One of the greatest technology myths of the last decade has been that smart fridges will take off. And they're still at it - this week, LG launched the Smart Manager fridge at the big CES technology fair in Las Vegas. It is to go on sale in the UK this year, priced around £2,000 and has an LCD touchscreen, camera and internet connection which allows it to download recipes and link to online shopping services such as Ocado.
The idea is that one manages food shopping by scanning the barcodes of items, or a shopping receipt, with a scanner on the fridge door, or by describing the item via voice recognition technology. The fridge's computer can monitor its contents and automatically add food to a user's online shopping account when stocks are running low. It can even suggest recipes based on the ingredients you've got left and once a recipe is chosen, the fridge can switch on the oven to the correct temperature and set a timer via a wireless connection. The screen on the door then tells the cook exactly what to do. That's the latest smart fridge.
Idiot fridge, more like.
The only technology that will survive the furnace of the global market is intuitive technology. There's a reason why Sky Plus killed off the video - there was nothing intuitive about programming a video. You had to consult the manual every time. And there's a reason why one of the biggest-selling phones on Amazon has been designed for the elderly/visually impaired. It has buttons the size of ciabatta rolls and a handset that looks like it was manufactured by Fisher Price. Even my two-year-old can use it. Actually, that's not a good thing.
Truth is, no one wants to communicate with their fridge. No one wants the obligation of keeping their fridge informed unless they're seriously short on inter-personal relationships. You want to open your fridge to get the milk, preferably while chatting to someone else or listening to the radio. You don't want to scan its barcode or let it know that you're thinking about cooking with smoked haddock next Tuesday. And as for beaming straight to Ocado - who wants to liaise with the fridge about delivery times? There's enough Ocado bickering in our house as it is.
This machine won't make life easier: it'll make it more annoying, like the mobile phone instruction booklet, still lying in the Nokia box on my desk, with instructions on how to download a program so that my phone can communicate with my computer and back up its contacts. I'd rather chew my own arm off than undertake this task, which probably means I'm due to lose my phone sometime soon. And I'd rather walk to the local Tesco Metro than communicate with my fridge.
Any other over-complicated home gadgets driving you nuts? Post your comments here
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