Coming soon: Fridge of the future!

Imagine your home refrigerator cleaning itself and automatically re-ordering fresh food.

Updated: Dec 26, 2010, 15:21 PM IST

London: Imagine your home refrigerator
cleaning itself, offering up recipes depending on whether you
prefer something Italian or fancy a spicy curry, cutting down
on left-overs, and automatically re-ordering fresh food.

Well, your imagination may soon turn into a reality,
thanks to British researchers who claim to be designing such a
`fridge of the future` which could help you save precious time
in today`s hectic life.

According to them, the fridge of the future would be
able to automatically place supermarket home delivery orders
when required and move food near its use by date to the front
of the shelves, the `Daily Mail` reported.

In fact, a joint team from the University of Central
Lancashire and online supermarket Ocado are working hard to
make such a fridge available in the market.

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, say the researchers.

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 designers.

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, says the team.

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 that allow
a set number of ingredients to produce a large number of quite
different dishes.

"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."

PTI