Tweeting Toaster Has More Followers Than You

Expect more gadgets to join the social network in the years to come

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Hans Scharler

A tweeting toaster powered by ioBridge technology.

Having trouble gaining a social media following? Maybe ask this appliance for tips.

A man in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has rigged his toaster to tweet “Toasting” or “Done Toasting” with each use, and — despite the account’s lack of variety — has gained more than 2,000 followers.

How does it work?

The toaster’s owner, Hans Scharler, glued a switch to the appliance’s side that is flipped every time the slide goes up or down. The switch is then hooked up to an ioBridge module, a gadget meant to help developers connect their creations to the web. Scharler is the co-counder of ioBridge, and his technology has already been included in products like an iPhone-controller pet feeder and a pool control system that updates you on its status through an app.

While one might think the toaster’s novelty would eventually wear off, that doesn’t (yet) appear to be the case.  @mytoaster has been around since December of 2008, and with 648 total tweets, it’s still going strong. As of press time, the toaster’s latest tweet has 22 retweets and 4 favorites.

In fact, its laconic style might be this machine’s secret to popularity. @TweetingToaster, a novelty account run by a foul-mouthed appliance that speaks in full sentences, has only 210 followers and appears to have gradually died off.

@mytoaster may seem strange, but in reality it’s just another example in a widening group of household objects that use social media to make our lives easier. In addition to @mytoaster, there’s a plant that tweets when it needs to be watered and a laundry machine that tweets whenever a load is finished. It’s this concept of an inanimate object giving updates on its activities that interested @mytoaster’s inventor.

“When I first heard about Twitter, I immediately thought about how things would be a part of my feed just like my friends,” says Scharler. “For example, my lights report their light levels along with status messages like, ‘You left your lights on’ or ‘Someone is in your room.'”

In order to further connect us with our possessions, Scharler and his friend Jason Winters created a platform for developers called ThingSpeak — a sort of Twitter for things — that lets objects send messages, broadcast their location, graph their temperature, and more.

Want to make your own appliances into social media mavens? Scharler has a blog post documenting his construction process. The cheapest ioBridge goes for $69, so consider that before you get your heart set on the idea. However, if you do choose to empower your possessions, you could have a pretty futuristic kitchen on your hands.