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Microsoft Helps Develop Smart, IoT-Enabled Refrigerators (microsoft.com) 178

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Promising "intelligent food management" to help with shopping and meal planning, Microsoft is collaborating with household appliance manufacturer Liebherr to develop a refrigerator where stored groceries "can be monitored using internal cameras." The refrigerators will use Microsoft's object recognition technology to create a list of your groceries -- with photos -- accessible via an an Android or iOS app (or a Windows device).

"Microsoft is providing computer vision capability as part of this collaboration," says their web page, citing the deep-learning technology underlying the Microsoft Cognitive Services Computer Vision API, released in Microsoft's open source Computational Network Toolkit. "Using the deep learning algorithms contained within CNTK, Microsoft data scientists worked with Liebherr to build a new image processing system to detect specific food products present inside a Liebherr refrigerator..."

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Microsoft Helps Develop Smart, IoT-Enabled Refrigerators

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  • by tal_mud ( 303383 ) on Monday September 05, 2016 @02:53AM (#52827935)

    If I installed this on my fridge I would use the app when I went to the pharmacy. That way I could check up on which antibiotics where already growing in my fridge.

    • I'd use it to see how much open sauce there is in my fridge.

    • Technology like this could enable men to find the barbecue sauce even if it were behind something else on the shelf. I predict a significant increase in the birth rate.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Japanese fridges already kinda do this. I think it was Sharp that introduced it. When they detect mould growing a light comes on, and the newer models connect to wi-fi and talk to a phone app.

      The good news is that from memory they only operate on your LAN, not via the net.

      • Japanese fridges already kinda do this. I think it was Sharp that introduced it. When they detect mould growing a light comes on, and the newer models connect to wi-fi and talk to a phone app.

        The good news is that from memory they only operate on your LAN, not via the net.

        Great- so not only will someone be able to hack my fridge- they'll be able to laugh at all the mold I've got growing too!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 05, 2016 @02:54AM (#52827943)

    .. designed to get people more used to having cameras and other sensory equipment all around them.

    • While the chances of them being able to SEE more than 15% of the contents of my fridge around, you know, all the other stuff in it, no matter how many cameras there are....

      I can see a great opportunity to livestream the constant evolution of internal lifeforms as a new reality TV show - their daily trials and tribulations, the constant ebb and flow of bacterial and viral battle.

      Just dont ever open the door - never ever open the door. I tried that once. ONCE.

    • designed to get people more used to having cameras and other sensory equipment all around them

      Exactly, precisely this. Why the actual FUCK do you need cameras in your gods-be-damned refrigerator in the first place, and why the actual FUCK does it need to be connected to the Internet at all in the first place? This is more stupid, trendy, useless so-called 'internet of things' crap that has no real useful purpose -- except maybe as previously stated, to put more gods-be-damned surveillance in our lives. What's next? IoT toilet, that monitors your pooping? Sends directly to your doctor? TO HELL WITH T

      • by bjwest ( 14070 )
        Holly mother of god DUDE! WTF is wrong with you?? Don't you know if we don't IaTT [medium.com] right fucking now, we might as well start slinging clubs and dancing around the campfire again. CHRIST! What the actual FUCK is wrong with you?!? IoT, dude it's the fucking Internet of THINGS. Fucking THINGS ON THE INTERNET!!!
      • by Wolfrider ( 856 )

        --Oh, for mod points today... +2

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Monday September 05, 2016 @02:59AM (#52827949)

    A solution in search of a problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rrohbeck ( 944847 )

      The problem is lack of business for MS, the solution is clearly a fridge that you have to pay SW licenses for.

      • The thing is the IoT world has plenty of business for MS, especially in industrial and business-to-business settings which pay far higher license fees than any shit screen glued to a fridge door ever wood.

        I just really don't understand this announcement. By all other accounts MS was a serious IoT company and now they pull this we have a lightbulb you can change colour from the internet garbage. For shame!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually there is one feature that looks handy: the camera. I've often been at the supermarket and thought "hang on, do I need milk/eggs/whatever?" The rest though? Meh. And I'm not cool with paying more that $50 or so extra for the camera either.

      • by dohzer ( 867770 )

        How about just buying it and using it twice if you already had it?
        Or do you have to cook every meal to a recipe in a weekly plan?

      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        Your milk and egg cartons are transparent? You keep paper towels and canned goods and spices in the fridge?

      • by bjwest ( 14070 )
        This is why I use OurGroceries (not affiliated in any way, just love the app) and add things as I need them.
    • Problem: how do we get more data to sell and lock in our customers to buying our products?

      Solution: smart devices!

    • It would also work much better if RFID tags were embedded in food packaging.

      • And the next step from there is "it would work much better if RFID tags were embedded in people."

        Though they already can track you by the chip in your pet ... your passport ... the tag hidden in your Nikes that was personalized at the checkout counter when you bought them ...

