Adding a touchscreen to the door of a refrigerator isn't exactly a new idea, but what Samsung is doing with its new Family Hub refrigerator is something else. This 4-door fridge, which has a 21.5-inch touchscreen, can not only send and receive messages from family members' smartphones, but works with Alexa, Amazon's voice assistant, lets you order groceries, and can even stream TV.
Update (5/4/16): The Family Hub refrigerator is now available, and starts at $5,599 for the standard depth stainless steel model. A counter-depth stainless steel model costs $5,799, as does a standard-depth black stainless steel version. A counter-depth black stainless steel model costs $5,999. However, you can find them for less at retailers such as Best Buy.
Powered by Tizen, Samsung's home-grown operating system, the Family Hub refrigerator's display has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, and is protected by Gorilla Glass 4. Using a smartphone app (for Android and iOS), family members can share their calendars to the fridge and each other, and can send messages from their phones to the fridge--helpful if you're, say running late. The screen can also display family photos (it has 5GB of internal storage), which can be transferred via USB or from your smartphone.
The screen can be set to always-on, or to activate when it detects someone approaches. From the touchscreen, you'll be able to order groceries from Instacart, and it also works with Amazon's Alexa, so you can simply speak your grocery list to to fridge, too. The Family Hub fridge can also link up to an Amazon Echo if you already have one in your house.
If you're out at the store and can't remember if you need a fresh gallon of milk, you can pull up a snapshot of the inside of the fridge from your phone. That's right: every time you close the fridge doors, two cameras inside take a picture of the contents--before the light goes out--so you can see at a glance what you have.
Built-in speakers let you stream music, and, if you have a Samsung SmartTV in your house, you can stream and mirror content from it right to the fridge--handy if you're making the Sunday gravy and don't want to miss any of the football game.
Lastly, Samsung says that an update to the refrigerator's software will make it compatible with Samsung SmartThings smart home devices.
As a refrigerator, the Family Hub fridge is pretty impressive too: It has up to 27.9 cubic feet of storage space (for the standard-depth model; the counter-depth model as 22 cubic feet of space), and its lower-right compartment can be switched from a refrigerator to a freezer compartment. It will come in either a stainless steel or a black stainless steel finish, and be available as either full-depth or counter depth.
Yes, this is definitely a gee-whiz device with a price tag to match, but I wouldn't be surprised if features like all of these start showing up in more and more appliances in the next few years.