Today’s prompt and topic has to do with smart refrigerators, presumably since we’re moving toward an internet of things.
This is my least favorite topic so far. I don’t need a computer to tell me my food is spoiled or that I’m out of strawberries, but since I committed to doing this Idea Machine project and blogging about it here on The Ben Franklin Follies, I’ll play along.
Here are my 10 ideas for ways I would want to use a smart refrigerator or the technologies related to smart refrigerators that would be of interest to me:
1. Energy Usage: It would be interesting to have a tracking system to measure energy usage so I could tell if the refrigerator is more efficient when it’s full or less well stocked. Does it matter which shelf I place certain items on?
2. Suggested Menus: I suppose it would save a few minutes if the refrigerator could suggest healthy meal options based on what I have on hand.
3. Related to #2, while spitting out healthy meal options these could be ranked based on time to prepare, health benefits, etc.
4. Gamified Health Motivator App: Some type of app that connects to the refrigerator and awards points for good foot habits, while taking away points for missteps might be fun. This could be a bit challenging for families vs. single-person households. On the other hand, the technology exists to use retina-scanning or fingerprinting to log who is opening the refrigerator and removing food. Might hard to identify precise who is eating it, unless they are willing to do some type of data entry.
5. Related to #4, on a household basis families who are willing to waive privacy could be part of gamification promotions to receive discounts on certain food items based on points earned. I wouldn’t give up this privacy for coupons, but some people would.
6. A self-cleaning refrigerator would be nice.
7. Healthy Foods Game Show: This is an app build into the refrigerator. Here’s where I might be interested in playing a game. I love trivia quizzes, especially about meaningful topics and things I care about (like health, food, and history). The refrigerator could be designed so that moving a particular food item triggers a game show host voice (or Siri) asking you a health benefits question. Your participation could be tracked using retina scans or some bio-identifier like voice-recognition. You get points for correct answers. Winners get a trip to a spa or something serious like that. Resorts and travel companies could sponsor the contests and get publicity inside the refrigerator in exchange for the sponsorship.
8. Data Tracking for Health Research. Willing participants could agree to be research subjects in public health studies. Researchers could use the smart refrigerator to track data related to food purchases, food consumption, home food spoilage. This data would, perhaps, enable more effective health interventions through health communication campaigns.
9. Life Insurance Tracking. Big brother life insurance providers could use smart refrigerator data to track food purchases and rate insureds based on eating habits.
10. CSA Delivery Scheduling: On a more positive note, a smart refrigerator could connect with community gardens and CSA farms, even local food hubs, to allow for deliveries of CSA boxes.