I don't know what it is about internet-enabled fridges. It's been such a long time we've been promised smart touch screens combined with keeping food cold. How have we coped? I had to take matters into my own hands. My plan started early. I decided an electronic-ink display would be ideal, as it could sit there consuming very little power until it needed to update itself. There's too many glowing things in the house already. At the time I didn't have any such display, but I was tantalisingly close to acquiring enough points as a trend-spotter for Springwise to get a free basic Kindle. It turns out in a busy city like London by the time you spot a trend it has usually been and gone, but I managed to get there (thanks Springspotters!) and had my display. Now - what to show on it? Clearly the ability to order the food that you're running out of is far too obvious. Besides, we have a perfectly good notepad and pencil already attached that is more than capable of holding pages and pages of requests for ice cream, Nutella, biscuits, more Nutella. However it takes us a laborious two or three clicks to check the weather forecast. So, as a starting point, we'd have the next 24 hours of weather right there. On the fridge. A great combination of keeping food cold and hearing how cold it is outside.
Meanwhile I had a brainwave (that usually means I had a stupid idea but didn't yet realise it). Instead of showing separate cloud/sun/rain icons for each hour in a 24h forecast, I would create a single landscape. The sun is always there up in the sky, just sometimes there are clouds below it. If it is cloudy for 3 hours in a row that can be one long cloud. It kind of works. I turned the temperature into hills, which breaks the metaphor (especially as the higher hills are higher temperature - but on mountains it is colder!). That's the part where I realised maybe it is a stupid idea after all
The actual weather data is from forecast.io, and the display now includes last 30 days cycling and running distances from Strava and Map My Run, along with my fastest 5K time so far from the fantastic Park Run. There's plenty of room on the display for more to come.
The most surprising finding of this project is that, despite it still being unusual to have a live dashboard magnetically attached to your fridge, very few people ever notice it. It is a very calm technology.