March 10, 2009 For the uninitiated, Twitter is a "microblogging" service that invites you to share what you're doing with the world in 140 characters or less - and it's currently taking the world by storm, with everyone from Scoble to Shaq on board. Its charm is that its usefulness is entirely open to interpretation - while many just don't get it (including Google's CEO), some use it purely for self-promotion, others to connect with their peers, others to tap breaking news long before mainstream media covers it, and then there's the subset of users that like to build or hack devices to use its API. Read on to meet six devices (of varying usefulness) that use Twitter to communicate with their human overlords.
Tweet-a-Watt: The Kill-a-Watt mod that broadcasts your power consumption
We wrote about the nifty Kill-a-Watt back in July last year, but Phillip Torrone and co from Make Magazine have made it even niftier by tweeting the current draw of connected devices and the Kilowatt-hours used in the last 24 hours. If you want to make a device like this yourself, check out Ladyada.net.
Botanicalls: plant water sensor that tells you when your plant needs a drink
It'll also thank you when you water it, and even scold you for overwatering. Find out where to get one at Botanicalls, but be warned - the US$99 device only comes in kit form and requires assembly.
Laundryroom: A laundry room at Olin College that tells you how many washers/dryers are free
Apparently, Roland Crosby built Laundryroom as commentary on the devices that people connect to Twitter, but with 77 followers, there's obviously more than a few people at Olin College who find it useful.
TwiVo: A TiVo that tells you when it's finished recording
Waiting to get home and check your TiVo for recordings is soo last year - Darren Cloutier wrote a PHP script that logs in to the web server present on each of his TiVo devices and sends him a tweet whenever something new has been recorded. Personally, I'd be a little embarassed to have my TiVo tell the world I'd just finished recording Dr Phil.
(via Zats Not Funny)
A washing machine that tells you when it's finished
Sick of forgetting about that load of washing you put on in the morning and ending up with shirts and towels with that awful mildew smell? You could always do what Ryan Rose did and modify your washing machine to send you a tweet when it's finished.
A robot that makes and delivers popcorn, that takes orders via Twitter
RoBe:Do makes two autonomous robots that arrive fully assembled and ready to accommodate a netbook brain. This impressive implementation allows you to send an order for fresh popcorn via Twitter and have it delivered to the couch. (Nice, but if the RoBe:Do came pre-programmed with the ability to get a beer out of the fridge, I'd buy one right now.)
Tim Hanlon (Follow Tim on Twitter)