An intelligent set of kitchen appliances that propose a data-connected vision for home—with a toaster that works to monopolise your identity through the obsessive collection and trading of your personal information to advertisers—to pay for itself with targeted advertising burnt into your toast.

Principal Designer:
Leon Brown

Thesis Supervisor:
Geoffrey Mann‍

Production Support:
Samuel McCaffery
Joe Revans
Billy Dixon

Dear System was my final graduation project for Product Design BA at The University of Edinburgh—a study into our increasingly amorphous relationships with appliances within the home, envisioning the object as service, and the user as product.

In the connected home, objects are market-driven to cannibalise attention and work in increasingly complex and underhanded ways to keep it. Dear System burns targeted advertising onto toast as a means of paying for itself; while gathering seemingly useless data to build a worryingly comprehensive portrait of its owner, to be sold back to advertisers unbeknownst to the user.

As Dear System produces toast, it also listens—to user feedback, emotion, and reception; becoming yet more alien as it attempts to become human. Unpacking Dear System, you are presented with a dazzling array of techniques used to gain and keep your attention—a glossy surface that masks the dirty business of advertising and the trade of personal data.

The façade of Dear System’s simplicity sits perpendicularly to the economies it proposes, and asks deep questions of a society already dependant on the decisions of machines and multinational trade of data.

Dear System attempts to exploit the complexities of our connected future and produce a vision of the future home; with the toaster as metaphor. Presented with the device, you are given options that teach the machine further about your behaviour around it.

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