September 09, 2011
| by Lisa Montgomery
Back in the day when people talked about smart refrigerators, the conversation usually revolved around having a small TV built into the door of the appliance. Many manufacturers introduced them; few succeeded to win over consumers.
Now that apps have started to proliferate in TVs, Blu-ray players, home control systems, thermostats, and other devices, appliance manufacturers seem ready to take another crack at high-tech features.
In the case of Samsung, the company demonstrated at the CEDIA Expo this week in Indianapolis a refrigerator with a built-in 8-inch Wi-Fi LCD screen with several kitchen-specific apps preloaded. None of the apps have anything to do with watching video—a failed application of past iterations of smart refrigerators. Rather the apps available to the RF4289HARS ($3,499) provide truly helpful information to users. By touching the Epicurious icon, for example, families can quickly find recipes for dinner. Other apps include Weatherbug, AP News, Google Calendar, Pandora, Twitter and Picasa Photos. But one of the coolest features is the connection between the screen and Samsung’s SH100 Wi-Fi enabled camera. With a touch, images stored on the camera can be transferred wirelessly to the screen of the refrigerator. In the same manner, the images can also be transmitted to any of Samsung’s DLNA-compliant TV.
Also showing kitchen appliance-type apps at CEDIA was home control manufacturer Control4. By downloading apps to Control4’s home control system, users can monitor Sub-zero E Series refrigerators and Wolf built-in series ovens that have been fitted with a special module by a certified Control4 dealer. With the module installed and the app downloaded users can monitor the preheat status of the oven, for example, and be alerted via a text message, flashing lights or some other indicator that the oven is ready. A Control4-enabled refrigerator, meanwhile, can alert homeowner if the door was left open or if the water filter needs to be changed. By pressing icons on a Control4 touchpanel a user can also instruct the refrigerator to make more ice for a party, to defrost at night or to prepare for Sabbath.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.