I’m warning you know, I’m in quite a rambley place today, and I think it is only fair to warn you of this before we embark on what is almost quite certainly going to be something of a ramble though my thoughts, as an example most of the following prose came to me this morning while singing the tune to rent-a-ghost
I was a great fan of tomorrows’ world as a child, all the new gadgetry and wiz bangs always caught my imagination, of course all the biology and chemical stuff left me cold, it’s just dull, and to this day if I pick up a copy of the New Scientist, it’s the technology and physics that I read, my heart sinks If the cover is trying to entice me into an article on flowers or heaven forbid DNA!.
Thinking back to Tomorrow’s World, it wasn’t actually very good at predicting the future, I’m pretty sure they never told me about the internet, and if they had been right we would all be driving around in Sinclair C5’s not Citron C5’s (I wonder did Sir Clive ever consider suing them?)
The ‘Intelligent’ Bin
One of the inventions I remember they told me would revolutionize my life was the intelligent Bin. This bin so I was told would scan the bar code of every item of food waste you put in it (or more accurately you would scan the bar code over the bin) and it would tell you when you where out of milk. Isn’t it a bit late to be telling me this when I’m putting the carton in the bin?
The last thing you need to be told at 6:30 on a Sunday morning is that your out of Milk, it would have been nice to know at least the night before, then you could have done something about it. So this got my old* brain cells ticking over.
It’s obvious to me that you don’t want the thing you throw away your food into to be the thing to tell you what food you’ve got, you want the thing you store your food in to tell you what food you’ve got, how about the fridge?
Your fridge has a couple of things going for it that your bin doesn’t:
First of all, it’s plugged in; I can never quite remember where this wonder bin was going to get its power from. I don’t think it had the engine from the DeLorean time machine in Back to the Future, so it wasn’t the rubbish powering this thing; think about it, you would have had to plug your bin in!
One thing you don’t do with your fridge (intentionally anyway) is fill it with smelly rubbish, this means you’re less inclined to throw it out in the yard and spray it with Domestos, which as we know kills’ 99% of all known germs and I would guess is pretty bad for the gubbins in a barcode reading super bin tool.
Do with these things going for it I started to think, ‘how would the fridge know what was in it, and more importantly how much was left?’
Firstly let’s put RFID tags in all the food, this is happening anyway; the likes of ASDA can see the advantage of being able to read the entire contents of a trolley without unpacking it, (shoplifting, and less checkout staff!),
So we’ve got tags in all the food, we can read them and it will tell us what’s in the fridge, the next step is to work out how much is left,
Idea one, weight the shelves:
Well it’s simple enough technically, but I think it would be quite a chore, to get the numbers right, and besides, how would you know that you where out of butter, and not just low milk?. No we need a better way.
Idea Two, let the food tell you:
Peter in work, besides getting quite ill, has dabbled thanks mainly to a high disposable income and the Halifax, in small time share dealings, he was incredibly bad at it, he bought Mark’s and Spencer shares, just before they fell, and flushed with success he got some Marconi shares, just before the company all but disappeared. Thankfully for peter, he went and got a yuppie flat, a much sounder investment, with the added bonus of ting all his money up in property and removing the ability for him to fritter it away on shares.
His brother how ever is much more successful at this share dealing lark, from the sounds of it, he achieves this by doing the opposite of peter, as well as reading up on the companies he invests in.
This does have something to do with the story honest. His (peter’s brother’s) current big investment is in a company called timestrip, they apparently have invented a very clever thing that you stick on food, and it tells you how long it’s got left before it goes off. It’s like an intelligent best before date really.
So being a person who joins dots I thought, if you coupled the RFID thingy with the timestrip thingy, you would have something that when asked could tell you what it was and how long it had left in it! All you need now is something that measures how much milk is in a carton (that can’t be to hard) and you’ve got all the bits,
The fridge would know what you had, how long it had left, and how much of it you had (and could work out how fast you go though it too), that way it would be able to tell you before you ran out of things that it would probably be best if you nipped to little Tesco and got an extra few pints of green milk.
And as an added bonus, if we put some adaptors on the back of the fridge you could wire up your cupboards with little aerials that way your fridge could know everything, and even tell you when you are out of tea bags (I think all technologies should be measured against how it benefits my ability to drink tea!)
I’m a bit odd, aren’t I?
You now have a more detailed than you probably ever wanted account of what goes on in my mind, while I make my cornflakes in the morning. I will leave you with one thought that I guarantee will stick with you all day’