A Toaster That Burns The Morning News Onto Bread

What’s going on in the world? Just look at your breakfast.

It’s commonplace to read a newspaper (or a smartphone) with breakfast. Chewing doesn’t require our full attention, after all, and all sorts of things were happening while we slept. But is there a more elegant way to combine our news and breakfast than dual wielding?

The Image Toaster is a project by Scott van Haastrecht that combines your news with your breakfast. It’s a Wi-Fi-connected appliance that scours the web for a popular photo of the day, then burns this image into your bread.

Now, that image is rendered fairly low resolution. A filter converts complex pictures into a small grid of black and white pixels. These binary commands fire off to the toaster itself, which uses servos to adjust a correlating grid of burners into on/off positions. So in its current form, the Image Toaster is more of an art project than a feasible alternative for news consumption.

Even still, the toaster is a fascinating case study on how to inject more information into the natural world around us. In this clip, we see the simplest of variations: a heart, conveying Valentine’s Day. But there’s no reason why something similar couldn’t, maybe upon measuring your blood sugar, print Xs and Os on the pieces you should or shouldn’t eat. More abstract data possibilities might work even better--like a general density map might signal how many @ tweets came your way in the night, or which parts of your day will be loaded with meetings.

The possibilities are endless, so please don’t admit, just yet, that most of us would probably settle for a crispy print of the latest Garfield.

See more here.

[Hat tip: Creative Applications]

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10 Comments

  • Steve

    The worst idea in the world ever. What people want is evenly cooked toast. Too much to ask?

  • Mike Macfadden

    If the resolution improved, you could print/burn QR or bar codes into the toast and link to hot news stories or anything for that matter (like daily deals - Groupon's about to catch its second wind).

  • kelvinhanratty

    You'll often be let down by the 'news' or image it related to! I think this could be a good idea, if they incorporated a puzzle that you had to solve ...

  • roogle

    How does a product that burns a pixelized image onto a piece of bread (by "scouring the web for a popular photo of the day") get turned into an article about "a toaster that burns that morning news onto bread?"
    Unless of course, we consider a random (albeit popular) photo of the day to be considered the morning news?

  • Al

    It's not even that, it's a 6 by 6 grid of blobs - the one at the top of the page is supposed to be a clipart heart image. There's no chance it could make anything like a photograph.

    Which is fine, because it's clearly a fun/silly DIY student project, not a serious endeavour. 

    So why do FastCo hype it up pretending it's something it isn't? If they'd billed it accurately - "this doesn't do anything useful yet, but it's a fun, silly, original and ingenious idea " (true) rather than "It actually burns the news onto your toast!" (lie) - it'd be a worthwhile article.