I’ve long thought that Laundry machines should be the first appliances to use the internet. I always forget that I have my clothes in the wash, and that I need to move them into the dryer. This was especially the case with living in the dorms. I wished my laundry machine would text message me when things were done. Now, I hear that there are people doing this (yay!), and that some college dorms have it.
What are some of the other things in the house that would be more useful with an internet connection? A toliet paper dispenser with an RSS feed and a toaster that can toast the weather on your bread are some that come to mind. If it moves in that direction, I imagine that either devices will get far too complicated, or that the design and use of everyday things will reign in the rampant featuritis that afficts those that make consumer electronics.
There are a couple things that have to happen before something like this is a reality. Home network is already cheap, but ethernet wiring in the house is not yet ubiquitous. Thanks to wireless routers, however, this will be a possibility, but will also raise the cost of these appliances.
Personal devices, such as cell phones, will have to have the ability to easily share meta information about its owner to these appliances. This will make it much more appealing for users to use internet appliances…it will be catered towards them.