There is a new generation of fridges that can now tell you when you’re running out of groceries, compile your shopping list, switch on your oven and remove more than 99% percent of bacteria.
Forget fridges that only include an embedded Wi-Fi Android tablet, making appliances smart is not about stuffing devices on a home appliance without enhancing core functionalities. That is just one of the many insights that Josep Kim, the Managing Director of LG East Africa has on this pervasive home appliance.
With more wireless management tools, fridges can allow users to download shopping lists to their smart phones or to find recipes for available ingredients. Fridges are becoming smarter and can now do your shopping and turn on the oven. Josep Kim, the Managing Director, LG East Africa says an increasingly tech savvy clientele has seen the electronics giants reinvent its products to meet market preferences.
“The new generation is informed and takes no frills; they will read rants and reviews online on their smartphones before they decide which product to buy, so our Research and Development has align the products they are churning with market preferences,” says Mr. Kim.
One of LG’s latest innovations, the LG Smart Manager fridge has a large LCD touchscreen and camera, as well as an internet connection which allows it to download recipes. The Fridge comes with a system where each member of a family can set up an account which recognises special dietary requirements, gender, body mass index (BMI) and age. It can compile shopping lists for people based on their favourite foods and suggest recipes based on the ingredients inside.
“The concept is to record food items as you store them in the fridge by scanning individual barcodes or a shopping receipt with a scanner on the fridge door, or by describing the item which is picked up by a voice recognition technology” explains Mr. Kim.
The fridge's computer can monitor its contents and automatically add food to a user's online shopping account when stocks are running low. The Fridge can suggest recipes based on the ingredients one has left and once a recipe is chosen, the fridge can switch on the oven to the correct temperature and set a timer via a wireless connection. The screen on the fridge’s door guides the cook through the process.
Home appliances contribute about a quarter of LG Electronics’ revenue, says Mr Kim, and innovation success around most of its products is cognizant of local market trends. “For instance in India we have Power Cut EverCool refrigerators with the ability to retain cooling for up to seven hours without electricity. This is a product that can also suit Kenya,” says Kim.
Their innovation in India was informed by consumer insight from India which showed that the extreme weather combined with the erratic power supply caused high food wastage in households.On the hygiene from we have Our Advanced Hygiene Fresh technology which has a four-step filtering system coated with natural ingredients and separate airflow channels. Hygiene Fresh uses a powerful induction to suction in bacteria and oduors and has a delicate four-step filter that effectively removes 99.999% of bacteria.
LG has also had groundbreaking success in reducing noise and energy consumption of refrigerators after long-drawn process that saw the electronics giant invest US$60 million (KSh5.1 billion) in research and development.
The research yielded the Linear Compressor Technology which reduces a refrigerators’ noise, cuts on power consumption and keeps food fresh longer. The compressor, which is the engine of a fridge, is an important component that takes up more than 80% of the refrigerator’s energy consumption.
“We did a consumer survey that showed the important aspects people are willing to pay for are energy saving, noise reduction & durability,” says Mr Kim. LG is the first company in the world which has made a mass production of the more effective Linear Compressor as compared to the conventional one.
With several digital sensors within the cavity to cool each area to a consistent temperature, this means homeowners do not have to be too careful about where they store different types of food.These features are worth pointing out to consumers buying a new fridge, says Mr Kim. “People only buy home appliances about every eight or 10 years and might have some preconceived notions.
For instance, some may think that milk should not go on the door because it will be too warm. But our fridges have multiple sensors to maintain temperature and certain spots,” explains Mr Kim.