While a fridge’s day job is to keep your perishables from dying an early death, it also moonlighted as your family’s unofficial noticeboard.
You know what we’re talking about - those magnets accumulated from years of travel, scraps of scribbled-on paper, and photos. Samsung wants to keep the front of your fridge nice and clean, yet make it more central in your home with its digital dashboard.
But what does it do exactly? And is it all that useful? We duly trooped down to Samsung’s booth at CES to find out.
Running Tizen, the fridge wants to compete with your smartphone to be the first thing you check in the morning, which is sort of fitting since most of us are only truly awake after the first cup of coffee.
Tap into Morning Brief to quickly get weather, traffic conditions, and news headlines. You can also check on your family members’ schedules, send photos, and messages via the StickiBoard app which you can pin on the fridge. We hear the spaces are customisable as in you can shift them around, but whether you could change all of them to only hosting photos wasn’t specified.
It would be fun though to send a message via the app to the fridge to which your partner can wake up to, the modern equivalent of leaving a note out for her. Plus, you get away with only remembering after you leave the house. It’s really easy, just bring up the app, type or draw like you would an instant message, and it takes only a couple of seconds to appear on the screen. Pretty cool.
You can also order food from your fridge on FreshDirect and ShopRite (how that will be translated to Singapore, we don’t know), look up recipes, but what’s more useful is the fact that you can keep track of your groceries.
The inside of the fridge’s double doors are lined with cameras that capture an image of your groceries every time it’s closed so that you can attach tags of the number of days till it expires to it. And it will count down every day until it reaches the last three at which point it will send you a notification to let you know this food won’t be lasting much longer.
Food items that are hidden can be manually keyed into the list. All of this information can be accessed from the Samsung Smart Home app say when you’re at the grocery store and need to be reminded of what’s lacking.
However, should you remove an item from the fridge, the tag remains which means you have to manually remove it yourself. There’s also a limitation to what the cameras can capture as their field of view does not extend to the shelves on the doors themselves.
It’s an interesting feature no doubt, but it needs a bit more intelligence to make it truly useful, like automatically ordering replacements, or even the simplest task of removing the tags once it detects that the item is moved or removed.
The fridge has two upper compartments and two lower ones. One of the lower ones, called the FlexZone can alternate identities as either your freezer or fridge. You just have to adjust the temperature on the display.
Now that’s useful should you find yourself running out of freezer space for those five industrial sized tubs of ice-cream you’ve impulsively splurged on.
If you’re thinking that 21.5-inch full HD LCD screen is begging to do more than just display your day’s boring schedule, you’re right. It can mirror your Samsung Smart TV (2015 and later models), so you don’t have to miss a single minute of your TV binge while you make a snack.
But that’s not all. It can also transform into an audio system, working with Pandora to play your music via its built-in speaker. If you like things loud, you can link it up with a Bluetooth speaker, too. No word on Spotify or any other music streaming services though.
The Family Hub fridge is certainly promising, but some of the features still need a more fine-tuning to ensure that people actually use them, instead of using that display as a glorified notification centre. There’s still time before the fridge becomes reality in Q2 2016. No word on the pricing yet, we’ll let you know when we do.