Revenge by Gadget from the Wall Street Journal:
"...the field has caught the attention of graduate students at MIT's Media Lab, where it is known as "annoyancetech." Among their recent creations: a "No-Contact Jacket" that, when activated with a controller, delivers a blast of electricity to anyone who touches the person wearing it.
These devices are also a way for people to bridge the gap between the birth of a new form of annoyance (people driving while sending text messages, for instance) and the point at which lawmakers finally organize a response...
According to Dr. Tenner, the technology historian, the first widely marketed "countergadget" may have been the Zenith remote control of 1950, since it was invented in part to help people skip commercials. The trend continued in the 1970s, he says, with the proliferation of radar detectors.
But inventors say the current gadget boom is far more widespread. The chief difference is the falling cost of programmable microcontrollers, the integrated circuit chips that were once too expensive for small-scale production. Doug Freedman, a semiconductor-industry analyst, says these chips are smaller and more complex than just five years ago and cost about $1.50 on average, down from about $5 to $6 in 2002. At high volumes, he says, these chips can be found for as little as 75 cents each."
From O'Reilly Radar: Revenge by Gadget:
"...new on-demand manufacturing networks put not just the workshop but factories in China at the hacker's disposal.
...entrepreneurs are increasingly taking lessons from open source software, building business models that don't depend on proprietary IP, but instead releasing their designs in hope of building revenue in new ways
More and more sensors of various types are becoming available, making it possible to build devices that respond intelligently to more kinds of external stimuli"