I can’t tell you how many times my wife and I have been away on vacation – walking down North Water Street in Edgartown, perhaps – when we’ve been nearly paralyzed by our inability to remember how much mayonnaise we left in the refrigerator back home.
Now, at last, technology has put our troubled minds at ease.
The new Family Hub refrigerator, introduced by Samsung at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, features internal cameras that snap two pictures of the contents every time you close the door.
The brilliance of this concept only begins with the fact there are two cameras instead of just one. With two angles, that almost-full bag of sauerkraut left over from the Fourth of July picnic can’t save itself by hiding behind the half-tub of margarine that no one will ever use.
No, my only criticism of the Family Hub, which will cost about $5,000 for which I can’t imagine a better use, is that it doesn’t yet go far enough in delivering an appliance that’s really a member of the family.
I will be disappointed, for instance, if Family Hub 2.0 doesn’t upgrade those still cameras to a 24/7 surveillance cam. Like a nanny-cam, only instead of monitoring the baby it monitors the celery. Let’s be honest: At a certain point in the day, that cold half-hamburger holds way more interest than whether the 2-year-old is playing with the stuffed penguin or the iPad.
No promises, but I’m thinking that if Samsung does this right, the refrigerator-cam could replace the fish channel as the video home feed on my iPhone.
“Honey, I’ve watching the orange juice for a while and I was just thinking, do you think we should move it a little closer to the half and half?”
I’m also looking forward to upgrades in the display screen that Samsung has planted on the front of the fridge. I mean, 21.5 inches is a good start, but why do we need any blank door at all? Make it all screen. Who wants to look at stainless steel when we could be looking at a Starbucks app?
Back in the Paleolithic era, Mom and Dad would tack the kids’ drawings on the fridge. Now they can bring everybody into the game and run a rolling display of everyone’s email, text, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat feeds.
I have to admit that one feature of the Family Hub does concern me, particularly if it is enhanced in future generations. Samsung says this new fridge can monitor our eating habits, which I have to say is the last thing we need.
With Mom and Dad’s admonitions, the general public push for healthier eating and those killjoy nutrition labels, we have already sucked way too much of the fun out of food. The last thing we need is to grab that last slice of coconut cream pie and have our fridge say, “Are you sure you need that?”
On the other hand, if that same voice can rat out the person who ate the last jar of olives. I’m okay with that.
But more than any of this, we have the vast potential of this new refrigerator to bring families together again.
Once upon a time we gathered around the piano to hear Grandpa and Grandma sing. Then we gathered around the radio. Then we gathered around the television set. Now we gather around our personal electronic devices and without Siri, we couldn’t name half our siblings.
Yet the refrigerator remains a constant. At some point every day, every member of the family goes there. If in the future the fridge can become not just the repository of food, but a media center, maybe, just maybe, families will gather and rediscover the true ties that bind, the true essence of family values.
And, thanks to those cameras, the true location of the leftover pizza.
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