The Internet of Coffee Machines

20 May 2015

Tristan Colgate

Tristan Colgate

Former Managing Director

A couple of years ago I moved from Wimbledon to the leafy suburban fringes of Richmond Park.  This was my wife’s idea and Mrs Colgate was insistent. Dutifully I went along with the plan but there was one issue that I could not ignore, and felt compelled to raise.  There was no Starbucks, indeed no coffee shop of any description, in the new area. 

This was unacceptable and actually a potential health and safety risk – would my heart stop beating if I failed to have my morning dose of caffeine?  Mrs C knows how to think outside the box, and from that box sprung a shiny new Siemens coffee machine that integrated beautifully into our kitchen and could deliver a double espresso that can match the quality of any high street coffee shop.  My problem was solved.

So began my relationship with my new coffee machine.  The honeymoon period was intoxicating, but already strains were starting to appear and I realised that she displayed passive aggressive tendencies.  Not capable of being plumbed in to the utilities, the water reservoir needed continual replenishment and the drip tray continual emptying.  These needs were presented to me as abrupt demands at the point of my requesting coffee – cruel, sadistic timing.   I remonstrated with her.  Could she not warn me in advance?  Perhaps even send a text message to my cleaner?  Did she not have an app for my smartphone and could that not warn me?  Unreasonable!

As time went on I learned to live with these demands.  After all, every relationship needs a little understanding, a little flexibility, and the demands were easy enough to fulfil.  I thought we had reached an understanding.

Then the threats started.  At first, I was informed the coffee supply was running low and I was expected to replenish it or face a denial of coffee.  I tried to reason with her – I am forgetful, I go to the shop and forget to buy coffee.  Could she not order the coffee for me?  I brought up the subject of the app – could it not remind me when I’m in the supermarket?  Perhaps she could team up with the supermarket and maybe even get me a special deal on the coffee?  I was sure she could be doing more, and felt that the relationship was completely lop-sided.

In a panic, I went back over our conjugal contract, the instruction manual.  There it mentioned an important water filter.  If it wasn’t changed, she’d get sick and I could get sick too!  Why hadn’t she mentioned this?  She refused to tell me when it needed to be changed and I was sure it was long overdue.  ‘This is your health.’, I pleaded, ‘How can I help you if you won’t tell me these things’.  Again, I was insistent that a smartphone app was the solution – she could use it to warn me that a new filter was needed and even order it for me direct from Siemens.  It could even remind me how to fit the filter when it arrived, perhaps with some nice easy diagrams or even videos.  If she was getting sick, it could even let Siemens know and they could send a doctor!

I’m not sure if she’s listening to me.  In fact, I think she’s trying to get my other appliances to gang up on me.  Now the washing machine is getting sick and part of the dishwasher fell off.  ‘They all need apps’ I whispered to her late the other evening.  ‘How many apps do you want on your phone?’ she asked, snorting indignantly that both the washing machine and dishwasher are Bosch so very unlikely to play ball with a Siemens app.

She can snort all she likes, I know I am right.  I’ll design a single smartphone app and a single platform – all the manufacturers will fall in line when they realise that by integrating to my platform they’ll be able to sell more services and products to loyal, yet feckless, customers, because it makes our lives easier.  I’ll show her.

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