What has technology wrought? For some, a washing machine that 'communicates' with its owners. Sam Solitaire (shown here) is presently using his PC to 'talk' to the equipment in his laundry room. Sam is participating in a trial of a system launched by the Internet Home Alliance, a system that provides washers and dryers that link wirelessly to home networks (cell phones, PCs, even TV sets).
Sam not only likes to be able to keep track of his wash and give commands at every moment, he just enjoys contact with the machines. He lives alone and has few friends. "To tell you the truth," he confesses, "it's kind of a nice change to get a few phone calls or e-mails. I appreciate the 'company.'" He finds that now he does his laundry more often, knowing it will mean that he will get a few phone calls at night.
But not all users are impressed. Betty Busy says she has no need to be constantly updated on the status of her dirty clothes. "I'd rather forget about them," she confides. Explaining why she is currently on crutches, she explained that last night the phone rang and she rushed to pick it up, thinking it was her boyfriend. On the way, she tripped and sprained her ankle. Now the bad news. It wasn't her boyfriend at all, but her washing machine calling to remind her to remove her clothes and put them in the dryer. "Now isn't that a kick in the head?" she asked.
Celia Complainer's story is even worse. She made a mistake in programming her machines so that they call not once, but ten times, to say the job is completed! "The constant calls, it's really annoying," she reports. "If they were human, I'd sue them for harassment or get a restraining order or something."
And finally, Ben the Bachelor is another naysayer in regard to the experiment. He thought the machines would do everything from start to finish -- sort the dirty clothes, then wash, dry, and fold them. But he soon found out that this isn't exactly the case. They just tell HIM when to do what. In his own words, "It's just yakkety, yakkety, yak, with all sorts of messages telling ME to do this, do that. Who needs it? If I wanted that, I'd get a wife."