The ”dining table with integral dishwasher” patented in April is pretty much what it sounds like: a supper table with a dishwasher hidden within. When the meal is over, diners open trap doors and load dirty dishes into a rack that descends from view. The table is cleared and the wash cycle is under way without anybody moving from his or her chair, leaving the family bonding to proceed unabated.

Because clean dishes remain in the washer, the table becomes an ersatz cupboard between meals. Thus what efficiency experts call the ”work sequence” — the route traced by a moving cook in a kitchen — is shortened, as one stage of the process is removed altogether. Cunning, yet oddly simple.