/ Home & Energy

I’m not hungry for a smart fridge

Anyone care to hazard a guess as to what ‘Smart Thinq Technologies’ could mean in the world of fridges? How about a fridge that can plan your meals, tell you when your food’s off and order eggs when you’ve run out?

Call me innovatively challenged, but when I saw this catchy slogan on a press release for a shiny, futuristic-looking fridge, my first thought was that LG had come up with some sort of precision thermostat to regulate the temperature more efficiently.

At most, I was hoping for a digital display that would tell me whether the fridge was working a-ok, so I’d know if I was likely to face the hassle and expense of a service or replacement in the near future. Basically, everything I’d need to know so that I didn’t have to give my fridge a second thought.

Are you as smart as LG’s fridge?

But apparently, I wasn’t thinking big enough. This fridge has ‘device-to-device connectivity’ and a ‘smart manager’. Still lost? Well, it will know what food you’ve got, when these items will go off and whether you’ve run out of a certain foodstuff.

You can use its in-built screen to create shopping lists and shop online, to ‘eliminate the hassle of having to write down grocery shopping lists the old-fashioned way’ (LG’s words, not mine). It gets better (or worse). Based on the personal details you share with your fridge, its ‘health manager’ will tell you what you should be eating and helpfully suggest a diet plan.

You can sync your fridge with your smartphone so you can do all of this on the go. And if you decide to take your fridge up on one of its offered recipes, you can even send the cooking instructions to your oven (providing you own the requisite LG smart oven, of course) and it’ll turn itself on to the correct setting.

Can I really be bothered?

Of course, this fridge is only as smart as you are organised. It will warn you when your eggs are about to go out of date, provided you can be bothered to input this information into the fridge’s computer when you’re unloading your shopping. It will suggest personalised, health-based recipes, as long as you don’t mind entering your age, weight and Body Mass Index.

Personally, I don’t have the time or inclination to interact with my fridge on this level. I’m not the only one. When we wrote about LG’s ‘smart’ fridge last year, Emily commented:

‘I have far better things to do with my time than log every item as I put it away when I get home from the supermarket – usually like making the dinner. I’d probably starve to death by the time I’d finished cataloguing my purchases.’

What can your fridge do for you?

If I sound a bit ‘bah humbug’, it’s because I’m frustrated. I’d much rather fridge makers spent money designing more robust machines that last longer and don’t breakdown, before they start getting carried away with technological advancements.

What do I want my fridge to do (aside from the obvious)? I want it to feature split shelves so that I can stand bottles upright, a freezer compartment that doesn’t ice up, and I want it to alert me when I’ve left the door open. Oh wait, solutions for these problems have already been invented.

But, I do admit, LG’s smart fridge got me thinking – perhaps I’ve just closed my mind to the potentials of a humble fridge? Do you want your fridge to be smarter?

Would you buy a 'smart' fridge?

No, I want my fridge to be good at keeping things cold (83%, 142 Votes)

Yes, I want my fridge to help me more (17%, 30 Votes)

Total Voters: 172

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It is absolutely ridiculous that fridges are sold without built-in thermometers. The top priority is to have a fridge that will keep the contents as near to freezing point without freezing anything. Some fridges (particularly self-defrosting models) allow the temperature to rise to around 8 degrees Centigrade and that is neither recommended or acceptable. The temperature of a fridge cycles because the compressor switches on and off, controlled by a thermostat. It is possible to regulate the temperature more closely but this will result in short operating times for the compressor, which will use more energy and may decrease reliability.

Fridges should be designed to encourage storage of fresh meat at the bottom to prevent juices dripping on salad or other food that could be served without cooking.

I don’t feel strongly about smart fridges but I hope that some of the basics will be given a greater priority.

Anon the mouse says:
19 January 2012

Invisibly syncing information between devices, in this case fridge to phone, is a fantastic move.
Disable all the demands it makes and just let it function like an intelligent shopping list, show me what is in the fridge and the expiry dates. I can look at the list in the shop if I can’t remember what I already have.

Anyone with a kindle and smartphone should be used to this idea, as it syncs automatically 🙂

Yeah – great idea – how about linking it up to my car so that the car can make toast when I’m driving to work. There’s no end to these fantastic ideas. Probably useful to some people but let’s get the things designed properly to do the job they are made to do before moving into the realms of Science Fiction.

Sophie Gilbert says:
20 January 2012

Next they’ll invent technology to tell you when you’re hungry.

Sophie Gilbert says:
20 January 2012

And there will be people to buy it.

I think it’s great some people are wiling to buy this. 10 years ago internet supermarket shopping did not exist and of course that to start with, it was not running smoothly.
Nowadays many people use it.
So with this fridge, it’s an interesting concept, I personally doubt that without it reading the electronic RFID or similar labels that we will soon be getting, it is too much effort for the saving. But wait till the supply chain starts putting this (additionally or instead of printed bar codes), and then I can see a real advantage.
But of course, some people may leave empty packages in the fridge – point being that there will always be someone to fault it.

Having spent absolutely hours trying to sort out a built-in fridge freezer and then its replacement I absolutely agree with Wavechange about thermometers – and written guidelines inside the fridge about what temperature a fridge and freezer should be running at. Trying to do this on short visits to the in-laws has been a nightmare!

And let’s have writing nice and large – we are an ageing population!

Lets just get one that keeps the temperature correct, cleans itself of all biological agents and always works even when the power is off.

A nagging fridge. I would have thought that would put its longevity in danger!

It is interesting that with the attack on the supermarkets and packaging industry for over packaging that justification is being claimed that this packaging is needed to give us information.

Why do we need to be told on the packaging that keeping fruit cool may lengthen its life? Has it something to do with supermarkets encouraging waste with all their offers on short-life food? Is it because we have been brainwashed by all the chemicals it is grown in and sprayed with to lengthen its life so they can sell more at a time? Do we want to spend all this time inputting information and managing large amounts of food. What are your choices? Either you throw it away or you get fat from overeating or you turn your home into a large cold storage area.

Or what about just buying less short-life stuff at a time and enjoying it at its best?

I like the way more of them have see-through drawers now. It is better to be able to see what vegetables are there.

Why is the vegetable drawer at the bottom? Is there a very good reason? I think I’d prefer to put my fresh meat at the bottom where it can’t drip any further down.