Once upon a time there was a world that believed very strongly in magic. This world was full of witches, never ending porridge, stones that could turn water into soup and it was a place where iron was a force to be reckoned with.
It is possible that not everyone is familiar with the Brothers Grimm and their fairytales. Jacob and Wilhelm collected together German and Scandinavian tales that could be said to have been collected from hear-say and rumour. Whether these stemmed from true stories we may never know with certainty. However, they have definitely been the basis for many of the ones that a lot of people know and love from companies such as Disney whom have made them into feature length cartoons.
When thinking long and hard about these fairytales of yore passed on from generation to generation, I began to wonder what it would have been like had they tried to happen now or in the future with the various technology methods we have, and if money was no object, obviously. There are interesting similarities to how the Internet of Things could even apply, or at least the technology of all the things!
Where has my shoe gone?
Cinderella is a tale that has been retold under many guises, but the main premise is that of a young lady dashing off and most memorably leaving a shoe behind while attempting to court a Prince. This is a great opportunity for engineering!
So we have an object that needs to fit a particular person, but the main issue we have here is that the two are seperated! This feels like an easy one to solve. Let us assume that each of the shoes are a high-heeled stiletto with a platform. We now have more room to play with, insert some circuitry and perhaps use the heel as an antenna and we can now work with some method of geolocation. To help with the imagery, perhaps it is an awesome pair with LEDs (being a 'glass' slipper/shoe) or something from Cyberdog. One of the shoes could connect to a local basestation, perhaps WiFi or just a radio antenna that is lower powere (perhaps 868Mhz? that feels popular at the moment) and it can help a Prince to narrow down its location with the shoe in hand.
How would he link the two together again? Perhaps there's an online database which he can login to, where the shoes are registered on their initial setup, or contact the person whom made the shoes and keeps track of them when they report in (let's overlook the fact of the ability to track a persons every move in this, shall we?) This would help him to narrow down the search of the city and find his fair maiden!
Truthfully though, I have walked, drove and rode through cities to discover discarded, dropped or lost shoes lying in the street, surprisingly. So I imagine this would actually help some people to be reunited with them.
Nom, nom, nom, tasty porridge
I like this tale, "Sweet Porridge" or "The Magic Porridge Pot" - the premise is a simple one where by a little girl is given a magic bowl or pot which produces food when asked: "cook, little pot, cook" and stops when asked "stop, little pot". Of course it all goes to bedlam when the pot is asked to cook and it does not stop at all and promptly floods the place - oh joy! food forever!
Oh joy! another problem to solve! This one is easy, possibly. One could merely have a sensor at the top of the pot which detects if it is about to come into contact with the food - let us say that it is porridge! awesome then all we need is a liquid or humidity sensor (the ones I have used, return to 0 when in contact with actual liquid, so it could be used as a cut-off).
When the sensor is hit by the porridge then it could notify the owner that it has been left unattended and it should be seen to, immediately! (a lazy solution could be to have speakers and a pre-recorded message telling it to stop, but where is the fun in that? maybe we do not want it to). Perhaps the owner has a mobile phone, a smart phone these days could be used to monitor a webcam pointed at the pot or bowl and a microphone can help the owner to tell it to "stop, little pot". Ah the wonders of media over the internet and everlasting food.
Just add, a little salt, and turn up the heat!
I enjoy dabbling with cooking. Especially when I made the chilli, caffeinated, kendal mint cake which went down a treat at the Open Source Hardware Camp in Hebden Bridge a few years back (I did not personally attend, but a number of people from Leeds Hackspace did with my goods). So the story of the little rock used to help make soup helps remind me of the creativity that goes into cooking.
There are a few variants of this story, the one I remember is that a begger goes into the kitchen of a castle and is attempting to get food. The cook, being busy and stressed over the lack of food for the owner of the establishment, or simply wanting to give nothing more than water to the begger, tries to make him leave. After a bit of social engineering though, using the rock as a base, a soup develops.
What could be wonderous, though, about the rock ? This got me thinking ... and this one is a bit far fetched so you'll have to use your imagination. Aha.
The rock is porous in my mind and inside it lies the sensors that can read the parts per million of particles within the liquid. Being porous and within a boiling liquid means that it is jostled sufficiently that it can tell what is in the fluid. So as vegetables, salts and peppers are added to the mixture it can work out if sufficient quantities (approximately) have been added to make the ideal soup.
Hang on, the rock is just a dead weight - where are we getting information from it here? Where is the internet of things to this ? Obviously the device is wireless, in fact perhaps it could draw energy from the heat as well so it's an entirely self contained device. There is also no reason then, why it could not connect to the internet to tell the begger, or indeed anyone that is not watching the soup cook that it needs alterations and to adjust accordingly by remote. Mmmm, tasty, tasty soup.
So what whimsical notion do you have? Could you mark your way with breadcrumbs and follow the trial on Google Maps? Or develop a wolf detector to protect your grandma? Let me know!