Backstory: The 'i's have it

Humor: The forthcoming iPhone is just the start of Apple's lineup of multifunction tools.

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With typical pizazz, Apple unveiled its iPhone last month. The sleekly designed, touch-screen- controlled gadget plays music, surfs the Web, takes pictures, and delivers e-mail. Oh, and you can also make phone calls with it.

The iPhone intends to reinvent the way Americans use hand-held devices. What Apple hasn't mentioned are the several other multifunction tools already in the works. Here's a sneak peek at what developers and inventors have in store for consumers.

iJava: Check your e-mail, browse the Web, download maps, play music, and brew coffee. Available in espresso, latte, and mocha frappuccino; storage capacity in two sizes: short (2 gigabytes) and grande (10 gigabytes).

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iBurrito: More than just a wireless device, hungry iWorkers can actually eat the iBurrito. Sign up to receive a fresh iBurrito daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly. Salsa, sour cream, guacamole, and new Intel Nacho-Core™ chips extra.

iMonkey: iMonkey see, iMonkey do! This voice-activated minirobot checks and replies to e-mail. Fluent in hundreds of languages and able to recognize thousands of emoticons, iMonkey also returns calls, cancels appointments, and puts off plans to see old friends and visit parents in a convincing manner.

The device's features are accessed via a "SeeNoEvil" display embedded in the robot. iMonkey responds to its user, emitting beeps and chirps according to how much attention you give it. Ignore iMonkey and it finds a new owner (or a therapist).

iClaudius: This supersleek gadget blinks red or blue when the delicate balance between Republican liberty and Imperial stability has been upset. It also holds eight gigs of Ancient Roman dance music to power the ultimate end-of-civilization orgy.

iRie: A smooth, black orb that, in true Rastafarian spirit, emotes vibes of acceptance and an aura of positive feelings. Via proprietary "Wi-Munch" technology, the iRie can also pinpoint the location of fast-food delivery restaurants in your area and instantly place your order.

iWMD: Rejected by the Department of Defense as "even too scary for us," this versatile and dangerous communication tool has a thick, outer plating that can withstand most armor-piercing ammunition and coffee spills. "Bluegoof" technology jams short-range wireless connections within 2,500 meters. The built-in stun gun subdues persons speaking in loud cellphone voices, and can direct its 50,000-volt electrical charge specifically at those over-sharing intimate details of relationships.

iStoopid: Despite your best intentions, using this device occupies your entire consciousness and renders you oblivious to the world around you. Surgically implanted ear buds play an endless loop of, "You're great, you're cool, uh-huh, you're great." Can only be used while driving or jogging. Available in Vain Vermillion and Narcissistic Noir.

Ethan Gilsdorf is a poet, teacher, and journalist from Somerville, Mass.

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