Rather than being another tantalising glimpse of stylish futuristic new computer interfaces which never seem to make it to the market, these products are real and really ready.
They are the outcome of a collaboration between one-year-old Californian company Diba and Pentagram’s product design partner in San Francisco, Robert Brunner.
The interactive units are aimed at giving anyone who is not au fait with computer technology the benefit of simple, affordable ways to access information, primarily from the Internet.
The design emphasis is on simplicity, style and clarity of purpose – each appliance performs a single function which keeps the cost and the user knowledge required to a minimum.
So the kitchen unit is suited to preparing meals using recipes downloaded from CD-Rom or the Net, or for copying any galloping gourmet off the TV, or even just for playing a bit of hardcore techno as you chop the carrots.
Diba Mail is an e-mail and voice mail unit. Diba Internet is a disc which sits on top of a standard TV which then functions, via a hand-held remote control, as a browsing tool for the World Wide Web.
Diba Office enables access to program applications on-line. The keyboard is specific to an application and when the product is turned on the user is immediately hooked up via a standard phone line.
Brunner, previously a director of industrial design at Apple, describes the Diba family as ‘electronic metaphors for simple tools designed to be understandable, familiar and comfortable’. Or, as one potential user has put it: ‘This is the George Jetson stuff I’ve been waiting for’.