Liebherr can plug your fridge into the Internet of Things.
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It makes sense that smart appliances aren't selling as well as retailers and manufacturers originally hoped. When you get down to it, who wants to spend a significant premium over a traditional product, only to end up with a technology that will soon be out of date?
Well, German refrigerator manufacturer Liebherr has a novel solution: a plug-and-play device that turns almost any of the company's fridges into a smart fridge.
The Liebherr SmartDevice is about twice the size of a large USB drive, and plugs directly into a port on most of the brand's newest fridges. When connected, it will provide the user with remote alerts if the fridge door is open or the temperature drops, let the user engage the "SuperCool" function from the grocery store to rapidly chill the freezer in preparation for storing frozen foods, and contact services if any diagnostic codes pop up due to product failure or user error.
The SmartDevice will come pre-installed in high-end fridges, but users will have the option of adding it to mid-range and entry-level models after the fact. A company representative told us it will cost between €50 and €60 when it debuts in Europe—the equivalent of roughly $55 to $67.
The device itself is proprietary, but because it connects via WiFi, Liebherr said it may be compatible with open smart home systems in the future.
What's especially brilliant about the SmartDevice isn't so much its capabilities, but Liebherr's overall approach to smart home technology. Unlike smart home setups that force users to buy pricey hardware that can't be upgraded and may not even be necessary, SmartDevice gives consumers the option of choosing nearly any Liebherr fridge and adding connectivity only if and when they feel comfortable doing so.
Compare that to, say, Samsung—who only puts smart tech on its flagship refrigerator—and Liebherr's SmartDevice sounds downright thrifty.
We're glad to see that at least one brand has the right idea. We wouldn't be surprised if an approach like this is what it takes to lure more customers to the world of the smart home.
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