Smart toast  SEP 26 2005

I had this idea the other day that instead of having to open my laptop or turn on the TV to check the weather report, my toaster could burn that information onto my breakfast toast as a passive information delivery mechanism. I knew that people had wired toasters to print images on them, but I didn't remember that someone had done the weather thing already. That got me thinking about what other information a toaster could print on bread. A graph of the previous day's DJIA activity? Photo of your kids? The Red Sox score from last night?

There are constraints, of course. Bread is not exactly a high resolution medium. A course wheat bread would be difficult to print on while a dense rye might give you a couple dozen ppi to work with. But then you run into a contrast problem...toasted rye bread isn't much darker than untoasted rye bread. Now, if you were to use Pop Tarts, they're a little more high-res, a finer grained paper. You might even be able to print a few lines of text if the heating elements were precise enough...your stocks, meeting schedule for the day, top news stories, shopping list, the 5-day forecast, or a serial short story that you read over a few breakfasts (you could call them Breakfast Serials™!!). Or maybe toasters will be free in the future, with the toaster companies making their money from advertising printed on your morning toast, not unlike the free newspapers they hand out in the NYC subways.

Though what would be even better is wifi-enabled Alpha Bits. Just connect the box to your local network, pour yourself some cereal, and view the five most recent headlines from your RSS reader floating in your milk. Then right click your bowl to open up links on the screen in your refrigerator. That and a rocket-powered hoverbike, please.

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