When I was a lad, about 8 I reckon, I found a book in the school library at Bybrook Junior School. It was called ‘Danny Dunny Invisible Boy’ by Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin. They were American novels written in the 50s – 70s about a boy who lived with his mother who was housekeeper to Professor Bullfinch. Danny would invariably casue a minor accident in the professor’s lab which would lead to a chance discovery of something amazing.
In this story, Danny’s accident caused a new semiconducting material (I seem to remember) to be created. It enabled the professor to build a small flying ‘bug’. By doning a crash helmet with built-in screens and gloves, the wearer could fly the bug and see and hear what it saw and heard, via the helmet and feel what it felt via the gloves.
This story absolutely captivated me and never left me. I remember my teacher tapping me and saying she had been calling to me a number of times. I was so entranced by the book, I had not heard her. She said it was good to see someone so enjoying a book and that I could carry on. Mrs Samual, a great Teacher.
So to my inspiration for making a post…This: ‘Robotic insect: World’s smallest flying robot takes off‘
After forty one years, they have made one. Ok it doesn’t have a video camera or sound and touch sensors. Yet. But it will before long. This one seems to be on a leash too, presumably to send control signals and provide power to it. But it will be radio controlled before long, I have no doubt.
I had my own ideas back then as to what I would do with one. I won’t go into that! But it does worry me now. We are the most watched population on the planet already. Imagine if these, equipped with video and audio capabilities were to be available. They could be anywhere, unnoticed. Privacy would become practically impossible ever again. One could build a radio-proof room, thus ensuring no signals could get in or out. But even then an autonomouse bug with a pre-programmed mission could capture and store sound and vision until it was able to escape through an opening door.
As an aside, when ebay came into existence, I realised it could help me find these books. Indeed in a relatively short time I was able to collect the whole set twice over. I re-read the three I had managed to get my hands on when a lad and the others too. Although technically dated, they still read very well. I will be leaving mine to my grandchildren and hoping they can find the same inspiration I did…