A household full of smart, connected appliances could have benefits beyond waking up in a toasty warm house to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. As part of his Addicted Products project, Italian product designer Simone Rebaudengo has created a connected toaster that becomes unhappy when it goes unused, drawing attention to areas where e-waste can be reduced.

Rebaudengo, in collaboration with the London-based firm Haque Design Research, programmed the Addicted Toaster to set certain values for satisfaction relating to its use. Each time these demands are met, the value required to satisfy the toaster increases again, in effect replicating human addiction. But if the toaster begins to feel neglected, it might just cry out for help.

The Addicted Toaster has a built-in Ethernet port through which it connects to a network of its peers (other smart toasters) via the internet. Through this network, hopeful users can apply to host a toaster, which will be theirs for as long as they keep it happy. The toaster can sense when other toasters in the network are being used by their hosts, which can result feelings of jealousy and contribute to overall discontent.

The toaster demonstrates its unhappiness by moving its lever up and down while making unpleasant noises. If it is really dissatisfied, it will denounce its hosts as unworthy via the toaster network, in which case a courier service will come to whisk it away to a more nurturing household.

While the appeal of having such a demanding toaster might be questionable, the experiment brings to light the kinds of possibilities a connected home could bring. A large-scale toaster-sharing system might not be realistic, but a network that can monitor the use of common household appliances might not only make us more conscious of our usage, but prompt us to think about whether we could get away with sharing a product rather than owning it.

The Addicted Toaster project is part of Rebaudengo's MSc in Design for Interaction at TU Delft University in the Netherlands. The project appears to be on hold, but if you want to host a toaster yourself, you can register your interest here.

You can hear the story of Brad the connected toaster in the video below.