An ingenious British student may have prevented the oft-cited Internet Toaster going the same way as the Flying Car.
Robin Southgate, a final year Industrial Design student at Brunel University has designed a unit that grabs the weather forecast, and burns it onto a piece of bread. Mark One doesn't reproduce the full glory of weather maps - such as isobars and cold fronts - on your toast just yet, and instead displays an appropriate symbol: a cloud, sun or raindrop. But it's seamless and doesn't take any longer than a regular, or dare we say 'legacy' toaster.
The unit makes use of an embedded Java device from Dallas Semiconductors called TINI, Robin tell us, with the imaging being performed by dropping a heat resistant PTFE mask in front of the heating elements about 30 seconds before it's due to pop up. He taught himself Java to produce the device, which contributes to his final year project.
A high resolution version using an element matrix version was ruled out only because it would draw more than 13 amps, more than a domestic plug can handle. However a different choice of parts could make this feasible.
"Using a matrix we can get a display resolution of 11 by 11, which would give us a few isobars, or the temperature - there's enough room for four readable characters," says Robin. The toaster dials a freephone number, which uses a cached weather forecast. Any bread* will do he says.
We'll post a picture as soon as we have one. Robin says it sports a pulsating LED light, much like Apple's Cube when in sleep mode. The toaster will be exhibited along with other design treats at Brunel's degree show at the Runnymeade campus in Surrey, beginning on June 11th.
It also alas, probably closes the door on the last advertising free zone we know. If bread is the new display device, it won't be too long before it becomes the latest billboard.®
*Alfaros Six Grain Sweet with Marmite in our case. None of your Sourdough rubbish here, please.