Refrigerators are a great invention. Their strength – a well isolated cool environment – is also one of their weaknesses. You know one way to “clean up”? Get a big cupboard or drawer, throw all your stuff in there and close it. Case solved. Likewise, we close the door and are never really aware of problems with the fridge. We don’t notice all the time if the fridge light does not work, so we forget about replacing it. If we don’t think about it, we forget the food we put in there, and buy ready-made meals that we could have done with stuff that was already inside. And behind the fridge? Better not look, right?
This is Day 5 of the 180-Day Challenge “Become an Idea Machine“.
10 new technologies for smart fridges.
Here are my suggestions to utilize technology to put our refrigerators to better use.
#1 – Sugar Crust
You place your cocktail glass inside the fridge, then a laser scans the circumference of the glass and dispenses lemon juice and sugar around its rim. Cool cocktails with a great decoration.
#2 – A backside vacuum cleaner.
This may sound unexpected, but think about it. What if the fridge would suck off the dust that steadily settles behind it? We’d never need to move it to the side. We could have either an automatic broad sweep of the complete area behind the machine or a semi-automatic way. We could have a little video camera that monitors the back and a handle on the front with which we can move the vacuum hose. Maybe we could somehow utilize the heat emitted on the back to secondarily drive the motor of a vacuum cleaner? If you want to know how a vacuum cleaner works, here is an overview.
#3 – Food control
You type in when you bought the food or scan a bar code. Then you can reap several benefits, just based on a simple database inside the fridge computer (or via hooking up the computer to the internet). Get a little reminder on your computer or smart phone when the food is nearing expiration; suggesting foods that should not go inside the fridge or suggesting which foods should not be kept close to each other; vegetables don’t survive well in the presence of fruit, for example.
#4 – Suggesting recipes based on the food inside
That’s a little extension of app idea #7 from Day 2. If your fridge catalogs the food inside, it could make suggestions what to cook, with or without adding other ingredients. You never waste anything and always buy only the food you need – for delicious recipes you likely never thought about before!
#5 – Self-cleaning
The fridge could use supersonic emissions to pulverize any dirt. You would need to find a way to preserve your actual groceries. They have supersonic showers in Star Trek, so there must be a way!
#6 – Automatically moving food between freezer and fridge
Let’s say, you have frozen meat and want to start cooking it on a certain day of the week. I always forget to put the meat out on time. So maybe you can program your “steak-day” into the fridge computer, and the night before, the machine moves the steak automatically from the freezer into the fridge. Similarly, if some food is going to go bad and you still don’t heed the alarm introduced in #2 above, it would just move the food from fridge to freezer.
#7 – Supercooling liquids
That would make for cool effects. Sometimes there are no crystallization cores in a liquid, and then your water is below 0 ºC and still liquid. When you add a sugar crystal or shake the bottle, you supply a crystallization core, and the whole block becomes frozen. Maybe the freezer could scan for particles in the water and if there are any, destroy them with a localized supersonic burst as described in #5. As a result, you get supercooled liquid. You take a bottle of water out and shake it lightly – your water freezes. Or – you could supercool Marguerita cocktails, build your sugared rim with high precision within the fridge, as described in #7, and when you take the glass out, a few sugar molecules will fall into the glass – frozen Marguerita!
This video shows the principle of super-cooling water:
Imagine you take supercooled water out and while you pour the water into your drink, it freezes in midair!
#8 – Automated orders
This has been mentioned a lot before, and it still is a great idea. The fridge could detect what is missing or needs to be refreshed and makes an order by itself.
#9 – A 3D Ice Cream Printer
How about filling ice cream into a box connected to your freezer, the fridge melts it down (with the warmth emanating from the compressor) and a 3D printer forms a sculpture while the ice cream freezes again? If you spray liquid ice cream in a subzero environment, the small particles the printer emanates would freeze instantly, if they are small enough. So you can model your ice cream into any figure you want. A little rabbit or mouse for your kids, perfect ice spheres or maybe the shape of fruits? Like bananas out of banana ice cream, strawberries out of strawberry ice cream and so on.
#10 – Automated defrosting
This is a very practical problem: you have to defrost your freezer from time to time. What if the fridge or freezer could do that automatically? Using supersonic bursts as mentioned in #5 above, it could also blast away any ice crystals before they grow bigger. Defrosting a freezer manually is just atrocious.
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