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Forget 43North, here are inventions we really need

For all its good intentions, it’s clear that the 43North business innovation competition wrapping up Thursday night in Buffalo is not targeting the problems that really need addressing.

With $5 million on the table, some of the 16 finalists wanted to cure cancer, promote clean energy and help employers screen for better workers – all noble endeavors, to be sure. But none of that solves our day to day frustrations.

That’s why I’m pledging my entire fortune (check Forbes’ annual ranking to see how much you can win) to the innovators in 43YouCan’tGetThereFromHere. The top three prizes will go to the geniuses who can come up with:

  1. MicroGraph: This microphone with a built-in polygraph would come in handy whenever a politician gives a speech so that you’d automatically know when he or she is lying. With connections to a big screen behind the podium, honesty could be charted on a graph as the speech progresses, constituting the ultimate visual aid.

No more waiting on PolitiFact. Micrograph would be tantamount to electronic truth serum. It would come in handy, for instance, when some Democrat says, "If you like your health insurance, you can keep it," or when a Republican denies responsibility for gridlock despite saying, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." Of course, MicroGraph also could be employed when CEO’s give earnings projections, police chiefs explain questionable shootings or when well-paid educators say, "It’s all about the kids."

  1. 20/20 America: These autochromatic contact lenses would instantaneously adjust to variable light conditions and skin pigmentation to make every American appear the same color. It will make the perfect gift for rental agents, mortgage lenders, cops, jurors and anyone else who professes not to see color but wants to be absolutely sure they have perfect vision when assessing their fellow citizens.

And the top prize – because this problem annoys me most – will go to:

  1. My Mute: Also known as "Shut the $#@% up!" when you’re yelling at the TV, My Mute would use audiophonic frequency discernment to let you block out announcers’ voices while still hearing the ambient sounds of the game.

Hitting the current mute is totally unsatisfactory because you still want to hear shoes squeaking on the court, the bat or racket hitting the ball and shoulder pads colliding. You want to be enveloped by the roar of the crowd or jolted by the referee’s whistle.

What you don’t want is the incessant yammering of commentators demonstrating what in Howard Cosell’s era was derided as "a firm grasp of the obvious."

My Mute could even be adapted to radio to silence disc jockeys under the delusion that they improve a musician’s creation by talking over it. But its greatest benefit would be letting fans enjoy a game without the inane verbiage of sports’ chattering class.

Innovative entrepreneurs should get to work now on all of these inventions, while I contemplate a truly Trumpian sum for the prize fund. In fact, knowing the ingenuity of Western New Yorkers, the check is already in the mail.

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