iFridge

Feb 12, 2010 02:29 · 613 words · 3 minute read

When the Apple iPad finally gets released in the UK, I’m going to buy two of them.

The first one is going to get used for iPaddy-type stuff, whatever that turns out to be. It’ll be for browsing, and playing games, and reading ebooks and whatever else comes its way. I’ll probably use that as the device that I have a go at writing apps for.

The second one is going to get velcroed to the fridge door.

Insofar as our family has a central, physical point, it’s the fridge. That’s where the letters from school about trips get magnetted to; it’s where the shopping list lives; it’s where the kids write rude messages to each other with the word magnets; and it’s where the family calendar (if we’d got around to replacing it this year) would be.

The problem is that I can’t get to the fridge when I’m out of the house, and I can’t sync it to a device that I can carry around with me. And writing down that we need more baked beans is only half-way to solving the lack-of-baked-beans problem - surely it would be more efficient if I could drop more beans into the shopping basket as soon as I’ve opened the last tin?

I’ve toyed with the idea of sticking a cheap netbook to my fridge - but that would be awkward to operate because whichever flavour of Linux it would run, it would still be keyboard-and-mouse driven. The iPad format changes that, because it’s designed for touchscreen operation from the ground up.

It’s an expensive option, for sure - although given that people seem to see the need for flat-screen TVs that fold underneath fitted cupboards, I’m not sure it’s an extravagant one.

_[Incidentally, i[![LG_product](http://www.adoptioncurve.net/archives/2010/02/ifridge.php/lg_product)f you want an illustration of everything that’s wrong with the marketing of consumer electronics and white goods, try punching the product name - LG GRD-267DTU - of this LG fridge into their website.  Utter, utter fail.]_

Initially, I can see a whole series of uses based around the “standard” apps. It’ll be the access point for shared Google calendars; notes that would otherwise get scribbled onto post-its; and quick access to things like when the next bus from the stop up the road is due.

But beyond that, it’s easy to see apps becoming “localised” to the kitchen environment. Ocado already have an iPhone app, so having an iPad version should be a no-brainer. Hook the iPad up to a barcode reader - or use the front-facing camera that’s supposed to be along in the next iteration - and you could swipe the tin of beans as it comes out of the cupboard and have it added to the shopping list automatically. Could Ocado take things one step further, and book a delivery slot based on when my Google calendar says we’ll be around to receive the delivery?

This touches on one of the reasons why I think much of the disappointment around the iPad was misplaced. It’s the first iteration of something. The first iteration of the iPhone was basic in the extreme compared to where it is now - no 3rd-party apps, no GPS, no cut-and-paste and so on. But it was the catalyst for an ecosystem of applications which have completely changed the perception of the device. I doubt anyone would have considered how the augmented reality uses would have panned out back in 2007. What gives the iPad - and the other devices that must surely follow it - such potential, is the way in which it’s going to be able break out of what we consider to be the “natural” applications for computing devices.