Sunday, January 25, 2009

I dream of a SMART Fridge

Every fifteen days or so either K or I undertake the Big Fridge Exploratory Tour. It is a multi-hued adventure to say the least. On an average, we find at least 5 boxes of “Stuff” that have changed shape and/or form and needs to be trashed. 

The usual suspects are fungified tomato puree, slimized dough for chapattis, a carton of cream that’s about to burst and spray its contents all over everything else because of the gas gathering inside, half a boiled potato in a cute little container that was saved with the intention of making a quick after work chutney sandwich that got pushed to the back and has now turned ickily gooey. I am sure you get the picture and are well aware of what I am talking about.

/* Side note: If I was a super-mean human being,  I’d post a picture of any one of the gross things listed above and make you not feel like eating anything for the next few hours. But I am not- so you can continue planning your next meal. End Side note */

So in my SMART Kitchen, the fridge would never subject me to the horrors it subjects me to currently. Yes-one could argue- it is not the fridge’s fault. It is those who don’t really take good care of what’s inside’s fault. But we are not going to try to find someone to lay the blame on. Enough of it happens at work already. =:>)

So let’s figure out what the SMART kitchen’s super SMART Fridge would do for me. Here is a list of what I want it to do:

  1. As soon as an item is being put in the fridge, it tags the item ( using RFID technology and User Input )and stores the following information:
    1. Name
    2. Quantity
    3. Origin
    4. Potential expiry date
    5. Calorific Value

This information is available both locally at the fridge and on-line for user to browse through to plan the menu.

One may wonder about the need for storing item’s origin. It is a necessity when you start looking at leftovers like three slices large green pepper and jalapeno pan style pizza from Pizza Hut versus Papa John’s. If it’s from the HUT- there is always a jalapeno overload, so there is absolutely no need to get the Tabasco sauce out when reheating for a meal. However the good folks at Papa John’s believe in a distribution of about 3 little jalapeno rounds per slice and without the extra hot sauce- it isn’t really hot enough for a true blue heat lover like me. So origin is important. 

  1. As the expiry date of the food gets closer the fridge will try to reach its users by sending a message and posting a message about expiring food on the home message board. The message will highlight the items expiring soon and present viable recipe options categorized by taste category, effort required in getting it to the table, and calorific value. The recipe ideas will also make use of the items available in the SMART Pantry. (More about the Smart pantry in a later post.)  
  1. If a food has expired, the fridge will trash it and if the food container is recyclable- send it to the recycle bin, otherwise set it in the SMART Dishwasher (More about the Smart pantry in a later post.) A user override is available to disable trashing of specific foods (in my opinion, if one was glutton for punishment- and wanted to see the sliminess periodically, one could do this.)  
  1. The fridge also has the ability to organize food items into user requested groups. Some ideas for grouping foods are the state of food (eg: raw- almost cooked- ready to eat), cuisine type, nutrition category (mainly proteins, mainly carbs etc). And if I was serious about watching my weight, I could request the fridge to only show me food that’s good for me. As a result, the left over slices of pizza will no longer be either visible or accessible to me.  (I just read this food policing by the fridge idea out to K and now guess what’s for dinner- Four Cheese Pizza!)

 What do you think of the smart fridge?

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