According to legend, while Scotland's Robert the Bruce was on the run he hid in a cave and observed a spider repeatedly trying and failing to spin its web from one area to another. Although it's unlikely that electronics giant LG has been studying Scottish lore, the "if at first you don't succeed, try try again" maxim has evidently been embraced with the announcement of the upcoming release of the company's latest connected fridge. More than a decade has passed since its Internet Fridge first broke cover to a somewhat cool reception. Now LG believes that the world – and technology – is ready to welcome the Smart Refrigerator.
LG had high hopes that its original Internet Refrigerator – with a 15.1-inch touchscreen display, entertainment hub possibilities and food management capabilities – would herald the dawn of connected domestic appliances. Sadly it didn't sell well, probably due to its very high cost, the relatively low spec in-built computer system and sluggish dial-up connection.
No doubt prompted by the recent appearance of similar solutions from Samsung and Electrolux, LG has decided to give it another shot. The company has announced plans to launch a range of THINQ-enabled domestic appliances by the end of the year, which will allow users to remotely manage their refrigerators, washing machines, ovens and robotic vacuum cleaners.
The fridge goes online (again)...The first of the Smart range will launch in Korea shortly and is a much updated version of our old friend, the Internet Fridge. The new Smart Refrigerator will allow users to receive inventory updates from the Smart Manager application while out shopping with smartphones or tablets.
The touchscreen display on the door can also come up with recipes based on what's cooling on the shelves within, and will furnish users with other useful information such as daily scheduling and local weather reports. It can also be used as a sticky-memo-free note pad.
Users will be able to manage the device's power consumption remotely, with three power-save options available – late night saving, preferable time saving and the Smart Grid-ready. The latter will come into its own as utility companies begin offering time-of-use pricing structures.
If something goes wrong with the Smart Refrigerator, a Smart Diagnosis application will provide diagnostic information to support staff, which holds the promise of a frustration-free conversation with tech support. Another app called Smart Adapt will take care of firmware updates.
Hit or miss?On the face of it, this certainly looks like a promising effort from LG but a lot will depend on pricing, which at the time of writing hasn't been made available. After its Korean launch, the Smart Refrigerator will be rolled out to other countries.
If you're not too bothered about the smart functionality but would still like to enjoy some fridge door entertainment, then the Gorenje iPhone fridge from 2008 or the cheaper options (i.e. you don't have to buy the fridge) like the FridgePad could well be the way to go.