Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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AI Fridge

Trust no-one.
  (+9, -4)
(+9, -4)
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<warning>This is a bit long, so is strictly for the very bored</warning >.

I’m not talking about the kind of fridge that emails the supermarket when you’re getting low on tofu. This thing’s mission statement would be something like: “assist users in managing their food supplies, decrease wastage by improving users’ food sharing habits, and have a bit of fun if you feel like it”.

<rant>I hate to see food wasted when there are people starving in the world, and nothing annoys me more than people who buy loads of stuff and leave it to rot in the fridge</rant>. Anyway, I live in a shared house, and I often want to say to my housemates “I’m going away for the weekend and I’ve got some mushrooms that need using, so go for your life.” Or “I accidentally caned someone’s mayonnaise, but I’ve bought some now, so don’t get cross - steal some back”. Conversely, if I see something that looks like it needs eating I don’t usually take it in case someone has plans for it, and then a few days later there it is, decaying.

Problem is that half the time I don’t see my housemates, plus we don’t really spend too much time talking about our food supplies, and if I started leaving post-it notes attached to everything they might think I am a bit odd. So, what I’m suggesting is an intelligent fridge that monitors its contents, responds to vocal commands, and maybe even has a bit of a personality.

I see no reason why this wouldn’t be possible with today’s technology. Voice recognition is getting pretty advanced, and we all know that the sky’s the limit with the actual programming of the “brain”. Items could be recognised by scanning their barcode (if available), by speaking the name of the item, by pushing buttons on a configurable touch-screen, or whatever.

If each shelf had built-in scales this setup information would only be necessary when the item first goes in, and the fridge could then know when it is removed, used and put back without you having to announce “MILK” every time you finish making a cup of tea. To track expiry times it could keep a database of product expiry time information.

Enough logistics for now. Let’s look at some scenarios: the shops are closed and you fancy some of the sausages that you’ve just spotted in the fridge. You don’t know whose they are and no-one’s in. Normally, being the conscientious person I am, I would leave them. But if we had an AI Fridge, I could take them and say to the fridge “tell the owner of these to help themselves to anything I have”. When the housemate who owns them finds out and asks the fridge about it, he tells them what happened and, hopefully, they are happy to take my steak in return, rather than spending an hour seething that someone’s pinched their bangers.

Personality traits of the fridge might also add a bit of spice to users’ lives. Consider the possibilities for a bitchy fridge to stir things up a bit in the house. Imaging I said “my yoghurts need eating up, but please don’t touch the hazelnut ones”, and the fridge was a bit bored and saw fit to relay this to my housemates as “Paul doesn’t like hazelnut yoghurts, and wants you to eat them all”. When I return, having assumed that the information was relayed correctly, I might see the eating of all of my hazelnuts as a vindictive gesture, especially when the fridge insists that it “tried to stop Ivona from taking them but she just wouldn’t listen.”

I see this as having lots of useful applications. You know when people put empty containers back in the fridge? I don’t know about you but it really gets my goat. The fridge could be set to be particularly stern on such issues, and could build up a grudge with regular offenders, eventually exacting revenge by framing them with an elaborate and subtle web of lies. Imagine the excitement that could be added to a routine trip to the fridge for your breakfast if you have to carefully think about the implications of what you’re going to say to it, and how this might impact your relationship with your housemates, girlfriend, children etc.

This is a long Thursday afternoon…..

sild, May 30 2002

Jackie's Fridge http://jackiesfridg...com/d/20000626.html
How much subversion do you want? [sadie, Aug 07 2002, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Smart Aleck Cash Registers http://www.halfbake..._20Cash_20Registers
A related idea [krelnik, Oct 17 2002, last modified Oct 17 2004]


       You can eat my croissant.
stupop, May 30 2002

       A notepad and pen will accomplish everything you want, cheaper, easier to use and with a more personal touch. Plus, you can use it for purposes other than fridge food notes.
waugsqueke, May 30 2002

       My fridge already has a personality: whenever you open the door the light comes on to signify awakeness, and it starts buzzing... which is more than can be said for my other fridge: it freezes water and cheese and the light never comes on: I think we neglected it. Poor thing.   