      • What about the stuff from the pick your own, or the local farmer's market?

        I agree this looks like a terrible way to go about this 'problem', but there are lots of likewise terrible ideas looking for this 'problem'.


    • You obviously cannot see problems but let me illuminate you by suggestion what the features of a smart fridge are.

      Facebook status updates; We're run out of tomatoes!

      Twitter feedback; After 2 hours of refrigeration we have discarded your new product because it sucks!

      Family alerts (via facebook); We've run out of tomatoes!!

      Intrusion detection; "Toddler attempting to open fridge door. Deploying countermeasures!"

      MaaS (Maintenance as a Service; Fridge printer ink running low, please consider replacemen
      • You obviously cannot see problems but let me illuminate you by suggestion what the features of a smart fridge are. Facebook status updates; We're run out of tomatoes!

        You forgot the most obvious one:

        A Windows 10 refrigerator edition update screws up your compressor driver and the fridge blue doors and spoils all your food, then Slashdot shills call you an idiot because you weren't running the thing in VM mode.

    • The problem is insurance companies don't know enough about your diet and lifestyle. This allows them to know.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Indeed. Most IoT stuff, like his fridge, are really stupid. Like the IoT kitchen stove you can turn on with your phone... WTF??? You DON'T want the stove on when you're not home!

      Adjust the A/C with a phone? What, you're too damned lazy to walk across the room? Stupid! If I can turn off the heat with my phone, so can the FSB.

      I may have to buy a TV even though the one I have works perfectly fine, because it may not be long before you can no longer buy a dumb TV.

      It's bad enough that my computers and phone are

    • A solution in search of a problem.

      Indeed. An unwanted solution in search of a non-existent problem.

      "The refrigerators will use Microsoft's object recognition technology to create a list of your groceries..."

      Great...I can't wait to pay thousands of dollars for Microsoft to do what I've happily been doing for years with a pencil and paper.

    • Not entirely. If combined with heat storage, a smart refrigerator could take advantage of time-of-day pricing where available.
      • It will be a smart refrigerator but you'll have to leave the door open because the camera won't work without the light.

  • Sounds like a solution in search of a problem to solve. What's wrong with a note pad and a pen on the fridge's door? That's what I've been using since DARPANET.

  • by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Monday September 05, 2016 @03:03AM (#52827963)

    Health insurance goes up because you're not eating healthy enough, police have free access to all these cameras to make sure no one's storing drugs in their fridge etc.

    Because writing 'Milk' on a list when you take the last carton of milk is such a daunting task!

  • Good (Score:5, Funny)

    by thinkwaitfast ( 4150389 ) on Monday September 05, 2016 @03:13AM (#52827989)
    I really need one of these
  • by ctrl-alt-canc ( 977108 ) on Monday September 05, 2016 @03:27AM (#52828045)
    "Your fridge cannot recognize the ice cream you installed. (R)eboot fridge or (M)elt the ice cream ?"

    "Your fridge is 99% full. You can make more space with the Fridge Cleanup Tool. Proceeed ? (Y/N)"

    and at the very end:

    "I am sorry Dave, you should not eat this."
    "Open the fridge door, HAL!"
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      There are some high tech features in a fridge that I'd like, but only one requires any kind of network access. That is, the fridge should be smart about when it uses electricity, both to avoid peak time loads if possible and to save me money by using cheap power.

      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        Where's my fridge? [slashdot.org] How about not running the compressor when it's well below freezing outside? How about venting the heat outside instead of into the kitchen when it's sweltering outside?

    • "Your fridge is 99% full. You can make more space with the Fridge Cleanup Tool. Proceeed ? (Y/N)"

      Shuddup and take my money. Actually take my girlfriend's money, she's the one with 5 year old leftovers that greet me when I open the fridge door. I had a complete conversation with it the other day.

  • This would be much easier to do if all the items purchased in a supermarket had some kind of machine-readable label that linked to a database holding the product information and price...

    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      This would be much easier to do if all the items purchased in a supermarket had some kind of machine-readable label that linked to a database holding the product information and price...

      You mean like a bar code that they could scan at the checkout?

      • I think you just got the joke. The problem is though that not everything, specifically fresh fruit and veg have barcodes.

        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          And often the bar codes are on the bottom of the container (e.g., twelve packs of beer).

          Dumb idea. And when Microsoft stops security updates when your fridge is only nine years old?

          WTF are these idiots thinking?

  • More and more I get the feeling, to want smart appliances you gotta be rather dumb yourself.

  • by johnlcallaway ( 165670 ) on Monday September 05, 2016 @06:00AM (#52828395)

    Ok .. they don't have image detection. But they do already have a fridge that has a camera to see the inside and a neat Android interface. My wife and I played with one at a local store recently and it was kinda neat. It had a nice whiteboard function to leave notes, supported streaming video and supposedly interfaced with the SmartTVs, although I'm not sure of the functionality. Since it appears to use Android, it was pretty intuitive to us. I don't think it would be to people who haven't used Android phones though.

