If South Korea's LG Electronics has its way, your refrigerator will soon be used for much more than storing milk. The company unveiled here this week a new Internet ready refrigerator that can be used to surf the Web and even make telephone calls.
The result of a three-year, 55 billion won (£32.7 million) project staffed by a team of 55 researchers, the Internet Digital DIOS Refrigerator features two prominent 15-inch TFT (thin film transistor) liquid crystal display panels (LCDs) on its front, one on each of the two main doors.
Through these panels, users can access a range of high-tech features such as a database of real time grocery prices, health and nutrition tips, cooking information and also, if users first tell the refrigerator what goods are being stored inside, alerts as expiration dates come closer.
To connect to the Internet the unit features a broadband connection and a video camera is also built in just above one of the screens to allow users to video conference or take images and send them via e-mail.
LG said they plan to begin selling the product later this month at a price of 9.9 million won (£5,900). While several manufacturers have shown prototypes of such kitchen appliances, this is the first time that a major electronics maker has commercialized an Internet refrigerator.
The company said it has submitted applications for 75 patents both in and out of Korea as a result of the project.