People love snarking at tech like smart fridges. While the price isn’t exactly affordable just yet, you can’t deny that smart fridges could actually be pretty useful.
During CES earlier this year, Samsung and LG doubled down on their smart appliances, with their new smart fridges being one of the biggest focal points. While many CES attendees spent time whispering quips to their peers (including my coworkers), I was sitting back dreaming about how useful something like this would be in a lot of homes.
You Can See What’s in Your Fridge While Grocery Shopping
Most smart fridges have a super wide-angle camera mounted inside the fridge so that you can see what your have right from your smartphone—an wonderful tool when you’re at the grocery store.
“But why couldn’t you just open up the fridge and take a picture with your phone,” you ask? In an ideal scenario, this is exactly what you would do, but too many times you’re already out and about when decide to stop by the grocery store to pick up a few things. Or you decide last minute that you’ll stop by on your way home from work.
It could even save you a trip to the store. How many times have you wondered what you could cook at home, but couldn’t remember if you had the right stuff and just decided to go shopping anyway?
Furthermore, something like this could come in handy when you’re craving a midnight snack, but aren’t sure exactly what to snack on. This way you can just look at the camera feed on your phone without keeping the fridge door open and wasting all that energy (and money). Some smart fridges also come with touch screens that double as a window, so at any time you can peek through the door to see what’s inside.
They Have Touch Screens, Which You Probably Use in the Kitchen Anyway
As mentioned above, most smart fridges have touch screen tablets that mimic those you probably already have around your home.
Of course, these touch screens may not be anywhere close to being as good as an iPad, but they can still be useful for basic kitchen stuff, like searching for recipes, browsing the family calendar, or listening to music—stuff that you might already do with your current tablet in the kitchen, meaning a built-in tablet on a fridge isn’t farfetched at all.
You might even argue that having an internet connected family calendar right there on the fridge where people can’t miss it is a pretty killer feature.
Obviously, depending on your tastes, you may not like the touch screen interface that comes with most smart fridges, and Samsung or LG aren’t really known for their amazing tablet user interfaces. But perhaps in the future we’ll see smart fridges get better at this and maybe even become a bit more diverse by letting third parties bring their own OSes to smart fridge touch screens.
They Have Alexa Built-In, Which Is Handy in the Kitchen
Just like with touch screens in the kitchen, you likely already have a voice assistant in your kitchen as well. And Alexa can be extremely useful in the kitchen.
With Alexa (or other voice assistant), you can set timers, get measurement conversions, add stuff to your grocery list, and even learn how to make certain dishes by calling up recipes.
Some smart fridges have Alexa built in, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s a standard feature in all smart fridges and other major appliances. As much as I hate it, voice control is getting integrated into everything, and it’s going to keep heading in that direction as time goes on.
This Is Where Appliances Are Heading, So Get Used to It
In any case, as much as you might laugh at the idea of smart fridges, they’re here to stay. It might take 5, 10, or even 20 years for them to become commonplace in the kitchen, but nonetheless, smart fridges will become the norm.
It’s like when smart TVs first started showing up on the market. They were rare at first and weren’t necessarily affordable. Now, you practically can’t buy a new television without it being a smart TV, no matter how much you might hate them. I argue that the same thing will happen with smart fridges and other major appliances. You probably laugh at the salesman when he pitches you a Wi-Fi-enabled water heater, but at some point in the future, you’ll be hard pressed to find one without Wi-Fi. The same goes for smarts in a refrigerator.