Radica has launched a handheld machine that plays 20 Questions to win, taking the opposite approach to the finish line with startlingly accurate results. You think of something, then the machine starts with a gigantic catalog of all possible results, steadily working its way to a smaller and smaller list thanks to carefully crafted questions to which you can answer "Yes" or "No," but also "Sometimes" or "Unknown." There are limitations; for instance, you can’t use proper nouns such as celebrities, cities or your dog. Still, any generic object is fair game including, in my testing, strawberries, digital cameras, meerkats and stereo loudspeakers, among others.
The traditional questions are there: "Is it flat?" "Could it be found in a classroom?" "Does it weigh more than a duck?" There are some updates, too: " Is it bigger than a breadbox?" is now, "Is it bigger than a microwave oven?" After the 20th question, it tosses out its leading guess. If that’s not right, it asks five more questions, guessing again after Number 25. If it’s still wrong, it concedes defeat with, "I guess you were lucky this time!" If it’ s right, it exclaims, "I’m very smart! I win!"
TIME Gadget of the Week
Related link: 20Q