With a back catalogue of fridges featuring sparkling water dispensers, independent cooling zones and touchscreens of all shapes and sizes, these days it might be more surprising if Samsung rolled in to CES without some kind of wacky refrigerator in tow. For this year's event, the Korean electronics giant has wheeled out a connected fridge with internal cameras so you can peer inside using your phone when you're out and about. After numerous false starts, could it be Samsung's Family Hub Refrigerator that earns this everyday appliance a place at the table of the Internet of Things?
Just like a number of Samsung's previous takes on the smart fridge, and models from competitors like LG, the Family Hub bears a large display on the outside of the door. This sizeable 21.5-inch full HD LCD screen can display calendars, photos, notes, recipes, shopping lists, and also stream television using screen mirroring with a Samsung Smart TV. It also features a a built-in speaker for music streaming and can hook up to external Bluetooth speakers. As the name suggests, Samsung wants its latest fridge to be the centerpiece of the connected family home.
Inside are three cameras described as "high quality," which can be tuned into through a companion smartphone app at any time. Imagine the possibilities. You could find out which of the kids is over-indulging in lemonade, or perhaps record a dramatic time-lapse of wilting lettuce leaves. Detective and art work aside, it would actually serve a very useful purpose by letting you check in on your fridge's contents while at the grocery store, something we've all wished we could do at one time or another.
This problem could of course be avoided by doing your grocery shopping at home, something that hasn't escaped Samsung either. It has enlisted the people at Mastercard to build a specialized app called Groceries that can be accessed right from the Family Hub's display. Here users can order products from various vendors, with FreshDirect and ShopRite appearing in the promotional video, and then pay at checkout using any US card.
With our ongoing acclimatization to an ever-connected world, perhaps the timing is finally right for the smart fridge to plonk itself down at or near the center of the modern home. Much will of course depend on the pricing, which at the time of writing is unavailable, but if it's not the Family Hub that brings Samsung smart fridge success chances are it'll be returning to the drawing board anyhow. The fridge will be available this coming (US) spring in stainless steel and black.
The short video below offers a quick look at the app and the fridge itself.