Folks have long been using a hypothetical refrigerator to discuss the Internet of Things. A refrigerator that can send you an alert to your smartphone telling you to buy more milk, or juice, or whatever. A refrigerator of dreams meant more to illustrate the concept of the Internet of Things and how beneficial it can be rather than a real solution to the age-old problem of never knowing when you’re supposed to buy more milk.
It’s now safe to wake from those dreams, because the real things has finally arrived. No more need for hypothetical situations in which mythical refrigerators have WiFi, USB ports, and the capability of sending you reminders to buy groceries. That refrigerator is now a real thing.
FirstBuild is a collaboration between General Electric an Local Motors that is “dedicated to designing, engineering, building, and selling, the next generation of major home appliances”. It’s a place where designers, engineers, and anyone involved in the manufacturing process can come together and share ideas that will help create useful consumer products. It’s essentially a means of crowdsourcing home appliance designs.
One of the products that has come from FirstBuild is the long-anticipated refrigerator of lore, the almighty IoT capable smart fridge. The Chillhub was recently unveiled at the 10th annual Maker Faire Bay Area, an event that’s called “the greatest show and tell on earth”.
So what’s so special about this fridge? Well, unlike dumb refrigerators, this smart refrigerator has USB and WiFi capabilities. It also has 18 cubic feet of storage space and an iOS app that allows for sensor data and remote control.
The Chillhub will be able to integrate add-on components like a food scale, butter softener, deodorizer, a water pitcher that automatically refills itself, voice command, external speakers, and more.
This smart fridge is just one example of how IoT is changing manufacturing. Not only is the manufacturing process changing, but the products that are being manufactured are changing as well.