John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The iBag also supposedly will snitch to all your friends if you start spending too much.
For anybody alarmed at all the Australians running around screaming with purses clamped onto their fingers, don't worry – evil bag-mutants have not invaded Earth. Rather, it's the public debut of the iBag, a high-tech purse designed to shut and lock itself when its owner is in danger of overspending.
The unusual fashion prototype is rumored to utilize an armory of anti-shopaholic doodads: an LED that starts shining when you approach compulsive-shopping areas, a SIM card that texts your friends blabbing about how you're about to go on a buying spree. (Presumably they will then talk you off the ledge, and not ask you to pick them up shoes or jewelry, too.) There's even a mechanical pincer inside that closes during certain high-risk shopping times, preventing owners from grabbing their wallets – unless they're willing to destroy the bag with a crowbar or butcher knife, which I'm guessing many impulse shoppers are willing to do.
A robotic purse that tells women how and when to shop – sexist much? Well, yeah, but rest assured the concept is based on the finest science available, according to "Chief iBag Director" Jeremy Cabral. "Our research shows that women are more likely to splurge on their credit cards than men," Cabral says in the below video, "and less likely to pay it off in full each month." He does go on to say that a male version could be forthcoming. I would suggest an intelligent scarf that slams over the mouth of any man who enters a cigar bar.
Over at Fashioning Tech, Syuzi wonders if the iBag is "a hoax," pointing out that it's promoted by an Australian finance company called Credit Card Finder. There is a big, big chance of that. But the company's marketers are calling our bluff, saying it will manufacture the wearable clam if they "receive enough interest." The alleged price would be $174 American, leading one to wonder: Does there first need to be a different self-shutting bag, to stop people from buying this feckless product?
Top image courtesy of Credit Card Finder