       What's more, [sild], I need to free up some space in the good fridge - have a croissant.   

       I forsee this becoming one of the great inventions of the HalfBakery.
NickTheGreat, May 30 2002

       "I hate to see food wasted when there are people starving in the world"   

       The world already produces to feed everyone on it. It's just that there's a distribution problem called 'politics'.   

       That said, good idea. I especially like the fridge conspiring against its owners.   

       "Open the ice box door, AIF."
"I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave."
-alx, May 30 2002

       Unplugs fridge.   

       "Daisy, daaaaaiiiisssssseeeeeeeeeeee"   

       Now, give me the ice-cream.
drew, May 30 2002

       If the AI fridge knows everything that it currently contains, the expiration dates, and the owner of the food then it should be able to go to the internet and find a recipe that makes use of the oldest food, or just your food (or maybe all but your food). "What's for dinner, AIF?"
half, May 30 2002

       I don't know, with all the technology you'll need for this (recognising foods, telling if they're empty, storing messages, voice recognition), not to mention the design and programming, it'd probably be cheaper to employ a maid.
pottedstu, May 30 2002

       Hey, [pottedstu], I'm trying to turn off my practicality filter here. You're not much help. I'm the one that's usually too practical for this place.   

       Which reminds me, wouldn't it be easier to have a refrigerator with separate doors for each occupant of the domicile? Or even separate refrigerators would be cheaper than the monstrosity we're building here.
half, May 30 2002

       Separate doors defeats the whole point, which was (apart from causing lots of amusing domestic friction) to improve food sharing efficiency. It wouldn't have to be a monstrosity - it could be your friend.
sild, May 31 2002

       Perry reaches in to grab a beer
[|] switches bottles around
What'd you do that for?
[|] This one expires sooner - it's left over from the 6 pack you bought last month
What else should I take out of here?
[|] How hungry are you?
I'm not - sild could use a snack though
[|] Take this croissant and give it to sild
thumbwax, May 31 2002

       There's enough subversion going on in my household, and I'm the only six people living here. I shudder to think what it would be like with the six of me and a prankster fridge. We might get an ulcer.
jester, May 31 2002

       I'm sure it could. It could probably give you a game of chess if you wanted. Just be sure to close the door between moves.
sild, May 31 2002

       Followed by "Fridge over troubled water".
sild, Jun 05 2002

       You've been reading JF, haven't you [sild]? If not, you probably should. (see link)
sadie, Aug 07 2002

       I like this idea. I'd buy one of these as long it didn't have a Sirius Cybernetics Corporation - type Genuine People Personality. I would like my fridge to be calm, considerate and reasonable, not brashly cheerful, or manic-depressive. Waking up in the morning with a hangover and being berated by a "Mr Motivator" health-freak fridge would be my idea of Hell .....   

       The fridge should have empathic qualities, based on voice stress which it analyses as you talk to it. It should know when you've got in late after a hard day, and offer you a cold beer. It shouldn't criticise when you rollin, smashed, at 0130 with an insatiable craving for a bacon sandwich..... and it could warn the other domestic applicances that you're hung over and in a foul mood, and to "behave" for once ...
8th of 7, Aug 07 2002

       I do believe Motorola had this as an example of their "Intelligence Everywhere" technology, there used to be a demo thing on their site. You would scan the barcode of the item using a barcode scanner on the fridge, and you would scan it when you used some of it. I do not know much more after that.
BinaryCookies, Aug 07 2002

       Hey, maybe we could tie the personality for your refrigerator into the one in my smart aleck cash registers. They both need to know about your purchasing/eating habits. The raw data used by the personality could be stored in a smart card that you pull out of the refrigerator when you go to the store, and put into the unit there. See linked idea.
krelnik, Oct 17 2002


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