03:22 PM

New Office Perk

How's this for a new way to foster office camaraderie: A networked coffee pot. Ichiro Shiio, an associate professor of human-computer interaction at Tamagawa University in Tokyo, dubbed his invention the Meeting Pot.

When someone starts a brew, the pot informs coworkers by E-mail, a Web page update, or wirelessly activated desktop boxes with fans that blow out the aroma of instant coffee powder. "This encourages informal communi-cations at the office," Shiio's Web site says.

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