The Washington Post just published a series of infographics depicting the history of appliances and the Internet.
They listed that MyToaster from 2008 was a significant event that shaped Connected Appliance and the Consumer Internet of Things Products.
On September 17th, I got a bunch of Facebook messages that said my Tweeting Toaster was now a Ziggy comic. 🙂
My Tweeting Toaster is a step in the self-aware direction for appliances. This Ziggy cartoon made me smile, but it also made me realize the inevitability of social objects and the Internet of Things and then Skynet. Hmm, and Ziggy was the name of the computer in Quantum Leap…
Check out the latest top 10 list from Mashable compiled by Matt Petronzio: 10 Best Inanimate Objects on Twitter
MyToaster boasts an impressive number of followers (almost 1,500) for merely tweeting “Toasting” and “Done Toasting” every morning, and each tweet gets retweeted by at least a handful of followers. For many people, these tweets comprise the best two minutes of the day.
(Just don’t let my toaster hear you say “inanimate” – this is a robophobic slur)
You might be hearing this new buzz-phrase, “Internet of Things” quite a bit lately. You might be wondering what it’s all about. Let me try to explain.
A “thing” could be a lot of things, but it’s not people (and definitely not places). That leaves everything else. Now according to the Internet, there are 6,767,805,208 people on Earth and of those 6,767,805,208 people 1,802,330,457 have used the Internet. That’s (only) 26%. So, that means one out of four people do not know what Numa Numa is all about. This also means there are a lot more things than people. A thing could be a camera, mobile device, sensors, your air conditioner, a river, and even a toaster.
The trick to the “Internet of Things” or the “Web of Things” will be providing connectivity to all of those things. Once we do, we will be able to gain access to a lot of information. The next challenge will be making that data useful in our everyday lives. We are just at the start of this, that’s why we are just starting to hear about it (with some help with IBM commercials).
I have been fascinated by this concept since I first joined the Internet, back where GeoCities and L’Hotel Chat were the hip spots. For me the interest started off by controlling things over the web. Then, I started wondering what are my things doing. What temperature is it at my house? What’s going on with my freezer? Is it time to refill my humidor? How much power is my computer using?
Over a year and half ago, I placed my toaster on Twitter (@mytoaster). Since then, my toaster starting using other social networks and discovered online dating all by itself. That is a weird thought, “What if things get smarter and smarter?” Things will eventually be able to socialize with other things. My (sentient) toaster might even find another compatible toaster using eHarmony.
I am not saying that this is the best example of the Internet of Things, but what I am saying is that it’s a start. I believe in a future of connected things so strongly that I joined a start up company that enabled my toaster way back when I was more interesting than my things.
For a good primer on the Internet of Things, check the recent article on Silicon.com called, “Cheat Sheet: The internet of things”. My toaster even gets a tongue-in-cheek reference. Actually there are lots of great sites that are covering the Internet of Things and making things happen in this emerging industry – Singularity Hub, ReadWriteWeb, Wired.com to name a few.
My guess is that you will hear more and more about The Internet of Things until it hits Smart Grid proportions, then you will hear about the next big thing – the smart internet of things grid perhaps.
My toaster is back in the news with a post on FoxNews.com regarding “Things that Tweet”. I love things that can speak and soon the idea of a “web of things” will not be so odd.
One day you put your toaster on a social networking site. And then on another day you find out that your toaster has more friends than you.
This little story sounds made up. Well, it’s not.
My toaster has had a Twitter page since December 2008, tweeting the status of my toast making habits for all of the world to follow. On occasion people even write to the toaster to ask what it’s toasting. Oddly enough, it can tell you.
I get asked, “Why have your toaster on the Internet?” Well, it’s a starting point for future projects and part sarcasm. I have been working on gizmos, web control, and power / resource management projects with my friend Jason Winters of ioBridge for over a decade. One day I had the idea to overlay appliance usage data onto a graph of my power consumption for my house. My theory is to use this appliance meta data to reduce the power I use everyday by pointing directly to the power hogs. It’s a start to my internet of things at my house. If you want to get start your own Skynet, visit Wired’s Wiki on making things talk. I use the IO-204 control and monitor module from ioBridge.com.
OK, mostly it’s sarcasm.
My Toaster has been recently written about on Wired.com, ReadWriteWeb, PC World, Tiscali, De Morgen, XYCity China, etc. If you want to hear about it straight from the bread slot, you can get live updates from my toaster by following @MyToaster on Twitter.
I am now jealous of my toaster which has made for awkward moments when I want some crunchy Wonder Bread.