Have you ever considered how your appliances feel when you don’t use them often? Of course you haven’t, because appliances can’t feel emotions. But Brad the toaster notices when you don’t use him – and runs away if you neglect him. Brad is the first product in the experimental Addicted Products from designer Simone Rebaudengo.
The Addicted Products project is a speculation about our interaction with objects and how that interaction will change as more household projects become “smart” and connected. Brad notices when you interact with it, keeping track of how often you use it to make toast. If you don’t use it often, it begs for attention by wiggling its sliding on/off button. Interact with Brad by petting it or using it to make toast and it stays happy.
Brad never has an owner; each toaster lives in a foster home for a period of time. It is connected to other Brads and keeps track of how often they are used. It feels peer pressure when other Brads are used more than it, and if you neglect it long enough it will decide to leave you for a more attentive host. As Wired points out, this kind of pestering for attention is already being used by software – programs bug you to update them, iPhone apps ask you to rate them, Amazon and eBay beg you to leave feedback after you make a purchase. It’s not that far fetched to believe that other smart objects in our homes will soon have the same ability to ask for attention.
When a Brad decides to leave a host home, a courier comes to pick it up and deliver it to another volunteer host. The new host doesn’t know a Brad is coming until it arrives at their door. The inventor says that Brad is a look into the future of home objects that are smart, connected, and able to anticipate their owners’ needs. He asks what the ultimate end would be if an appliance wasn’t receiving the attention it needed. Would it sell itself to a new household? Stop working? Or maybe self destruct?