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Are Smart Refrigerators ACTUALLY Worth the Hype?

by Geek Insider Staff
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Smart refrigerators have flocked the market but are they really smart enough? Smart appliances have become the trend ranging from dishwashers to TV. However, modern refrigerators fall short, and it might take some time before they become as smart as other appliances. 

How Smart Are Modern Refrigerators?

Unlike other smart home appliances, smart refrigerators can’t start, shut or conduct specific commands. The readily available smart refrigerators in the market are similar to what we’re used to in the past, with only a few whistles and bells. 

For example, recent models such as LG’s ThinQ refrigerator come with LED lighting, dual icemakers with Craft Ice, and more. There’s also the InstaView Door-in-Door feature to let you see through the refrigerator’s door. 

You’ll be lucky to have a smart refrigerator with Wi-Fi integration and an app to change the temperature or order extra ice from Google Home, Amazon Alexa, or ThinQ mobile app. Such an app also sends notifications regarding the smart refrigerator, such as when the door is left ajar. 

While traditional refrigerators lack these features, including them in modern models doesn’t make them “smart.” We expect more, especially when spending more than $4000 on the device, only to find that the only exceptional feature is the icemaker supercharger. 

You can explore more smart features on Samsung’s Family Hub smart refrigerators. In addition to the supercharge, these refrigerators help you monitor other rooms in the house through webcams, use voice commands to control other smart home appliances, adjust room temperature, control home lighting, and see who’s at your doorstep. What’s more, the Samsung smart model can even reflect what’s playing on the Samsung smart TV and play music on Spotify and Pandora. 

These features place the Family Hub closer to what we expect in a smart refrigerator. The Quick View camera placed inside the fridge makes it easy for you to see contents through a phone app. While the same app helps you create shopping lists and plan meals, it doesn’t generate suggestions or inventory what’s inside. You do it manually. 

What Should I Expect from A Smart Refrigerator?

You don’t classify a refrigerator as smart just because it has Alexa and Wi-Fi capabilities. A smart appliance should more with little effort from you.

Camera installation inside the device would improve the functionality, especially if you pair this with AI tech. Essentially a smart refrigerator should perform the following tasks.

  1. Inform you when an item has run out. 
  2. Alert on food expiry.
  3. Understand your favorite items, automatically generate a shopping list, and send it to your local store for delivery. 

A smart refrigerator can do more than that. You should be able to connect it to your smart TV so that you can save a recipe from your favorite cooking show and send it to the smart refrigerator. 

The smart refrigerator should save the recipe and check what you need to add. Alternatively, the smart refrigerator should include the items you need in the next grocery list. Note that this process should happen so fast, even before the cooking show runs commercials. 

Imagine a refrigerator that checks the available ingredients and helps you decide what to cook. That would solve all the guesswork in your meal preparation.

Why True Smart Refrigerators Might Never Be

We may never see the level of intelligence we expect in a smart refrigerator. The main reason for this involves a combination of real-world usage and technology. 

Disorganized Consumers

We’ve highlighted the internal camera that lets you see contents through your app. The camera can only help if the items in your smart refrigerator are organized and easy to see. 

Unfortunately, most users are disorganized with the refrigerator cluttered with items. Even the smartest smart camera would struggle to single out items when they’re everywhere. 

Products Aren’t RFID-Enabled

The best way to organize a cluttered refrigerator is through Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. This works in cashierless grocery stores where products have tags with built-in frequency transmitters. 

A smart refrigerator with a built-in RFID reader would easily sense tagged products and help with ordering and organization. 

Unfortunately, most products in the stores today lack RFID tags meaning that the tech must become universal for the feature to work on smart refrigerators. 

Today’s Smart Refrigerators May Not Be Smart Enough

Apparently, modern refrigerators have a long way to go to live up to the smart hype. Adding Amazon Alexa and Wi-Fi does not make a high-end refrigerator smart. 

So, you’ll probably have to wait a while for a smart refrigerator that monitors food usage and generates a grocery list. This may happen as soon as people organize their products and incorporate RFID technology.

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