We may have been slow to grasp the importance of Los Angeles artist-designer Michael Kontopoulos' newest invention, but the British media immediately grasped it. Or, perhaps, make that “gasped it.” Metro U.K.

is fascinated with Kontopoulos' Sigh Collector, a wood-boxed device

that detects chest expansions larger than those associated with normal

breathing, then rather noisily translates the actions into air that is pumped into a

red, balloon-like bladder. A video demonstrates how it works, showing Kontopoulous reacting to the opening of a bill and watching bad news on TV. Each bit of heavy exhalation sets the pump in action to measure our respiratory despair with modern times.

For DIYers, there are what Metro U.K. calls “distinctly non-Ikea-like instructions.”

Some Internet posters have found the device too bulky and heavy, yet

they should draw comfort from its relative simplicity compared to

another Kontopoulos' invention for something he called “Removal

Studies.”  That project coupled video surveillance with a small contraption

that incrementally pulls away a sleeper's blankets during the course of

a night. The idea is to study the effects on the sleeper by watching

him unconsciously tug back his vanishing blanket. Given the current

economic crisis, perhaps the two systems should be sold as an

integrated package.

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