The refrigerator as robot is a favorite topic of kitchen futurists. The fridge of the future, we are often told, will have a TV on its face. It will also know how to keep our lettuce crisp longer and remind us when we need to buy more eggs, and even go online and buy the eggs and lettuce for us.
So far these modifications have not made it to the mainstream. But at the tech shows last week -- while all eyes were on Apple's iPhone -- Whirlpool introduced another approach to the refrigerator of the future.
Whirlpool announced their centralpark Connection on January 8 and said it will be available this fall. This connection on the face of the refrigerator will allow consumers to soup up the front of their fridge by snapping in compatible electronics, including satellite radios, radios, digital photo albums, and MP3 players. The refrigerator will have a plug to power these devices and a spot to hold them. So far, no word on if the refrigerator will offer an Internet connection as well. Perhaps as more homes adopt wireless Internet systems, a hardwire to the web becomes less necessary.
One last note from New York: if Whirlpool plans to use the name of our famous park to market appliances, I hope they plan to pay the Central Park Conservancy for use of the name.