Smart Worktops: Early days, Early Dreams
The concept of Smart Worktops® goes back to Andy Phillips’ arrival as owner and MD at Affordable Granite. Back then, we were very much what our name implies – an entry-level route for people to put granite and quartz worktops in their homes. Our background was in general building, and kitchens specifically. Andy brought new ingredients to the mix – a strong IT background, and a determination for the company to invest and develop – taking granite worktops to places they had never been before.
Long term AG blog readers will remember Andy’s early, far-sighted investment in an Icelandic volcano, Enórehtöehtllúp. It was experimentation surrounding that project that led indirectly to the Smart Worktop concept. Surprising results in some of our testing of the Affordable Granite lava flows opened up new horizons in stone technology.
Routine analysis of rock deposits by passing electric currents through the strata is all in a day’s work for our geologists and granite worktop sales people. By measuring the resistivity/conductivity of the ground between various points in the field, it is possible to build up a map of what is below the surface.
This colourful image maps the various deposits beneath the surface in a typical granite field. It actually shows part of the outlying lava flows from our AG volcano. It has been built up from hundreds of conductivity readings, taken across the area being surveyed. It was while conducting exactly this kind of exploration that our team noticed something very odd. Something odd precisely in the kind of granite that we use for worktops.
What puzzled our team was that worktop granite doesn’t just allow the current to pass predictably, as would most strata. Our geologists in the field picked up odd waveforms and, sometimes, an apparently programmatic switching behaviour when the current was passed through the stone. What begin as a chance observation in the field was explored further back in the UK in our Charlwood, Surrey Granite Worktop Research Laboratory.
Results in the lab were even more striking. As a voltage was applied across the stone, a wide range of reactions were picked up. In this case, a 48 volt DC potential difference through a Black Pearl slab gives a waveform output which no one could have predicted.
Just by way of comparison, notice the flat line from this white quartz! The plastic resin in the man-made material clearly prevents any of the unusual effects.
Gradually our team felt that they could come to only one conclusion: granite, cut and polished for worktop use, can act like a massive, naturally occurring silicon chip.
Out of that apparently simple insight grew a dream, a vision, which is now on the verge of becoming a reality. Our scientists made the observations, but it was Andy Phillips who saw the implications for the real world. From the day of the first breathless lab reports, through the cross-checking of results and repeatability analysis, he has been like a man who has seen the light. A man who knows that his company will be first to bring to market… the Smart Worktop®!
In our image anyone can see a stunningly beautiful 3 metre long Magma Black slab. But the scientists in our GWRL also see a piece of AI in the raw – this huge “chip” already has the computing power of a 1990s desktop, even in its natural state. Add external RAM, additional cards and interfaces, and learn to program the thing… and you have a powerful technological addition to the modern home.
Smart Worktops: From Scientific Oddity to Commercial Reality
As soon as we had managed to take initial steps in programming and developing apps for our worktops, our sales and marketing team were involved in thinking through the commercial way forward. For some years this has been on a totally hush-hush basis, but we are delighted to now be able to tell just some of the story!
No – Janet!
A name for our product We took a long time (and considerable market research) on deciding the name and branding for our Smart Worktops®. We looked at male and female names – Genghis, Attila, Theresa and Jezebel were all proposed at one time or another – before we settled on Affordable Janet®. We admit to being inspired by TV’s The Good Place, where Good Janet the adorable computer can appear at will and conjure up… whatever you want, really.
So what can it do? We looked at the uses of other, related products in British kitchens. Our aim – all the brilliance of a Smart Speaker and more, but without having to buy a bit of kit that clutters around your worktop. Your worktop itself does the job! Thank you very much, Janet!
Our first Smart Island – Colonial White – with our first publicly available operating system – GW1.03 .
“What can I do for you today?” “Janet, play ‘Firestarter’ by The Prodigy”
And so the fun begins in this beautiful West Sussex home.
You only have to enter your personal details once. The solid state granite worktop holds delivery and bank account numbers securely. Just a word – Janet, we need a new 70s retro sandwich toaster – and you know the parcel will be with you next day.
Unlike a wallet or phone, you won’t be losing your worktop – and good luck to the thief who is going to try to make off with this Cosmic White Island! Affordable Janet® offers the ultimate in digital security while bringing all the convenience of your smart phone right into the kitchen.
Smart Worktops® are the easiest way to double task in your kitchen, of course. Want to plan and book that big holiday while throwing together a cheeky vanilla, leek and anchovy salad? Just a word, and Affordable Janet® will have your tickets sorted and printed for you!
It is easy to imagine that Smart Worktops will deal with all eventualities. Almost too easy – but your phone isn’t totally obsolete! Don’t worry; Janet will remind you to take it with you when you actually go away!
So there you have it The biggest breakthrough in kitchen worktop technology since the invention of the industrial diamond – and it all began, as so many good things do, at Affordable Granite, Surrey. Sometimes everything DOES come together – a chance and unexpected scientific observation in the field, a dedicated team of pure scientists following up, the developmental flair of our technical teams, and the unsurpassed peerlessness of the AG sales and marketing staff. Above all, the entrepreneurial spirit and breathtaking vision of a man like Andy Phillips.
AT AG we say… What Steve Jobs did for Apples, Andy Phillips is doing for Granite! Wherever people talk to their kitchen worktops, his name will surely be revered.
We are Affordable Granite, the leading granite and quartz worktop installer in Surrey, Sussex and across the South East. We are proud of our expertise and craftsmanship, and can also occasionally be very silly. Especially on 1st April. Come and talk volcanoes, artificial intelligence and worktops with us! You can contact us on 01293 863992 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org/ .
Some photographs on this page are ours. Others have been lifted from the web, and some of these may have slipped through our “labelled for reuse” net. If you see a photo of yours here which you would rather not have associated with this bit of lunacy, please just shout and we will remove it, with apologies.