On a cluttered desk in a dimly lit office in central Tokyo lies a golden, cylindrical object you can't find in any store. It's a combination lock that would take 3.2 trillion years to crack, about 160 times the age of the universe.

"The thief, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would all be dead by then!" laughs its maker, gadget inventor Kenji Kawakami. The lock is no advanced digital security gizmo, just a simple mechanical contrivance consisting of a shackle and 20 numbered dials with a very high number of possible combinations.

It's also nearly completely useless. Instead of simplifying the safekeeping of valuables, the lock and its 20-digit combination make life exponentially more difficult for both owner and thief.