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.
“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.
Before that happens, however, you can turn your fridge or even a wall near the fridge into a piece of the future, provided you have a spare smartphone or tablet that you’re not doing anything with, or even one purchased for the occasion.
Once you have that, you’re nearly ready to go, so how do you go about building an internet fridge?
The iPad was only in its second generation and Android tablets were only just getting ramped up, and so your easy way of making an internet fridge wasn’t cheap, and was pretty much limited to mounting one device to your fridge.
When we wrote that article in 2012, the tablet you wanted to use was the iPad 2, and the accessory in question you would be using to make it happen was the Belkin Wall Mount, a two part solution consisting of a magnetic plate to latch onto the edge of the iPad 2 and a backing plate to hook onto this section and the fridge by way of 3M Command strips.
It was easy to use an a fantastic way of making that fridge into an internet appliance in a jiffy, or even a wall if you wanted to use that instead.
In the three years since then, however, much about the tablet world has changed.
For instance, the Apple iPad — easily the most popular tablet out there — no longer relies heavily on the magnetic edge. Up until the iPad Air design rocked up, Apple used the magnetic edges for covers, which Belkin used as a way of holding the iPad in on the Wall Mount.
On the current Air, Air 2, and iPad Mini models, the design has changed, and while a magnet is still found in the model, it’s mostly there to switch the screen on and off when a cover is open or closed.
As such, the magnet won’t hold the tablet up if Belkin were to use the magnetic mount on its wall mount options.
Not that it would if it could, because Belkin has stopped selling the model in question, telling GadgetGuy earlier in the year that “this is now an obsolete product, and while some may still be in market, we currently don’t have any plans to refresh this item”.
So you can’t buy the accessory for your fridge that supports a tablet you can’t buy anymore.