While we may not have microwaves that Tweet us when our scalding-hot bean burrito is finished, or a voice activated toaster that we can command to eject our toast as soon as we catch the first whiff of burnt crust, this touch-screen fridge concept is perhaps one of the more interesting ideas in the line of interactive appliance concepts.
Similar to how those devices we used to talk on went from ‘phone’ to ‘smartphone’, the lines have blurred between how our lives are easier and how they are more complicated with our smart devices. Sure, having information at the touch of our fingertips has changed…..well, everything, but in order to access the information that’s customized to our own individual needs requires a good amount of data input–something that can be both an organizational blessing and time-wasting curse.
The Smart Fridge aims to translate that experience into the kitchen appliance realm all the way to Siri-like voice command features and instruction delivery, as well as food stock management and internet-enabled recipe searches based on the ingredients in the fridge. Similar to sites like Drinksmixer.com, the fridge takes inventory of what you’ve input into it’s system to search for recipes containing those ingredients. Of course, this is assuming that you stood at the fridge after putting all the groceries away inputting all the food items you bought. However, aren’t we already doing this with our smart phones in order to make our business, fitness, and personal lives easier?
The fridge displays menu options based on what you have in your stock list. If you are missing ingredients for another recipe, it will alert you of what you are missing. Aesthetically, the clear window is nothing new, having been done by Sub-Zero years ago. What is new however, is the use of an electrochromic window and touch sensor that transforms the door into a touch interface once the door is shut. Electrochromic windows are already heavily used in architectural, airline industry, and optical applications and are essentially glass panes that go from clear to opaque, with or without user input.
While I can see this being the next step from current-day touch-screen fridges, I would expect it to have more internal controls, such as swiping a section of the fridge over the window and manually being able to control the environment behind it–essentially creating ‘temperature zones’ at the swipe of a finger. Additionally, while I believe a large number of people would find the food management feature useful, it would lose it’s charm over time due to the painstaking labor of inputting all your groceries. However, with recent conversations centered around adding RFID technology to food packaging, if the fridge had an RFID reader that could change everything…
The User Experience
Add New Groceries To Fridge
Input Your New Food Items
Select a Meal Based on What You Have
Verify Recipe Adjustments
Collect Necessary Ingredients From Fridge
Begin Cooking with Verbal Recipe Instructions
Despite what would be an obviously costly entry into a sci-fi lifestyle, would you find a use for this concept, or wait for the voice-command toaster?