Samsung and LG go head to head with AI-powered fridges that recognize food

Get ready for a smart fridge showdown at CES 2020, because Samsung and LG will both be unveiling fridges with added artificial intelligence capabilities this year. Samsung’s latest edition of its Family Hub refrigerator and LG’s second-generation InstaView ThinQ fridge both tout AI-equipped cameras that can identify food. The idea is that the cameras can scan what’s inside and let users know what items they’re short on, even making meal suggestions based on the ingredients they still have.

Samsung’s Family Hub smart fridge was first unveiled at CES 2016, and since then, the company has been rolling out updated iterations with Bixby support, SmartThings integration, and AKG speakers. The latest edition adds software upgrades to enable AI image recognition in its View Inside cameras.

Before, the cameras let users see what’s in their fridges from their smartphones, a useful feature if you happen to be out grocery shopping and can’t remember what you need to stock up on. With the AI-enabled updates, Family Hub will supposedly make these recommendations for you on its own, identifying which ingredients you’re low on. Though it’s to be determined how well the image recognition will work — for example, how will it deal with ingredients stored in tubs of Tupperware?

The software upgrades also include improved meal planning with the help of Whisk, a food tech startup Samsung acquired last year. Whisk lets users plan meals for up to a week and then creates smart shopping lists using ingredients that apply to multiple recipes.

Finally, the huge built-in touchscreen that can be used as a virtual bulletin board can now support video clips, as well as mirror content from Samsung TVs and phones. That means you can watch vertical videos like IGTV on your Samsung fridge, as God intended.

Samsung’s Family Hub fridge comes in silver (pictured here) and black.
Image: Samsung

LG is showing off two models of its InstaView fridges, both of which feature a 22-inch display that can turn transparent to let users see what’s inside without opening the door and letting the cold air out. There’s the AI-equipped InstaView ThinQ and the InstaView with Craft Ice, which makes fancy, two-inch spherical ice balls. Those are supposed to melt slower than regular ice, if that’s a problem that you have. The InstaView with Craft Ice was released in the US last year, but will now be available in more markets.

There’s no pricing information yet, but based on the prices for LG and Samsung’s previous fridge models, customers can expect prices to range from $4,500 to $6,000. Samsung says its Family Hub updates will be available in the spring.

I’m not opposed to the idea of a huge Wi-Fi-connected touchscreen on a fridge — in fact, it seems like a genuinely useful way to look up recipes or display cute photos and videos. I’m skeptical how well the AI will identify different ingredients, and whether using a computer to see what items you’re low on is really better than just taking a look for yourself.

Comments

I wonder if Samsung also spent time fixing their ice maker to not freeze over on their 4500+ USD fridges too.

Can’t stand this about my Samsung fridge. If I don’t use ice for a week, which happens sometimes. It’s a mess… I usually have to kill power to it. Move the food to flex drawer which is luckily usually empty. Keep the doors open for a few hours to let the ice melt a little then tear the tray out which doesn’t look like it’s really designed to come out because even with the door all the way open it smashes right into it. Then I have to break out the heat gun to melt the ice. It’s a pain in the ass.

Don’t use a heat gun you’ll warp the plastic at some point.

Turn off the lights in your place and unplug the fridge, then shine a flashlight on the left side up with the ice maker drawer out. If you see light coming up then that’s the issue. Some food grade caulk will address most of it. The problem is humidity buildup. There are videos on youtube on how to do this.

Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to check this out

Let me know if it works I’m too afraid to try it haha

I’ve red about this happening several times and I’ve been dreading the day that it happens to mine, but honestly in the year and a half I’ve had it I’ve no problems with the ice maker whatsoever.

I feel for you though. That’s got to completely suck, especially on a fridge as expensive as these are.

I wonder how many software updates it will get and wait for the next smart fridge vulnerability. I want my fridge and refrigerate and freeze my food and eventually have water and ice machine when needed. Don’t need any of that extra stuff. It’s seems it’s for people that don’t really cook and rely on Consuela and eating out. Maybe box delivery meals. Which I find blasphemous. I am super busy and still find time to cook and meal prep. Cause not only it’s efficient for your wallet and health but it’s all sustainable for the planet as well and satisfying.

I thought the same thing as well and then bought a house and negotiated for the fridge as a part of it. It’s one of the flex 4 french door ones with a screen and it’s 4500ish new. Really I wanted their washer and dryer but the fridge and deep freezer were thrown in instead.

Honestly the size and layout of these things are fantastic, and the ability to flex the bottom right hand side to be another fridge or a freezer is fantastic for storage.

I’m not sure who would actually use the screen on these things, but the space in the one we have is fantastic.

You’ve got to be joking. Yes, it’s relatively expensive (for a refrigerator) and it’s definitely aimed at those who love tech, but come on….it’s still a refrigerator. Everything about it is designed for the person who loves to cook and spend time in the kitchen.

the screen and smart tech is still stupid, though

Different strokes for different folks I suppose. Sure, some of the options are a little over the top, but by and large I’ve found most of the smart features to be rather convenient.

I was joking but all of that tech is over kill on the refrigerator.

The portion that The_Tick mentioned about dividing the bottom into a fridge or freezer is usefully. My non screen Samsung fridge does that. It also has specialty temperature controlled drawers for veggies and fruits. So I don’t wilt my greens by having them too cold.

I just don’t need a window, camera, or a screen on my fridge. I have laptops, iPads, and want to get a Nest screen

I dont understand the french door model being the standard for this technology. Wouldnt it just be easier to design these for the standard dutch door style fridge? Put a regular 24-30 inch display on the freezer door where its at eye level for videos, lists, etc.

French door is the newest style and considered the fanciest by most people, so it makes sense to put the fancy new technology there. I like them for the extra door space and wide shelves (also on a dutch door) that make the fridge easy to organize, but prefer side-by-sides for organizing the freezer. It is kind of weird having a portrait screen that large, but it is at least at eye level and makes more sense for things like recipes/lists.

Personally I have no interest in a smart fridge or smart oven until we get to the point where a robot can pick a casserole dish out of my fridge and put it into the oven it has preheated. It can come with tons of limitations (must use this exact dish, placed in this exact spot) and I’d still love it. The only robots I want more are for dishes and laundry.

Samsung should spend less time on AI technology in their fridges, more time on building a fridge that doesn’t require a manual defrost every month.

Fridge: "Not hotdog."

Before integrating AI into fridges, LG and Samsung need to focus on making fridges that actually "refrigerate" and that don’t break down in 2-5 Years. A.K.A making fridges that are worth a damn!

When will they add a nugget ice maker?

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