    I don't know how useful image detection will be without several cameras in the back and side of each shelf. But it was interesting to be able to see very clearly what was inside without opening the door. I wonder if the energy cost of the TV screen and computer hardware will outweigh the savings of not opening the door as often or as long.

    It wasn't worth to me the extra $2K more a comparable fridge costs. It might be to people with more disposable income than I have.

    • by NotAPK ( 4529127 )

      "I wonder if the energy cost of the TV screen and computer hardware will outweigh the savings of not opening the door as often or as long."

      I'm not sure, the heat capacity of air is pretty low.

      Assuming temp in the room is 25C and the air inside the fridge is at 4C we need to know the volume of air lost during each door opening, the difference in energy content of said air between 25C and 4C, and the efficiency of the refrigerator cooling circuit to remove that energy.

      The volume of a standard fridge is about

      • I decided to not worry much about the energy loss when opening the door : wouldn't refreshing the air a bit be healthy, anyway?
        Is there an amount of cycling the air recommended to fend off odors and unwanted life? Do high end fridges cycle the air on their own?

    • That sounds neat and all, but I'm at a loss as to what use streaming video on a fridge would be. Our connecting to a tv, smart or otherwise.

      • That sounds neat and all, but I'm at a loss as to what use streaming video on a fridge would be. Our connecting to a tv, smart or otherwise.

        You can bet that if Kim Cardassian's Refrigerator is streaming video from inside, some tools will be watching it. Probably become a new reality series.

    • LG has shown a Windows 10 fridge, running on a low end x86 PC. Your Samsung fridge seems a lot of fun and niceties from the read while I'm sure most people will turn away from the Metro apps and Windows store, if only instinctively. But I really hate to be the guy that breaks the fun :), so as to point out the Android fridge's near term future is dubious, whereas the Windows fridge is promised security updates till 2025, subject to extension if an OS upgrade occurs or if MS has another moment of "shit, if w

  • What brands do you use? Microsoft will feed you coupons, readable with your smartphone, or sent directly to your smartphone, to save you money on whatever companies overpriced products are paying them to send you ads with coupons. If you think a "smart" fridge is for your benefit, think again.
    • No, nobody will buy these so Microsoft will have to pay you to use the product along with their "focused advertising"

  • Because we're not smart enough to keep track of what we have in our own fridge. What a waste.
  • This is just another egregious data harvesting attempt by Microsoft. Not being satisfied with scooping up data from our computers, Microsoft is now looking to look inside our appliances to see what we eat, what clothes we wash, etc.
    .
  • So-called "smart" TVs push ads, track usage and after a few years start to go bitrotten as apps and services become discontinued. So-called "smart" watches are tied to proprietary services, can't last more than a few days on a charge and are obsolete in a few years. A "smart" fridge will be no different in this regard - you'll pay a premium for something that spies on you, will discontinue service after a few years and then display a bunch of error messages.

    Meanwhile their supposedly dumb counterparts car

  • Typical Microsoft --- features first, security as an afterthought.
  • I suppose their intent is that this fridge will be able to manage supplies and demands the same way that my mother so effortlessly and effectively managed our ice box and pantry in our very dynamic household when I was a kid. She had learned her stuff from my grandmother and added a few tricks and neat solutions to the repertoire, doing all of it everyday in her head and without blinking an eyelash in the face of last-minute changes in the number of chairs around the table and last-minute confessions to th
  • What is this, the third time someone tries this? Last time we used to joke about Internet-connected toasters and fridges was around late 90s and the dotcom boom? Then again in the mid-2000s?

    While I do believe that tracking your food intake can be beneficial, I am not sure this particular implementation will be for the benefit of the consumer. Regardless, computer vision seems a bit overkill for this. A smartphone app with barcode reader and a small scale should be enough, the trick is getting it streamlined

  • 1. It will crash and your food will spoil.
    2. You will get calls requesting your SSN and bank details from people with Indian and Russian accents saying they are from Microsoft support and you have a virus.
    3. You will need to double click on the door handle to open it.
    4. You will have to pay $300 a year to subscribe to fresh food.
    5. The camera will send pictures of you in your underwear at 2 AM to Microsoft for quality improvement.
    6. You will need to subscribe to virus protection for your refrigerator.

  • Now you won't only see the blue screen of death on ATM machines and airport display boards, you can see it on your own 'fridge. And there will be a blue film of death on all your rotting vegetables. #badidea

  • They mounted a very large tablet on a Refrigarator. The really crazy part is that because of "innovative features " like ice dispensers and water chillers the 1940's refrigerators were actually more energy efficent then the modern ones. Putting a power hungry giant screen on it is one way to continue driving down energy efficency

  • IDIOT == Insecurely Designed Internet Of Things

    Spread the meme.

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman

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