Knowing the temperature indoors and out has fascinated my wife, Lorraine, for many years. So she was thrilled when I gave her a wireless indoor/outdoor thermometer a few years back that I purchased at Radio Shack. She loves it, though I haven’t been too thrilled with it. The outdoor piece needs to be monitored, since it is at the mercy of the weather. It even disappeared one time, when our nextdoor neighbor’s dog ran off with it. Battery life is not so hot either, and changing the batteries in the outdoor piece requires a mini philips head screwdriver, since the case is weatherproof. But all in all, the device does what it’s supposed to do—display the temperature inside and out.
Now my wife wants to buy a bunch of these wireless thermometers as presents for her friends and relatives. I tried to talk her out of it, using the argument that not everyone wants to know the current temperature at all times. Whatever happened to stepping outside for a moment and making an educated guess? In the back of my mind I’m thinking, no one is ever going to change the batteries in the outdoor unit.
But Lorraine persisted and is now ordering a bunch of these devices. But is she purchasing them at Radio Shack? Nope. She’s ordering them from the L.L.Bean web site. I have to admit, I wouldn’t have thought of that. If I were looking for an offbeat electronics product like a wireless thermometer, I’d check the usual suspects: Radio Shack, Best Buy, Circuit City, Amazon.com and so forth. Apparently, L.L.Bean gives out discount coupons as a thank you for buying their products. That’s certainly a reason to check there first for your electronics needs.
I think most engineers have a design or two lurking in their heads—the better mousetrap, so to speak. For the wireless thermometer, there’s not many parts involved, a sensor, a/d converter, microcontroller, display, RF transmitter and receiver. I’ll bet there’s a product just as simple that could be a big hit with Lorraine and her friends and family. But the lesson here is don’t think just Radio Shack for distribution, keep L.L.Bean in mind, too.
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