The Future of the Fridge

My parents were in town for the wedding this weekend, and they commented on how little food I have in my fridge and pantry.

This is by design, of course. I try to only buy what I need for that week. I don’t like to accumulate food that I’m not using. When I temporarily moved out of my place last fall, I threw away about 30 bottles of condiments. No one needs that many condiments. I try to use what I have and then buy new things.

However, their comments got me thinking about the potential of my fridge. How is it 2010 and my fridge doesn’t know what’s inside of it? When I’m at the grocery store, I should be apple to open my iFridge app and see if I need more milk or if I already have teriyaki sauce so I don’t end up with two or three bottles of teriyaki sauce.

Also, why can’t my fridge tell me what I can make with its contents? If you go on any cooking website now, you can type in a few ingredients and get thousands of sortable recipes. I’d like my fridge to come with a built-in touchscreen that lets me choose a few foods in the fridge (or pantry, items in which I’d have to scan into the iFridge), and it’ll output recipes for me. If I only have 15 minutes to cook, I can choose from a number of meals within that range. It’ll read the recipe out loud to me if I want it to. And it’ll remember what I make so if I want to make the same thing a year later, I can search for the meal and remember exactly how I made it.

How would your fridge of the future work?

Daily Quickie: There’s some kind of glitch on WordPress lately that’s causing me to miss some comments. WordPress is supposed to e-mail me whenever I get a new comment, but it’s only doing that for some comments (I can’t find a pattern, and they’re being posted–I’m just not informed that they’re being posted). I like to reply to almost all comments, so this is throwing me off. So (a) please don’t be offended if I don’t reply to your comment, especially on an old post. And (b) if you post something that warrants a response (i.e., if it’s really witty or if you ask a question) and I don’t say anything for a few days, e-mail me and let me know. Maybe that would help me figure out what’s going on. My best guess is that Biddy is up to something.

14 thoughts on “The Future of the Fridge”

    • Thanks! 🙂 I’m actually astonished that this doesn’t already exist. I mean, even if you have to scan in all items (pantry and fridge), I think that functionality would be used.

      • Have it scan your reciept so you don’t have to scan all items individually. But you’d also have to tell it when you used things, and how much/many you used, so it knows when you are out.

        • I love the idea of scanning the receipts. When you’re ready to throw out an item, you just scan the bar code before you trash it.

        • Also, it may take some manual entry. Like, say you’re low on milk but not ready to trash it. You can just bring up the inventory screen and change the milk setting from “have” to “low” (the third option being “out”).

  1. Okay, let me take this a step further, because everything becomes a little easier and closer to reality if it’s not automated and not built in. You can buy a fridge mount for your iPad so it can sit on your fridge like a flat screen. That way you don’t have to buy a new fridge for this purchase.

    Ideally the new iPad will have a camera that can be used for the scanner that Red mentions above. But even if it doesn’t, you could manually enter what you purchase. It might take a few minutes the first time around, but after that it’ll be much quicker because you’ll have a list of items in your inventory, and the most often used/purchased ones will rise to the top of the list so you don’t even have to scroll down. When you get home from the grocery store, you quickly tap in what you purchased so that the cooking app can take care of the functionalities I listed above. And when you go to the grocery store the next week, you pull out your iPhone, open the iFridge app (which syncs with the iPad) and find out what you need. Again, no need to buy a new fridge, which will cost you more than the iPad anyway.

    In fact, even better, the iPad has a built-in accelerometer that could register whenever you open your fridge. If it feels the fridge door open, it has the iFridge up and running just in case you need to update the status of a certain item.

    And yes, you could probably just use your iPhone or iPod Touch for all of this. It’s just that the size of the iPad really helps when displaying recipes or lists of items or playing instructional cooking videos.

    Also, the iFridge app could monitor grocery stores in the area to tell you when past purchased items are on sale. Looks like there are apps that already exist for this, but if they all sync together you got optimal functionality.

  2. THIS is an idea that you should submit to that invention contest. Or just to apple. I don’t know the details, but apple has this program:

    which seems to be exactly who you would need to work with to make this happen. On a technical note, the most efficient way to make this happen would be to actually build an integrated fridge that had spots for each item that you could program. For example, there could be areas on the fridge door for cartons and you could specify spot X was for milk. Each spot would have a weight sensor – so it would know if an item was sitting on that spot, and how much was left. This would have the added benefit of having a VERY organized fridge.

    Good luck!

    • The guys at GE and Whirlpool who saw Social Network this past weekend and who have read your blog are all around a corporate conference call right now saying “Oh, sh@& !!” $55 million settlement, anyone?

    • It’s true, the weight sensor idea is ideal. Although I wonder if this is one of those solutions where if the quick and easy solution were made accessible to the masses via the iPad, if it caught on, it would lead to better integration soon after.

      I checked out that link–were you suggesting I tell Apple to make an iPad holder for the fridge? That already exists, fortunately.

      • No, I was suggesting you tell Apple to make the application for Ipad that integrates the existing apps into one to do everything you describe in your post when information is entered manually.

  3. Patent this quickly!

    You could have something else that includes diet restrictions in it to make sure you are getting a balanced day’s worth of food. Did you have your dairy today? Did you limit your trans fat?

    Inevitably though, someone would develop a spin off that has the fridge telling you you’re fat and locks the door or something. Electronic conscience.

    • Ooo, I like the diet integration into the system. Nice idea! Ha ha…I’ll work on the spin off too 🙂 I like that.


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