Do I Really Need This?

Gemma was ribbing me last night over this story in Metro. Essentially researchers as Microsoft Cambridge have come up with a machine that can receive text messages and print them onto clear labels so you can stick them on a calendar (as per the photo - it's meant to be used "in the modern home"). Clearly that's a production ready model signed off by the same person that designed the Zune. (Actually I quite like Zune in a chunky kind of way but it's not quite on a par with the competition - especially I suspect in the eyes of its target market). So expect a bare PCB and a great roll of sticky paper on a wall near you anytime soon.

Do I really need it? No, but I quite like it. What I don't need is the ribbing from my (soon to be) wife about all these "crazy Microsoft ideas". Can you really innovate without crazy ideas? Doesn't every true innovation start as a crazy idea?

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Comments (3)

  1. Matt says:

    I already have a digital gizmo for doing this – it’s called a ‘pencil’.

    0.1% of the environmental impact of any electronic gizmo to boot.

  2. MikeO [MSFT] says:

    🙂 Very true and environmental impact is a key issue (listening to a recent discussion about how much extra power digital radios consume vs analogue was an eye opener for me). But my point was more that, while on the surface this isn’t that useful, could it be just the tip of an iceberg? In dismissing it as not very useful right now, might I be stifling an idea that could in time revolutionise the world? Sure, I can’t see how right now but that might be more about me than the idea.

  3. Simon says:

    Wish I had access to the time to develop new things rather than boring business software…

    Why don’t you show your wife a gizmo that improves a process she goes through, that should help:

    Say an automatic plant watering/feeding device (if you guys don’t have one it’s a couple of days or so to knock one up on the electronics/firmware side).

    A device that lets her scan the barcodes of products in the fridge and collates what’s on the shopping list and works out when’s the (approximate) time you’ll need to buy another (obviously has to learn based on absences from the fridge).  Eventually it’ll prevent you forgetting to buy something!  Hell link it to and buy things with a simple confirmation you DO want that item delivered.

    How about the old favourite of a tea/cofee making machine.  With sms support so you can text that you are on the drive and have a drink ready for when you walk in the kitchen?

    Or an addon to the dvr/MCE that sends a reminder text to her phone that a particular tv program she likes has been recorded and is ready to watch.

    Robot vacuum cleaners are a great idea, how about one that empties itself and the bin too?

    Automated parcel signing-for system.  The postman turns up, sees he’s expected and gets instructions of what to do to deliver the item in a secure box (we’ll call is a Large Post-Box) and can print out a receipt if the device is happy it got its delivery.  Combine with barcode support on the box and a webcam if needed!

    How about a system that phones you and reads out when there’s been interesting news detected based on a keyword (“MSFT shares fell/rose 0.4”, “terrorist alert in <place>”).

    Or a GPS that routes around traffic, no wait that’s too popular now 😉

    Or a mobile phone that runs windows and lets you pick up e-mail anywhere… wait, same.

    There’s millions of things that might help.  I’m not sure why you’d want to print out text messages and stick them to a calendar though – why not just display them?  Surely it’s going a little backwards.

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