Samsung wants your fridge to be a generative AI art piece. I want mine to keep food cold
When I want to chill out, I don’t need a fridge to be the centre of my universe – but tech companies increasingly disagree
When I was growing up, the kitchen was a utilitarian space. It was where you cooked food – and sometimes ate it. But for many, modern living transformed the kitchen into the hub of the home. And tech companies are hungry to own that space – Samsung in particular.
We have a Samsung fridge – a large, oppressive, black, shiny, US-style unit. It’s the Darth Vader of fridges. But it’s pre-smart fridge. Its cleverest bit is a water dispenser. And most of the time, its surface is covered in personal knick-knacks and children’s drawings.
Samsung would argue we consider the fridge like a phone and upgrade to something modern. But until I stumbled upon the latest press release for Samsung Bespoke fridges, I was unaware how modern that might be.
Instead of your fridge being covered in scribbles or sticking out like a sore supervillain, Samsung thinks it should be a personalised cutting-edge digital art exhibition. Accordingly, it’s now offering prints by AI artist Matt Johnson as a starting point for custom compositions. A mere eight weeks later, they’re delivered to your door – as actual doors. Samsung engineers will then swap out your old and inferior doors – all for the princely sum of $300 per panel.
But what if you’re not into AI art? You can design your own! Instead of sticking a holiday snap on your fridge with a magnet, your family’s faces can loom across the kitchen from metre-high panels. While you eat, you can beam that your fridge is your own and no one else has one like it. (Friends unfortunate enough to agree to dinner can exchange worried glances and use blinky Morse code to plan their escape.)
From what I can tell, this level of customisation hasn’t yet reached the UK. Bespoke here means ‘pick a colour’. But it’s surely only a matter of time. Samsung sees smart fridges as a ‘Family Hub’ and has wider designs on the kitchen. You can see where things might head.
The company has already merged its Bespoke units with smart fridges akin to the world’s least portable Android tablets that spy on your food. Each one has a huge screen and can play music and display your daily schedule. An internal camera gawps at your groceries and sometimes successfully organises deliveries and meal plans. It can even talk to a Samsung oven to streamline meal creation – or plot to overthrow humanity when someone picks Doritos lasagne over the fridge’s carefully curated cuisine.
Logically, the embedded screens will soon evolve to become door-sized bespoke screens of eye-searing art and photos fed from social media feeds. “This is the next level of home appliance customisation”, Samsung will warble, answering a question no one asked.
Then Samsung’s designs will expand beyond the fridge. Countdown on your oven door! Your Samsung smart kitchen ceiling: a revolving meme! Samsung smart curtains cruelly displaying tomorrow’s schedule, because you can never have a moment’s peace.
You’ll try to escape. It will be too late. Every tech company will engage in a scramble to “unlock new ways to experience digital art and personalise your home”. They’ll plaster every surface with a never-ending cycle of visual stimulation and unnecessary information.
Then ads will arrive, because money. You’ll stare at them for five minutes every hour so they go away, and curse that you once considered Black Mirror satire rather than a warning. Still, if there’s one thing that’ll finally make smart home tech work together, it’s not Matter – it’s the prospect of making your eyes scream staring at inescapable adverts, while you rock in the corner and remember the good old days. When you used to gather around the fridge, singing Spotify songs. Like a real family.