Sunday, March 08, 2015

Greg's Alarm Clock

Back at EuroOSCON in 2006, I gave a talk on commoditisation covering the Web of Things (what a group of us used to call the Internet of Things before IoT took over) and 3D printing. In that talk, I discussed Greg's Alarm Clock created by Greg McCarroll (who has since sadly passed away).

Greg's clock was in my opinion one of the first really useful and smart devices.

The alarm clock which consisted of a mix of lego and other components was just a prototype concept. It did one very simple thing. Before waking you up, it checked a web service with the local train station to determine if your train was delayed or cancelled. If the train was, then the clock reset itself to get you up in time for your next train. If it calculated you were going to be late for work, it sent an email to work informing them on your behalf.

All this happened whilst you were sleeping. 

This is how 'smart' things should work. I don't find much use in switching on my washing machine with a phone app. I prefer devices that understand the context, the environment and can operate on my behalf, a subject I covered in a previous talk called 'Any Given Tuesday'. 

I don't want my future devices littered with a sprawl of apps to control lighting, heating and the temperature of my fridge. I want my devices to ask the questions and take care of the details.