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Samsung Smart Fridge Harmonizes With Amazon Echo’s Alexa

Answering the question of “What is the coolest thing at CES,” Samsung is certainly a top contender with its Family Hub refrigerator, arguably the smartest, most technology-packed cooler ever created and possibly the most technology-packed home device ever contrived.

Most obvious is the fridge’s 21.5-inch, 1,920 by 1,080p Gorilla Glass-protected touchscreen on the right-hand French door, which serves three functions:

• family connections, via a family calendar and message center;
• food management, with a shopping list and recipe functions; and
• entertainment, via traditional tablet PC complete with streaming music and smart TV mirroring so you can be in the kitchen but still watch the TV in the living room.

We’d say that these capabilities and technologies merely scratch the surface of what this Wi-Fi/ Bluetooth fridge can do, but this is a stainless steel appliance, so scratching is a no-no.

In addition to the touchscreen, the fridge comes embedded with Amazon’s Alexa voice capabilities and/or can pair with an existing Amazon Echo. The unit will be integrated with Samsung’s SmartThings platform “later,” the company said, and can be operated and monitored via Samsung’s forthcoming iOS and Android home appliance app, due to be released simultaneously with fridge.

Samsung has partnered with the start-up Sticki to sync family member calendars, including Google Calendar and Apple iCal, with the fridge’s onscreen calendar. There’ll be a memo function – and notes can be scrawled with a finger or a stylus (to come), and the screen can have photos pushed to it. A USB jack atop the fridge enables consumers to load photos or videos into the fridge, which includes 5GB of memory expandable to 64GB.

The fridge includes speakers or can be paired with external Bluetooth speakers, and the touchscreen includes Amazon Music and Pandora streaming-music apps.

A proximity sensor triggers the screen, but users can set a screen sleep timer and a screen saver.

Inside the fridge are two fish-eye cameras that snap a photo of the contents each time the door closes. These photos will be viewable on the Samsung smart app so consumers can see what consumables they need to refresh while at the supermarket. The app also features Instacart, described as the GrubHub of grocery shopping, so shopping can be done from anywhere, not just a store.

As a fridge, the standard-depth model offers 28 cubic feet of capacity while the counter-depth version provides 22 cubic feet, and both are equipped with Samsung’s standard triple cooling system that uses two compressors, three evaporators and a network of sensors.

The unit also incorporates Samsung’s FlexZone feature, which allows the lower left compartment to double as a freezer or a fridge (and everything in between) via four customizable temperature settings: frozen, soft freeze, chill and cool.

The Family Hub fridge is due the second week of May and will carry a suggested retail of $5,999.