The Smart Refrigerator
The current refrigator interface contains many flaws that could be improved apon and expanded.
- You can't see everything in your refrigator at a glance. You thought you had bought hot sauce, but you don't see it anywhere.
- You can't remember when you bought something. When exactly did you put that Chinese takeout in there? How old is that leftover meatloaf?
- You can't remember if you are out of something or not, or if you are running low. Perhaps you do remember, but your roommate was inconsiderate and used all your milk for her cereal and didn't tell you.
- You bought groceries for a recipe, but you bought extra and now you have left over ingredients and don't how what to do with them.
- You roommate is drinking all your beer and not replacing it. You want to keep it out of his reach. The "don't drink me" note is not working.
The Smart Refrigerator can solve all these problems and more. The Smart Refrigator uses RFID technology and image processing to be aware of what products are put inside it and a LCD panel for display and interaction with the user.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is an automatic identification method, relying on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders. An RFID tag is an object that can be attached to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification using radio waves. Chip-based RFID tags contain silicon chips and antennae. Passive tags require no internal power source, whereas active tags require a power source.
The Smart Refrigerator maintains a database of what is currently inside the refrigerator, which can be used put to use in a variety of ways. The Smart refrigator will have an LCD display with a tabbed interface which a user will use to interact with the refrigerator.
The Smart Refrigerator will "know" what's inside from RFID, but there will be certain items that don't have tags that the user will have to enter manually. For example, you pick up a bag of apples from the farmer's market. You select the scan tab and do an incremental search to find the item you want to enter. The keypad is not shown. Also there will be an option for quanity. The other option is just to go to the fruit and vegetable tab where there will be pictures of fruits and vegetables sort aphabetically. All you would have to do is select the image of the apple.
Based the contents on your refrigerator, the Smart Refrigator will be able to make recipe suggestions.
The Smart Refrigator will be able to know if you are running low on certain items and be able to prepopulate a shopping list for you.
The stock tab will let you be able to see what;s inside your refrigerator with looking inside. The interface will be similar to the scan interface. You can browse what is inside the refrigator based on the categories or the incremental search. Only items that are actually in the refrigerator will be returned from the search or displayed the various categories. There will be also an indicator will the product is about to expire or is expired.
The Smart Refrigerator will be connected wirelessly to the network connection in your household. There will be software that comes with the refrigerator that allows for deeper customization than the tabbed interface on the refrigerator allows. For example, the frigerator could be connected to Fresh Direct and prepopulate your shopping list. You could also add widgets and photos to the refrigerator. The weather could always be displayed, or family photos.
You could also access your refrigerator from the office or from a handheld device. If you are at the market and wondering what to make for dinner or if you have milk, the Smart Refrigerator will be able to tell you.