Gizmo Geek: Smart refrigerators- The brainiest of them all
Artificial intelligence is, of course, key to this ever-increasing versatility of the Internet of Things and refrigerators haven’t gone untouched

As the sun around which the entire household revolves, being as it is the receptacle of food or ingredients that get turned into food, the refrigerator is the one appliance you’d pick to be boss. So to imagine a smart home without a smart fridge is quite incongruous. But then, what exactly does an intelligent fridge do? Well, keeping track of groceries, sending reminders about daily activities, suggesting recipes and relaying the news, suggesting recipes, mirroring TV screens, monitoring other smart appliances…is that quite enough? It is said that some can even make coffee.

Smart fridges have, of course, been around for a while and the big names continue to jostle for space in this segment. The result is that every year fridges—and other appliances—seem to get just that bit smarter. Sure enough, 2018 has seen its share of both new entrants and old models getting a new coat of spit and polish.

Artificial intelligence is, of course, key to this ever-increasing versatility of the Internet of Things and refrigerators haven’t gone untouched. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January this year (which is where most tech almost ready to be unleashed upon the world is usually unveiled), LG presented its AI platform ThinQ, which works with Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands. No surprises, then, that LG’s InstaView smart fridge got an upgrade, becoming the InstaView ThinQ Refrigerator, and able to work as a team with other household appliances on the ThinQ network.

The InstaView fridge has all the usual features, like virtual tagging of contents, creating shopping lists and shopping online, weather updates, calendar management, playing music and so on. It gets its name from the 29-inch HD touch-screen on the door, which turns into a transparent panel on a double-tap to let you see what’s inside. LG seem to have missed their Q3 release date for the ThinQ refrigerator and a price is yet to be announced, but one expects it will be $4,000-plus.

Whirlpool seems to have borrowed some of the best features from competitors and yet kept a lid on overwhelming their new smart fridge with too many bells and whistles. It comes in a striking golden-bronze and has a touch-screen is about the size of a smartphone (as opposed to the giant screens of most others). It features an Amazon Dash for easy ordering of groceries, door-within-a-door, and various cooking-specific features. It can also suspend cooling and shut off the door alarm during cleaning. Not bad, right? All of this for $4,400, available in the US only.

Finally, no showcase of smart fridges is going to be complete without the mention of Samsung’s Family Hub—a series that is actually available in India. The new models have a spruced up AI to plays well with other appliances on Samsung’s platform. The fridge can also mirror a smart TV on its surface. Grocery shopping and recipe suggestions also show improvements. There are a number of Family Hub models and expect to pay between Rs 2 and 3 lakhs for the fanciest of them. Diwali shopping, anyone?

Columnist: 
Payal Dhar