Researchers hope the fridge could clean itself, cut down on wasted food and offer up recipes.
A fridge of the future that tells you what to cook with your left-overs and automatically re-orders fresh food is being designed in the UK.
The self-cleaning ‘fridge of the future’ will automatically place supermarket home delivery orders when required and move food near its use by date to the front of the shelves.
Researchers hope the fridge could clean itself, cut down on wasted food and offer up recipes – which could be tailored to different countries, cuisines and seasons depending on whether people want to whip up something Italian or fancy a curry.
With Brits putting in 36 million hours every year of free overtime – leaving little time for household chores – the fridge could help save precious time during hectic modern-day lives.
These new developments are in the pipeline thanks to collaborations between scientists at the University of Central Lancashire and online supermarket Ocado.
The planned new features include the ability for fridges to scan their shelves to see what is in stock and use this information to both plan meals and automatically place a supermarket food order – with Ocado saying they could be hooked up to their website making grocery requests even simpler.
The smart fridge will use ‘nano-articulated technology’ shelf surfaces which, whilst smooth to the touch, will have millions of independently controlled micro-tiles which will manoeuvre products which soon need to be eaten to the front of the fridge.
The fridge will also monitor gases released by degrading foods and push these to the front of its shelves, according to the collaborators.
Ultrasound-scanning technology built into the door will allow the fridge to ‘swipe and capture’ the food on a plate before and after mealtime, meaning it can assess what type and amount of food is wasted.
Similar technological advances in the kitchen bin, with its own management system, would allow it to be linked to the fridge giving a more accurate measure of how much and what kinds of food are thrown out rather than eaten.
The fridge of the future would then be able to cross reference and act on this data – reducing the ingredients used in future meal suggestions and helping to minimise food waste.
Dr Simon Somerville, a future forecasting expert from the University of Central Lancashire, said that someone feeling lazy could use the proposed fridge to whip up a recipe for them.
He said: ‘Cookbooks are essentially inventory lists of food items. To this end the most available information that the refrigerator will have is a set of permutations
‘The key concept in the successful implementation of this process is accurate inventory tracking.
Based on information contained within each menu, such as ‘this dish is typical to the north of Italy’, allows a menu selection based on geographical location – all the time the user choice is compared by the refrigerator to what it knows it holds.
‘If the specific item for a recipe is not present, the refrigerator might suggest a delayed option, which allows time for delivery, or possibly attempt to find or propose a passable alternative for the missing ingredient.’
Via Daily Mail