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.