Tech giant Microsoft and large equipment manufacturer Liebherr are collaborating on a new generation of smart refrigerators that would help in shopping and planning meals with intelligent food management.
“As part of the Liebherr household appliances division’s digital initiative, the duo would develop ‘SmartDeviceBox’ — a communication module which fits into refrigerators and freezers — connecting them to the internet,” T.J Hazen, Principal Data Scientist Manager at Microsoft, wrote.
The box is an internet-connected module that fits inside refrigerators and freezers.
Microsoft is putting machine vision capabilities to work to enable boxes to recognize milk cartons, ketchup bottles and other food inside refrigerators, according to Hazen. The fridge of the future has a series of internal cameras that monitor and recognize the food items inside. The proud owner of one these devices can take inventory of the contents from anywhere using an app. The app also lets them create shopping lists based on the contents of the fridge.
The refrigerator relies on an image processing system that can identify items based on its library of millions of generic food packaging images. Microsoft’s Cognitive Services Computer Vision API powers the image-recognition technology, according to a blog post published Friday.
“The Microsoft system can learn to recognize new types of objects – milk cartons, ketchup bottles, pickle jars and much more – from example images,” it says. “When a new image from inside a refrigerator is provided to the newly learned model, it can detect the presence of the objects it has seen before during training.”
To a busy, forgetful person like me, there’s a real appeal to a fridge that does the remembering for me. You could see the device going one step further and automatically restocking items when they’re low. That kind of technology is likely to make Amazon prick up its ears.
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“Although the current system is a prototype, the deep learning technology it uses is already very powerful and rapidly maturing,” the announcement says. “Liebherr and Microsoft are actively improving these technologies to turn the newest generation of refrigerators into smart appliances that don’t just cool your food but interactively help you with your food management.”