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George Mayerle, U.S. National Library of Medicine // Public Domain
George Mayerle, U.S. National Library of Medicine // Public Domain

This 1907 Vision Test Was Designed for People of All Nationalities

George Mayerle, U.S. National Library of Medicine // Public Domain
George Mayerle, U.S. National Library of Medicine // Public Domain

At the turn of the 20th century, San Francisco was a diverse place. In fact, Angel Island Immigration Station, located on an island in the San Francisco Bay, was known as the “Ellis Island of the West,” processing some 300,000 people coming to the U.S. in the early 1900s. George Mayerle, a German optometrist working in the city at the time, encountered this diversity of languages and cultures every day in his practice. So in the 1890s, Mayerle created what was billed as “the only [eye] chart published that can be used by people of any nationality,” as The Public Domain Review alerts us.

Anticipating the difficulty immigrants, like those from China or Russia, would face when trying to read a vision test made solely with Roman letters for English-speaking readers, he designed a test that included multiple scripts. For his patients that were illiterate, he included symbols. It features two different styles of Roman scripts for English-speaking and European readers, and characters in Cyrillic, Hebrew, Japanese, and Chinese scripts as well as drawings of dogs, cats, and eyes designed to test the vision of children and others who couldn't read.

The chart, published in 1907 and measuring 22 inches by 28 inches, was double-sided, featuring black text on a white background on one side and white text on a black background on the other. According to Stephen P. Rice, an American studies professor at Ramapo College of New Jersey, there are other facets of the chart designed to test for a wide range of vision issues, including astigmatism and color vision.

As he explains in the 2012 history of the National Library of Medicine’s collections, Hidden Treasure [PDF], the worldly angle was partly a marketing strategy on Mayerle’s part. (He told fellow optometrists that the design “makes a good impression and convinces the patient of your professional expertness.”)

But that doesn’t make it a less valuable historical object. As Rice writes, “the ‘international’ chart is an artifact of an immigrant nation—produced by a German optician in a polyglot city where West met East (and which was then undergoing massive rebuilding after the 1906 earthquake)—and of a globalizing economy.”

These days, you probably won’t find a doctor who still uses Mayerle’s chart. But some century-old vision tests are still in use today. Shinobu Ishihara’s design for a visual test for colorblindness—those familiar circles filled with colored dots that form numbers in the center—were first sold internationally in 1917, and they remain the most popular way to identify deficiencies in color vision.

[h/t The Public Domain Review]

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Ker Robertson, Getty Images
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architecture
5 Scrapped Designs for the World's Most Famous Buildings
Ker Robertson, Getty Images
Ker Robertson, Getty Images

When an architect gets commissioned to build a skyscraper or a memorial, they’re usually not the only applicant for the job. Other teams of designers submit their own ideas for how it should look, too, but these are eventually passed over in favor of the final design. This is the case for some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks—in an alternate world, the Arc de Triomphe might have been a three-story-tall elephant statue, and the Lincoln Memorial a step pyramid.

GoCompare, a comparison site for financial services, dug into these could-have-been designs for Alternate Architecture, an illustrated collection of scrapped designs for some of the most famous structures in the world, from Chicago's Tribune Tower to the Sydney Opera House.

Click through the interactive graphic below to explore rejected designs for all five landmarks.

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Kohler
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technology
This $6000 Toilet Warms Your Seat, Plays Music, and Flushes on Command
Kohler
Kohler

If you buy Kohler’s latest high-tech Numi toilet, you’ll probably never leave the bathroom again. Unless it’s to yell at your Amazon Echo, that is. As Mashable reports, Kohler’s high-end Numi toilet can now be controlled with voice commands, so you’ll never have to flush the toilet with your own hand again.

The Numi intelligent toilet has been around for a while, offering beyond-luxurious features like Bluetooth music streaming and a lid that opens and closes with a remote. As Kohler announced at this year’s CES technology trade show, though, this year’s update will make it as intelligent as the rest of your smart appliances. After all, if you can turn on your lights with your voice, why can’t you flush your toilet with it?

Numi hooks up to the new Kohler Konnect smart system, allowing you to automate functions and yell at Alexa, instead of your partner, to remember to put down the seat. You can program the toilet’s settings in the smartphone app and then ask Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri to turn the built-in bidet to your favorite setting, warm up your seat for you, or change the color of the toilet's ambient nightlight.

Kohler Konnect can be used with other products to auto-fill your bathtub with water at a specific temperature, turn on custom shower settings, or shut off your sink after it pours exactly the right amount of water. If you get the Kohler smart mirror with its built-in Alexa function, you can ask your Numi toilet to play you your favorite pooping tunes, too. (Don't worry—if you don't want to yell at your toilet, you can just use the touchscreen remote.)

It will be available this fall, and Kohler estimates that it will cost somewhere between $5600 and $7800.

[h/t Mashable]

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