In 2012, we wrote a story that showed just how easy it was to turn a fridge into an Internet fridge if you had an iPad 2. Three years later, the iPad 2 is nowhere to be found, so how can you make an internet fridge?
Why an internet fridge
These days, the internet fridge is one of those things people talk about with a sort of comedic fondness. It’s one of those products that never really took off, and yet had the potential to, partly because it was an underdeveloped idea that loosely consisted of a screen paired to a fridge.
In a way, it’s a little like Comic Sans, a font that is ridiculed these days, though we suspect (and hope) the internet fridge is a little more useful, and a little more respected.
For instance, you could use the internet fridge to control your music or look up recipes with an interactive recipe book.
You could also use a tablet to order food from a supermarket, and given that both of the major Australian supermarket chains offer online ordering (and have for quite some time), this is easily possible. At one point in time, TCL was even developing a play on this idea, with a translucent tablet built into a concept fridge that you could keep an eye on food with and order more replacement ingredients.
Running out of soft drink? Order some more. Need more veggies? Do it from here, too.
You could even set the tablet up to control some home automation, if need be, because if you’re using WiFi lightbulbs, motion triggers, or cameras around your home, why not trigger them from the place you pull out your breakfast or change settings while you’re fetching a morning cuppa.
Generally, though, the internet fridge has been about controlling music and light web surfing when you’re in the kitchen, and while you might look at this as a sort of a “why bother” moment — we all have phones, after all — there are logical realisations.
Not everyone in your home has a phone or tablet that they want to use freely in the kitchen, and that they wouldn’t mind getting a little messed up with greasy fingers. An internet fridge, however, is a sort of “everyone can use me” device, allowing information to be seen and shared easily, so you don’t have to mess up that device you spared half your day on.
Another realisation actually comes from IKEA, which has said earlier in the year that the kitchen was likely to be the new central room of the home, as people shifted their focus from the TV in the living room to life in the kitchen.
“Over the next few years there will be a rise in what we call ‘social furniture’, which will be things like multifunctional kitchen islands that allow for food prep, socialising, working, watching TV or spending time with the family,” said Richard Wilson, Sustainability Manager at IKEA Australia.
When you look at how smartphones and tablets are changing the world now, and changing how we view entertainment, it seems as though we’re pulling away from the TV in the living room. While many of us still have one, and are still buying bigger models, we’re less dependent on sitting in front of this box as we once were, now that more mobile devices serve these purposes.
It won’t necessarily be the kitchen that takes up the place of the living room, either, but rather a combined effort between the kitchen and the dining room, because where the food is prepared and subsequently served will likely be the new centre of the home, as that’s where everyone will be to talk, dine, and even deal with a bit of entertainment.