Microsoft is working on designs for a connected trashcan, industry sources said, potentially joining rivals like Rubbermaid in working on a new class of office products.
Earlier this month, Microsoft engineers were spotted at a Redmond, Wash., area office supply store. Sources at the store have indicated that the engineers were buying trashcans, and placing orders for several shipments of various models.
One store clerk reported that he saw members of Microsoft's research and development team at the store. He overheard them discussing the merits and functionality of the various models on display, as well as a debate over how to best integrate the trashcans into the software company's Redmond, Wash., headquarters. But it's unclear whether Microsoft will opt to move ahead with the smart trashcan, he said.
Microsoft declined to comment.
Some investors and big technology companies are betting on a boom in mobile, computerized trashcans built around the growing power and slimming size of sensors that can detect motion, geographic location, and voice commands of people on the go.
"We see growing demand for smart trashcans as more tech pundits pontificate on the inconvenience of an immobile trashcan and the nuisance of getting up to take a piece of trash to a receptacle on the other side of the room," said RBS analyst Wanli Wang. "A smart trashcan that is compatible with a home Wifi network and other electronics devices would be attractive to consumers."
Research firm Gartner expects the market for smart trashcans to be a $1 billion industry by 2016.
Folks, the above snippet was my satirical commentary on the Microsoft smart watch story in the WSJ. When I read the article I just could not help but roll my eyes.
I am not saying that the idea (MS making a smartwatch) is ridiculous, but the evidence offered in support of the story is thin. It is ridiculously thin, so much so that my satirical response is just as likely to occur.
I would not go so far as to say that MS is experimenting with smart watches - not on this evidence. Sure, this is a hot product idea right now, and they could be kicking the idea around the office. But there is a huge difference between a few hardware engineers slapping parts together on a breadboard and setting a goal of launching a new product.
Also, tech companies buy parts for all sorts of stuff all the time. Lots of stuff is used to experiment on lots of different ideas, but that doesn't mean that any single part can be used as evidence that that a product is under development.
Wait until someone at MS goes on the record. Then we might have some news.