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Smart Appliance App: Control Your Fridge From Miles Away

We have an app for almost everything these days, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the app craze has finally made its way into our kitchens - our refrigerators in particular. Control4, a company that makes smart phone appliances, has released an app and corresponding module designed to give the user control over their fridge, even if they happen to be thousands of miles away.

The Smart Appliance Module is an unobtrusive white box that can be installed in any refrigerator, although it comes with features that work best with Wolf or Sub-Zero appliances. Once someone purchases the module, they can then download the Smart Appliance App and immediately gain remote access over their fridge. With this access a person can manage the fridge's energy use, stimulate the production of ice, monitor any problems, and adjust the system for Sabbath observance. The app also provides regular alerts regarding energy use and maintenance needs.

With this release, the world of home automation took one more step towards bringing the kitchen into the virtual cloud. While companies such as Comcast and Vivint already offer appliance management services, the refrigerator itself - the centerpiece of the kitchen and a product that has changed little in recent decades - can now be more easily connected to a master home management system.

The app's release also highlighted the tremendous tech potential that home automation offers. In other tech industries there is a considerable degree of competition and concentrated power; in the smartphone world, for example, Apple and perhaps Samsung reign supreme, thereby leaving little room for innovation from smaller players in the industry. But home automation is different. In this field, which is rapidly growing in popularity as it decreases in cost, small companies have the potential to make a difference, release a new product, and capture a share of the market. And the level of innovation is considerable: engineers at Google X are working on fully intelligent refrigerator while Vivint security has broadened its focus to include residential solar power. The new Smart Appliance App is just another reminder of this.

It won't be long before our fridges have an internal memory and communication system. Until that point arrives, however, it's always helpful to control the functions we already have remotely, from any location, via (of course) an app.