The Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator - the heart of the home
The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home, but with the unveiling of their latest kitchen appliance, launched at CES in Las Vegas earlier this month, Samsung are seeking to position the refrigerator as the hub of the home. The new Samsung Family Hub is a fridge that is much more than just a fridge. It's basically a food management system, a family communication tool and an entertainment hub too.
If you've heard talk of futuristic refrigerators that will connect to your smartphone, be able to check the contents of your fridge and re-order supplies for you, and thought that they were either a) still some way off, or b) probably not something you'd ever consider, then the Samsung Family hub may just make you think again.
Why might you buy one? Well if you've ever stood in the milk aisle at the supermarket wondering if you still have any milk left in the fridge at home, you'll begin to understand the appeal. Two internal cameras capture an image of the contents of the fridge every time the door closes. These images can then be accessed via your smartphone so that you can check what you already have in the fridge and avoid buying duplicate items.
A sophisticated multi-tasking home appliance with a compelling range of features, the Samsung Family Hub is designed to help you manage what's in your fridge and shop for supplies as and when you need them, while at the same time connecting you to other members of your family, allowing you to share pictures and messages with them and helping you organise tasks and appointments. Oh, and you can listen to music or watch TV on it too. It will even mirror your Samsung Smart TV, if you have one, so you can continue watching your favourite programme while cooking dinner.
Most of us probably know Samsung best for their TVs and mobile phones, but they are also one of the fastest growing brands in the home appliances sector. This latest release is part of Samsung's ongoing commitment to developing a range of smart IoT (Internet of Things) enabled home appliances. Central to the Samsung vision is the idea that these products should be easy to use and and in sync with people's lives, rather than merely seeking to show off the latest technology.
So the refrigerator is no longer simply an appliance used for food storage. Instead it becomes a device that is at the heart of the home and used for family communication and entertainment too. All of this is delivered via a large 21.5 inch touchscreen located on the upper right door of the Samsung Family Hub. Rather that covering your fridge with post-it notes, or scribbling messages on a kitchen calendar or blackboard, you can now use the Sticki app, which can be updated via your smartphone, to check the family's schedule and see what everyone is up to. It's not difficult to see how useful this might be, particularly in large, busy households where people are often coming and going at different times during the day. You can use the touchscreen to draw pictures, write personal messages for your loved ones or share pictures too.
As well as allowing you to check the contents of your fridge remotely from your smartphone, the Family Hub refrigerator also features an online shopping app that will allow you to easily top up on the items you need. There's no word as yet on which UK food retailers Samsung will be partnering with, but watch this space.
The Family Hub refrigerator is expected to be available from Spring 2016. As a design that sets the standard for this new type of appliance, it will sit towards the upper end of price bracket, and given its size may not suit those with smaller kitchens, but its easy to see how the features it incorporates might soon become widely adopted on other models.
Finally, a word on another home appliance presented by Samsung at CES. The AddWash washing machine features an extra door that allows you to pause a wash mid-cycle and pop in any forgotten items, or add extra detergent or fabric softener. I am forever discovering stray socks at the bottom of the laundry basket, so this strikes me as a good example of how thoughtful design can be used to solve annoying little every day niggles, and help make our busy lives run just that little bit more smoothly.
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Design Hunter is a brand ambassador for Samsung Home Appliances and this post is published in collaboration with Samsung.