For all who worry about the staleness of milk, there’s a product for that. It’s called Milkmaid, though a maid is not involved in any way. Rather, the Milkmaid is a container that holds milk. It sits on a “smart” base in the refrigerator. Thanks to sensors and other science, Milkmaid has the ability to provide a variety of milk status updates to users. It can tell how many cups of milk are left, whether or not the milk is fresh and, based on temperature readings it knows when you’ve left the milk out on the counter beyond a reasonable amount of time. It’s sort of like a nagging parent or spouse but without the annoying voice and escalating anger. Oh, and you can get these status reports via an iPhone app.
While the very idea of the Milkmaid may be fascinating, its product development cycle is more interesting, and more a sign of the times. The Milkmaid was developed via crowdsourcing. Someone submitted the idea and 1,866 others contributed to developing the product. The Milkmaid is the latest of a line of products developed by Quirky which is a company that participates in a collaborative manufacturing process. Users submit ideas and if others like it, Quirky’s product development team of designers and prototypers work on it. The “crowd” reviews and contributes ideas until a finished version is ready. Eventually, the crowd also determines the package design and ultimately whether or not the product will be manufactured and sold in a wider marketplace. As it turns out, just about anyone can submit an idea for crowdsourcing – all of which is very cool.