Today its the Netatmo Weather Station. Now, I need to be careful here. I learned of this device from a recent John Lewis catalogue. However the punchline, as it were, in that publication was not to be found on the Netatmo website so it is John Lewis' interpretation that must hold our attention today.
The weather station is a metal tube stuffed with sensors that you stick out in your garden and it beams data back to your smartphone. Fine, nice for those who can't be arsed to look out of the window, but nothing to deride because collecting weather data has been a respectable scientific pursuit in this country for at least four hundred years. But the catalogue goes that extra mile to establish why every home should have one. It will let you know when it is raining, we are told, and then you know when to take the washing in.
Some people will put out the washing and remain at hand, able to respond as soon as the black clouds gather. Others will put it out and go elsewhere, to work or shopping or visiting, and therefore will be unable to return the moment a drop of moisture hits the detectors. (Yet others will be using tumble dryers and couldn't give a stuff what's going on outside but let us leave this privileged group to one side.) And it seems to me that the entire (non tumble dryer using) human race can be divided into those who can and those who cannot rush out to gather in the washing on demand. So what on earth is the point of your phone bleeping at you to tell it it is raining in your garden? Either you are already on site or the information is otiose.
Still, this opens the way for even better uses of IT (and can the wonder-phrase "Internet of Things" be far behind?) How about this from Ramblings of Ruislip - the PostoMatic. This clever device sits over your letterbox and scans each item delivered. It has X-ray technology to read inside envelopes. It can send directly to your phone a list of every letter, bill and flyer together with user-friendly recommendations:
- Postcard from Jill in Torquay - read it, stick it on the corkboard for a year then burn.
- Election address from UKIP - rubbish
- Monthly bill from Sparks and Mencers - hide it behind sofa for now and pay in three weeks if you've got any cash left.
You will wonder how you lived without the PostoMatic.
Amaze your friends by being able to tell them, merely by glancing at your phone, that the thud they've just heard is another leaflet from that Chinese takeaway that gave you a funny tummy last year.
Continue watching the racing in the comfort of your living room without in any way being disturbed by the newspaper that's just landed on your front door mat - your PostoMatic will read the lot and give you a ten point summary of the news.
Bothered when you are away on holiday about letters piling up behind your door that will block it when you return, sunburnt, hungover and lugging two heavy cases with that bargain crate of Limoncello you know you will never ever drink once back in cold England? Just set the PostoMatic to shred mode and there will simply be a bag of little white strips, perfect for cat litter.
Fed up with answering letters from your aunt in Reigate who still sends you a postal order for 7/6d every September even though your birthday is in March (and you're 43), for God's sake? Set the PostoMatic to autoreply mode and back to your devoted relative will go a simple but heartwarming missive
"Dear -insert name here
Thank you for the present. It was very nice. Love -insert your name here".
Miss the days when your dog would give the postman a close up view of his slathering jaws before ventilating his trousers? [The postman's trousers, not the dog's: Ed]. No problem for the PostoMatic in hostile mode - it will send 20,000 volts through anyone rash enough to touch your property without a permit.
Yes, the PostoMatic. Coming soon1. Only from Ramblings of Ruislip.
Not available in the shops, or by mail-order or by special appointment. Terms, conditions and even more terms apply, plus loads of extra conditions and several other terms we've just thought of. Your house, finances and sanity may be at risk. Offer limited to no more than 2,340 per household. Some more terms we found in a drawer that was stuck in the old filing cabinet in the corner but has now been freed also apply, but not on early-closing Wednesdays.
1. Fairly soon. Just as soon as we sort a few little bugs out. And someone writes the code, someone invents the x-ray scanner and the rest of the hardware and our lawyers clear it for sale.