College students in general, and Northwestern students especially, quickly learn they need to master the art of multi-tasking. Whether we’re Facebooking while taking lecture notes, paper-writing during Rock of Love or working on one extra-curricular during a meeting about another, we are masters of time-maximization. Unfortunately, our own cleverness can only take us so far down the road of inhuman productivity. From there, you may need the help of some time-saving aides, things created to do two or more things at once. So whether you’re dismantling a bomb while learning Russian or simply trying to catch up on ANTM the night before your Russian Lit midterm, these dual-purpose devices can save you some extra time.
For writers and/or secret agents
The SureFire pen
Throw out all your preconceived notions of the 25-cent Bic pens and meet a pen that can serve a second, crucial function. A prototype was just released for a cell-phone pen that can be hooked up to bluetooth or a laptop, but it also has a microphone near the ballpoint and a small ear piece at the other end. Journalism majors, get excited. Ditto for anyone who’s ever wished they could phone-a-friend mid-exam. Less practically but more badassedly, the SureFire pen features aerospace-grade aluminum and a rounded, stainless-steel tip designed to easily break windows. Because we all know how frequently college students have to balance transcribing notes with pulling off elaborate heists. How else do you think I got all of the silverware in my apartment, Allison dining hall?
For women who have breasts and love shopping
The No! Shopping Bag Bra?
Many new, sometimes goofy inventions pop up because someone noticed an obvious need going unmet. Say, electricity, or the telephone, or the Tamagotchi. In keeping with that line of reasoning, a Japanese lingerie manufacturer has created an item literally called “No! Shopping Bag Bra?” which, despite the negative opener, is in fact, Yes! a convertible shopping bag/bra. It starts as a lightly padded halter bra, but the padding unfolds to form a fully functional tote bag. A delight for kleptomaniacs used to storing shopping wares in the bras anyway, I look forward to the day when women will be undressing in Jewel checkout lines the world over.
Because keeping you warm just isn’t enough
The Zegna Solar Ski Jacket and Temperature Sweater
As the weather gets colder and more Chicago-y than ever, we begin to have heightened expectations for our outerwear. Not only must it be attractive-ish and fit us, we also would like it to keep us warm. Many of us stop our demands there, but some hard-to-please-folks can rest easier now that they have access to dual-purpose winter clothes via the Zegna Solar Ski Jacket and the Temperature Sweater. The ski jacket features solar panels in the lapels and little charger plugs throughout the inner lining so you can charge your gadgets while you enjoy the outdoors, if you are so inclined. The Temperature Sweater, however, is even more necessary (if possible). It features two LED screens — one embedded in each sleeve — that give you a readout of the temperature in your surrounding environment. Because you’ve been wasting so much time figuring out whether to keep wearing your sweater while wearing your sweater, now you can save yourself the mental exertion of figuring out whether you’re warm or cold.
The original multitasker for the enterprising student
The Sword Cane
Before high-tech gadgets and embedded microchips came along to complicate everything, there was the original dual purpose gizmo. I am, of course, referring to the Sword Cane. Available in other, equally useful incarnations, including the medical cane and the outdoorsman cane, the Sword Cane predates James Bond, Agent 86 and even Inspector Gadget. Also called swordsticks, they have been around since ancient Rome, but skyrocketed in popularity during the 18th century when they were coveted as a fashion accessory. For many reasons, ranging from the decline in canes’ popularity as a daily accessory to the heightening of airport security measures, they are no longer a common staple in everyday life. However, I fully support their reintroduction, especially among the college-student crowd. Just think: Canes to alleviate the pain of trudging around campus with an overstuffed backpack, and swords to help you through the wild brush between the arch and Norris? How have we survived so long without them!
…and it’s about time!
Finally, the most important multipurpose device I have ever discovered meets the most pressing
need I’ve encountered in my 20 years on this Earth: lederhosen with external ipod controls. Finally, my days of searching through the many pockets and cavities of my lederhosen, desperate to restart my playlist of the “Herbie Fully Loaded” soundtrack are over. All the benefits of wearing lederhosen with none of the hassle? Don’t mind if I do!