Could This Idiotic Product Help “The Internet Of Things” Go Mainstream?

Egg Minder might be dumb product design, but as a piece of mass communication about web-connected products, it just might be genius.


Pop quiz: how many eggs are in your refrigerator right now? For most of us, there are three possible answers:

  1. Enough.
  2. Who cares.
  3. I don’t know, let me open the fridge and check.

But if you crave the ability to know, urgently, specifically, and numerically, how many eggs are in your fridge at any given moment, Egg Minder–a new product from crowdsourced-gadget emporium Quirky–has you covered. It’s a special-purpose Internet-connected egg tray that links to a smartphone app that will tell you, with pinpoint accuracy, how many eggs are in the tray. From anywhere in the world!

Egg Minder is dumb, and you don’t need it. (How dumb? To quote Quirky’s own product evaluation video, “it’s a pain in the ass,” “superfluous,” “really silly,” and “the height of laziness.”)

So why did it get made–especially in a high-profile partnership with GE? Who knows, but GE does have an interest in making “the Internet of things” as mainstream as possible. But so far, the Internet of things (or IoT) is a difficult concept to sell–it’s confined mainly to fringe hacker/maker gizmos like Twine, or promotional experiments like Berg’s Twitter-powered cuckoo clock. I’d bet your mom has never heard of it, and that you’d have a tough time explaining it to her.

Enter Egg Minder. It’s cheap, it’s simple, and it’s the best “Internet of things” explainer I’ve seen yet. As an actual product with actual utility, it’s a reach at best. But as communication–a way of making the IoT instantly understandable and approachable for almost anyone–Egg Minder is great design. That might be why GE is throwing its weight behind it. As Quartz noted, “Egg Minder has the potential to help normalize the notion that pretty soon just about everything we own will have some degree of self-awareness.” A fridge full of “self aware stuff” sounds weird and/or creepy, but Egg Minder itself seems cute, familiar, and superficially intriguing. GE could probably give two farts about how many Egg Minders it actually sells–but if Egg Minder helps sell the idea of the Internet of things to you, me, and everyone we know, it’s a solid investment.

[hat tip: Quartz]

About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets