I was talking to my sister the other day and she said she wishes she had a flat panel TV on the wall of her home that is dedicated to displaying the family calendar. Oddly enough, as sibling coincidences go, I have been lusting after that very thing. Here's a view from my desk chair. (I started work at 3 am today so the room looks a bit dark.)

In the picture you see a wall that I have kept undecorated while I fantasize that someday my calendar and to-do list will appear on some sort of display there. I was imagining a ceiling mounted projector system, but with current technology that has some tradeoffs such as noise, heat, and a bad image in daylight. I'm waiting for technology to offer a cleaner solution.

You might ask why I don't use the TV in my office as the calendar. That would almost work, except I use the TV as a TV while I draw, and switching back and forth would be just enough of a pain in the ass that I might as well use my computer monitor.

Anyway, this made me wish that Apple and Samsung would create a "Calendar TV" for the kitchen. Let me spec it out a bit here.

Imagine a flat panel TV (like a big iPad) that has touch screen capability and a primary purpose of displaying your family calendar and your family to-do list, including shopping list. Every family member has a smartphone app that syncs their own calendars to the family calendar. The Calendar TV would hang face-high so you could also easily type directly onto the touch screen. If you open the fridge and see you need milk, just enter it into the Calendar TV and it goes to the family's common shopping list.

That's the basic function of the product. Future versions might include some of this:

1.     Calendar senses whose smartphone is in the room and only displays the information that person cares about. If two or more people are in the room it defaults to the full family calendar.

2.     Stream TV shows.

3.     Stream video security picture that pops up instead of the calendar when there is motion near the front door, or  wherever cameras are focused.

4.     Stream baby monitor pictures.

5.     Stream family photos.

6.     Track family members by GPS and display on a map, so you know when Dad is coming home. (Parents would be able to turn that function off for their own phones if needed.)

7.     Weather.

8.     Streaming music. (Wireless speakers as an option.)

9.     Bar code scanner so you can wave the empty milk carton in front of the TV and it gets added to the shopping list.

The Calendar TV's default function would be the family calendar, and it should never be more than one button away for the user. You want sub-second switching to the calendar from any other function. That's what makes this product a Calendar TV and not a general Smart TV. If you're streaming a TV show and want to see the calendar, one command pauses the show and switches.

Your phone app would be able to control all of the switching among functions, volume, etc. Or you could do the same switching on the TV's touch screen.

There's a psychological component to this product. If I tell you it is a Calendar TV, you might say you want one for your kitchen, perhaps mounted on the fridge door. Any features beyond the calendar are just icing. But if I say I have a so-called "smart TV" for you, and it does a thousand cool things, you probably say you haven't felt the need for any of it. This might be one of those less-is-more situations. Forget about the battle for the living room TV and focus on the kitchen. The kitchen is the brain of the house.

Would you buy a Calendar TV for $500?

Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +57
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0 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 22, 2013
I think the best solution for this would be a backlit E-ink display. That way the display could be very low power and thin, updating only when information changed. It would be an easier sell as an information hub that way. I also think that it could be connected to a low-power computer like a Raspberry Pi running a web interface to Google Calendar. Throw in some usb gesture control like Xbox has and it could easily sense people in the room or that someone is looking at it. Apples new iBeacon tech means that displays like this could "know" that a specific user is near the display as you described.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 20, 2013
I remember when i was a kid, we had a notepad on the fridge with a pencil hanging off it. Somehow we managed to make it in to the future.
Oct 6, 2013
I responded to some Microsoft request for ideas with this exact idea about ten years ago. I think they were doing a survey on home entertainment systems. I said I didn't care about home entertainment systems. I wanted a large, shared flatscreen calendar in my living room or kitchen that would allow me to plan my families activities and coordinate with others. I want the ability to share part of my calendar with people outside my family - to help coordinate plans - just like at work.

I told them that such a calendar is the true way to own the American living room.

They clearly took my suggestion to heart - and got right on it.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 6, 2013
Nothing new there. An iPad mounted in the fridge door would give the calendar, shopping list, streaming cooking shows (for those that want to try something new), and coupled with a bar code scanner you could use it to maintain both a diet and an inventory of canned and boxed goods. Bring the cost down a little as I don't want the kids playing Infinity Blade on the fridge door. Maybe the equivalent of a kindle fire that networks with multiple phones. So really it is the program and interface. Kitchen cloud/home cloud and if you coupled this with networked climate controls, door locks, lighting, and the security system and you could pretty much take care of everything remotely if need be.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 5, 2013
only works if you are at home. Most of us don't work from home. Home is more like Grand Central Station, than mission control. Sorry Scott, iCal is better.
Oct 5, 2013
IMHO the best place for a family calendar is the refrigerator. Fridge manufacturers have been dreaming of an Internet-connected fridge for years, I have no idea why they haven't thought of this yet. An Android-based touch screen should be embedded in the front door of a fridge and the main (only?) app on it should be Google Calendar or something similar. Google Calendar makes it trivial to share calendars between family members.

An alternative product could be a think light, tabled-like device costing under $100, with magnets on the back and with solar cells so it never has to be charged. It could be placed on the fridge (thanks to the magnets).

I would not by a TV with such function, I haven't had a TV for years. But I would definitely buy a calendar device for a fridge, or if I was buying a new fridge, I would buy one with a built-in family calendar.
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 4, 2013
Are you serious? This is getting a little weird.

Would I buy it? NO! I have a paper calender for about $5 that displays nice new pictures every month for all appointments, a little wipeable notice board for the groceries and my memory. All of that without electricity.
Oct 4, 2013
My aunt built a new room addition with big wall space where she should have put a window. The only thing preventing her from installing one now is the construction hassle/dust.

But I thought this would be a good alternative: Hang one of those new 56" 4K OLED screens (3D if possible) connected to two cameras on the opposite side of the wall.

It would look just like a window, with the added advantage that she could "rewind" the view to see when a package was delivered, for example. Since she's very old, I thought an extremely simple user interface would be necessary. Maybe two words on the lower part of the frame, "Past" and "Present". Then as she touched the timeline, the view would rewind faster and faster the farther she went to the left.

Now for the evil part. The frame wouldn't say "Future", but if she happened to wander to the right, the view would look pretty normal for a while, but eventually the sky would darken and there'd be flashes, then mushroom clouds in the distance. Later UFOs would land and start smashing neighborhood houses, then bigger UFOs would arrive and actually pick up some houses, including hers. A giant claw would partially obscure her view as she's whisked out of Earth's atmosphere.

Narrowly missing a couple asteroids, she's brought to a mother ship orbiting Jupiter. Docking at the ship, she sees the the devil-like creatures in charge.

Just in the nick of time, however, Jesus smashes superman-style through the ceiling of the mothership and starts battling the demons. And that's probably all her heart could take.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 4, 2013
Hey. You and I have the same thermostat! Well, we did until whilst attempting to change the batteries it slipped out of my hand and smashed its touch screen to bits on my swanky Brazilian cherry floor (probably actually some sort of compressed pine made in China). Anyway, I've fixed my own laptop, wiped viruses off computers, did brake jobs on both our cars myself, have done plumbing, electrical, on it goes...but I never had the patience to figure that damn thermostat out! Wife couldn't either. So now we have a more, ahem, rational model. How's the monkeying with yours going?
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 4, 2013
My wife would want it. It's her of thing.
Oct 4, 2013
The kicker with this is to get the kids to actually use the damn thing.

"You have WHAT tonight? Why didn't you say something? Why isn't it in the calendar??"


Repeat 100 times a month.
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 4, 2013
Raskolnikov: Wikipedia will give you the densities of air (about 1,2), Helium (0,1786) and hydrogen (0,09) Kg/m^3. Or g per litre.
Subtract the hydrogen density from the air density and you have the carrying capacity of one liter (about a quart) of the hydrogen.

Air ships were B I G.
Oct 4, 2013
After cornering the kitchen market, you could expand to other areas of the house.

For example, ever since the launch of the dot.com darling, WebTV, I have thought that a much more useful device would be WebBM. Simply a wall mounted flat screen across from the toilet. No more bringing magazines or newspapers to the john. No more reading your iPhone and accidently dropping it in the toilet. WebBM would display magazine and newspaper content as well as stream music and live TV (better sound masking than a fan). There would be nothing to touch - WebBM would be controlled entirely with hand motions. I figure it could sell at a $300 to $400 price point. Any takers?
Oct 4, 2013
Oh, I guess "smart watch" contains the word "t w a t"
Oct 4, 2013
How many gallons of hydrogen if the payload is a !$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%
Oct 4, 2013
Forget the zeppelin, just add all that functionality to a Roomba, so it can clean your house when you aren't using it.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 4, 2013
Great idea, but why negotiate when several zeppelins are in the room?
Each zeppelin shows the calendar of its owner, right?
There's plenty of area on your zeppelin. If it's filled with helium and (I'm very optimistic here) weights 500g including the phone, we're talking about 130 gallons of volume.

Still, I like it! :-)
Oct 4, 2013
Great concept, but my specs would be little different. I walk around the house a lot, and also like hanging out in my tighty whiteys. I'm constantly going "Where did I leave my smartphone?" And if I try to keep it in the elastic, it invariably falls out a leg hole. Not good.

So my solution is a rectangular mini-zeppelin which, when I walk into the house, would be used to dock my phone in its mini-gondola. It would follow me around as I shed my clothes and would update me on family matters through a speaker and a laser projector that would shine onto the interior of its largest flat surface. When another family member's zeppelin was approaching, mine could warn me to cover up. When two zeppelins were in the same room, they could negotiate calendar items with help from the software.

As the family arrived at the dinner table, all the zeppelins would merge and attach at the edges with electromagnets, creating a floating big-screen against the far wall. This would display the family calendar. Any agreed changes to the calendar would be added using speech-to-text. The big screen might notice the milk just ran out and ask if you wanted more. It would listen to the conversation about the weekend party and make up a grocery list.

In the morning, my zeppelin would follow me to the door and remind me to take my (fully charged) phone along, so I'd never forget it. It would remind me to put on pants, too.

+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 4, 2013
jeffw_00: I've been thinking about how many offices (Doctors, haircut place, etc) still use a big paper book for appointments.

I've just asked someone who opened his office (physio therapy) this week. Simple answer: Safety.
There are a thousand things more that can go wrong with any electronic gizmo, starting with dropping it, bugs, viruses, trojans or, in case of cloud services, Microsoft/Amazon/Apple/Google suddenly deciding that you have violated their terms and conditions and cutting you off without warning, giving reasons or a chance to talk things over.

A paper book just lies there, has no value for a thief, cannot be used to send spam or attack other users, is easily usable by everybody who has finished school and it takes police and an order by a judge to take it away.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 4, 2013
How about I build one for you ? You don't have to pay me till I ship it to you. I don't need the money, but I need a commitment from you. Here's the basics.

1. A small touch screen (18"-21") computer,running Windows 8.
2. Will display the calendar and your to-do lists.
3. Depending on the calendar and to-do services you use, you will have the same information on all your devices.

How does this sound ?

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