How the ‘Internet of Things’ helped one parent keep Christmas gifts under wraps

The Twine programmable sensor. (Photo: Supermechanical)

Attention parents: File this one away as advice for next year.

Microsoft’s Steve Clayton positioned a Twine sensor under the tree prior to Christmas and then set it up to send him a text message if it was moved — thereby alerting him if anyone in the house attempted to get a sneak peek at the presents.

Microsoft’s Steve Clayton is our guest on this weekend’s GeekWire radio show and podcast. (Photo: Erynn Rose.)

Welcome to the brave new world of the “Internet of Things.”

Clayton, the editor of the “Next at Microsoft” blog, will be our guest on this weekend’s GeekWire radio show and podcast, a special New Year’s episode in which we discuss some of the major tech trends on the horizon in 2013. One of the big trends: More and more of the objects around us will be laden with sensors, connected and programmable.

After we recorded the show (prior to Christmas), Clayton let us in on his plan. He documented his overall experience with Twine on the Next at Microsoft blog today. He actually received the Twine as a Christmas gift, and (ironically) opened the package early. Here’s his explanation …

So what’s it all about? After some basic setup you go to a web based dashboard that enables you to setup some simple rules that trigger messages. There is obvious stuff like sending myself a text message when my apartment temperature rises or falls but that’s about us useful as a thermostat – and I have one of those. What’s more interesting are rules that send me a text or email when the device orientation changes. For example, if the device is sat atop a pile of presents under the Christmas tree and a small person decides to “move” said presents, send me a text message. That’s right, I rigged my Christmas tree to stop peeping eyes getting an early look at their presents. Ironic I know that I pre-opened one of my presents to monitor pre-opening of other presents. All in the name of research you see.

Read the full post here. No word yet on whether Clayton snared anyone in his high-tech trap.

Twine started off as a Kickstarter project. A basic version goes for about $125.

Tune in this weekend to hear Clayton discuss this and other tech trends to watch in 2013. GeekWire airs on 97.3 KIRO-FM in Seattle at 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. Sunday, and runs every weekend on GeekWire.com. You can get every episode using this RSS feed, or subscribe in iTunes. Also search for the show on Stitcher, and access the archives here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Murch/705204492 Steve Murch

    I love the idea of Twine, and am planning to order one as soon. On a recent podcast, Scott Hanselman describes using a Twine to send a text message when the garage door is left-open: since the device knows orientation, it can send you a text message if it’s, say, upside-down for more than 5 minutes. Simple and useful home security idea.