Hi-tech toaster that keeps a weather eye on the dayâ¿™s forecast

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The Independent Online

Too rushed to look out of the window while you're making breakfast? Then the Java toaster is for you: today's weather forecast, burnt into your toast ­ sunny, cloudy or rainy.

Developed by Robin Southgate, a product design graduate of Brunel University, the toaster dials a freephone number to get the weather forecast when you slot your bread in, and then burns the result into your bread while you wait. And you don't even have to turn on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I made it because I like the idea of things like internet-enabled fridges. But whenever you see them, they're just the normal thing with a PC bolted to the side," said Mr Southgate.

By contrast, his Java toaster uses a £10 chip that is able to interpret the weather forecast from an internet server and burn that into the bread. He said: "White is best, you get a better contrast."

Though a number of companies have expressed interest in the concept, none has so far taken it any further ­ in part because the toaster only uses a simple stencil to create its indelible predictions. "The weather server only produces a choice of three forecasts, so there are only three stencils," he said. But future versions may use micro-controllers to produce more detailed maps or images. "We've produced a version which can generate a nine by nine matrix image, which is good enough for a company logo, though not text," said Mr Southgate.

However, he has not lost hope that one day you may be able to get an up-to-the-minute weather map. "It was always going to be expensive to develop the prototype. The idea is that you could get it to burn an advert into one side, so you could subsidise the cost," he said.