Human beings are stupid creatures.
This is a fact.
Even the smartest among us has our dumb moments, which means a lot of companies have to spend a lot of money making things idiot-proof so that we don't hurt ourselves or others.
Here are 11 products engineers had to build to account for the dumbness of humans.
1. Sound boxes for silent air conditioners
I used to work in a building where the air ducts and air diffusers were originally designed to be almost completely silent. Well apparently when the building opened a lot of tenants complained that the air wasn't working. While it was working fine, they couldn't hear it and assumed it wasn't running. The building ended up putting these sound boxes in the ceiling near every diffuser to simulate the sound of air blowing.
2. Train barriers
Putting barriers at railroad crossings that block the whole road and not just the directional lane, because even with lights flashing and barriers down people still think they can drive around the gates and beat the train. I’ve been on scene for some pretty nasty cleanups because people didn’t want to wait an extra 5 minutes for a train to pass.
5. Dial tone
If you work in an office, chances are you have an IP desk phone (the ones that use a network cable). Now if you pick it up you will hear a 'dial tone' or some other white noise. That's completely artificial, its just an audio file the phone goes out of its way to play for you. Why? Normally the phones are silent but the first company that popularized then (I think it was Cisco) kept getting complaints that the phones were "broken" because there was no dial tone. So they just slapped some white noise on the phones, and people stopped complaining.
6. Packaged cakes
[...] originally box cake mix at the grocery store only needed water added to it and nothing else. People wouldn't buy it because it didn't "feel" like they were actually making a cake. So they decided to make it so the consumer had to add an egg and some oil.
7. Power paper cutters
8. Two button systems in general
A lot of large scale manufacturing companies use this two button system for running an operation on a machine. It is mainly for safety concerns. Another cool way they have idiot-proof machines is adding a safety curtain. Basically its an infrared sensor that will make the machine shut off when something brakes its plane (hands, fingers, their head). They want people to leave work with the same amount of fingers as they showed up with.Neat.
9. Brass parts
If you see parts made out of brass, 9 times out of 10, it's designed to be broken. Basically, when something fucks up, instead of having something expensive break, they put that in to break first. Also, the power plugs on a PlayStation. Kudos to Sony, nobody is going to fuck that up. EDIT: To clarify, with the PlayStation AC adapter, I meant the end that plugs into the console. What I was pointing out is that it's not only impossible to plug that in the wrong way around, but also that it's very clear to the end user that they are making the mistake. Also, they're designed so that if you trip over them, the cable will break before the socket in your console.
10. Baggage claim
Many airports make you walk a certain distance to the baggage claim so that you don't get there earlier than your luggage does. People will walk five minutes without complaint, but whine like two-year-olds if they have to stand around for five minutes.
11. Buttons in the cockpit
I did some work for the pilot training department ("ground school") of a major US airline based in Atlanta. They told us on the equipment we were providing to be sure that the buttons couldn't be removed and there weren't any gaps, because the pilots - who at this level were making probably $100K+ in the early 90's - would steal the buttons and fill any gaps with pieces of paper they didn't need. According to them, at one point there was a cockpit fire because after a flight the pilots would shove their flight plan into a gap in the instrument panel on their plane. Moral is everyone, not just the general public, is shitty. Edit: to be clear, the story on the flight plans was that after the flight, to dispose of their paper flight plan, they'd just shove it into a crack in the instrument panel and let it drop in and disappear. They weren't lacking a clipboard, they were lacking a garbage can.That's messed up.