gravity, as people had been discovering it on a daily basis for millions of years before, and had no connection with the cat flaps despite the legend to the contrary) then I feel sure that his first law would have read as follows:

Newton's First Law Of Socks
#1: No matter how many one has, one can never find a pair

And that his second would have read as follows
#2: Socks will always find a way to de-couple.

Take me for an example.  This year, as is always the way, I got plenty of new socks for Christmas.  I needed these for two reasons: firstly because I tend to wear holes in them quite quickly and secondly because we have a sock monster that lives under the bed and devours socks.  Not pairs of socks, you understand, just half a pair.

The existence of Sock Monsters has long been postulated by scientists and researchers into the paranormal, but to date there have, much like the Loch Ness Monster, been no clear sightings that couldn't be attributed to a bit too much to drink of a Saturday night or, in the case of the Sock Monster, a cat suffering from a sudden bout of Mad Cats Disease (anyone who has ever owned a cat will be familiar with MCD, sometimes known as Cracker-Cat - where they suddenly howl around the house chasing after something invisible for no apparent reason)

The existence of such a creature as the Sock Monster can, however, be the only explanation for the steadily growing pile of odd socks by the bedside for which a partner has never been found.  That or Alien Abduction (don't discount it guys, there's probably a whole shed load of life on a pair of socks for aliens to come along and probe)

I used to know someone who got so tired of having the same old argument about not being able to find matching socks at 5am that he took to deliberately wearing clashing socks of different colours.  This would never work in our house, mind you, where Herself cannot quite understand how I am able to cope all day wearing a sock that is merely turned inside out (whereas until it was pointed out I was entirely oblivious to the fact she usually has to go for a bit of a lie down to recover (JOKE))

So it seems to me that we urgently need a solution to the problem: one that suits our technical age and, after applying literally minutes of thought to the problem I came up with Global Positioning for your socks.

The basic idea is:
1) buy a pair of socks
2) by some technical means scan your new socks into your i-phone or android phone app
3) when, inevitably, one of the socks goes missing you re-scan the other one, activating the GPS signal
4) your phone then guides you to the missing sock

I checked out the internet whilst writing this post to see if anyone was actually marketing such a product and the closest I came was to a cat named Socks here that had been fitted with a GPS collar, so I feel my invention is relatively safe thus far - now all I need to do is find the solution to point 2

2) Technical means to find missing sock

My initial thought was that a barcode could be stitched into the pattern of the sock, thus enabling you to scan the barcode.  This would certainly help with any instance where you had to go to a communal changing room and accidentally put on the wrong pair of socks - but wouldn't help with the actual capacity for tracking down a missing sock as per the requirement

My next idea, a low background level of radiation for the socks, had it's own drawbacks - in so much as whilst it would be relatively easy to find the sock it would become increasingly difficult to find the actual foot.

Especially after it was hacked off to save the rest of the leg.

Obviously we could move into the realm of washable shoes, however this would drastically increase the space requirement for storage.

This only leaves us with one viable solution: some form of microchip sewn into the side of the sock and encased in a waterproof plastic to stop water damage. Said chip would need to be at a place where
a) It would be unlikely to rub or cause discomfort
b) be unlikely to easily dislodge or come lose

However, I feel that the cost of production of such a small chip, required plastic coating and development of applicable software would be of such a high level that the price to the consumer would be at a level where it was infinitely cheaper and easier to simply wait until the next Christmas and/or birthday when the inevitable present of new socks arrives.

The solution then would seem to be to find some new use for all the uneaten socks of the world - but I fear that the world would never be the same if we were to suddenly find that the Sock Puppets of the world had gone on strike and were giving humans the boot.

GPS for socks - you heard it here first folks


Argent said...

There are a couple of low tech solutions:
1) give up wearing socks and the starving sock monster will move elsewhere.
2) always buy the same socks - all pairs the same colour and style, that way you will always have a pair.

RFID chips are the way forward. Chances are your sock is in your house somewhere. RFID chips are cheap and are used all over the place by shops to tag their stock to stop people nicking it.

Stephen Hayes said...

This was a fun blog to read. I really enjoy your wit.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

argent - matching socks works, but you'd have to guarantee your supply, and once a pair began to fade you'd end up with differing shades

RFID would only work if someone were to take the sock out of your house past the security sensors, whereupon a burly security guard would grab your collar and ask "are these your socks that you're wearing?"

Stephen - thanks :)

The Bug said...

Not QUITE on the same subject, my dad always safety pins his socks together when he takes them off - & washes them with the pins in. Fool proof, if a bit labor intensive.