This Week’s Weirdest Technology

Could a refrigerator possibly be the downfall of civilization?

LG recently unveiled its latest in a series of top-end refridgerators featuring integrated LCD TV – with the ability to connect to DVD or VHS players. As some reviews of the fridge have said, the machine is “monstrously large”. But hey … we’re talking about a television right in your refrigerator.

Forgive me for cynicism, but this contraption currently tops my list of Weirdest and/or Most Useless Technology. Do they think they can take their eyes off the screen long enough to reach inside for a big plate of cookies and milk?

Priced at around $2500, the tv fridge caters to Americans. We are, statistically, the least active and most overweight group of people in the world. What could be more condescending, then, to all their customers than to say that you’re being encouraged to stay in the kitchen … eat … and watch tv? We’ve somehow gone beyond the built-in ice dispenser (which I’ve never had but don’t they look like something nifty) and birthed this monster of hybrid technology that does nothing to advance us, promote wellbeing, or really do anything beyond satisfying the lazy urge to pig out and veg on our favorite television shows.

Useless technology like this deserves a warning label. A Surgeon General’s Warning, even. It could read, “Turning Off the Television Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.”

In other Useless Technology News (or why have people spent millions on this when the technology is smart enough to save lives?), the Internet Home Alliance has launched its 8-week trial in Atlanta, testing their “intelligent” laundry solution.

Basically, the Internet Home Alliance has come up with a series of technologies that connect washers and dryers to cellphones, computers, and the all-important television. This way, while you’re sitting in front of your refridgerator television, you will know without moving a muscle that your laundry is complete – or when it hasn’t completed because of an unbalanced load. If you pulled a big goof and loaded up your laundry but (somehow) forgot to turn the silly machine on, it would send another message to you over your television or straight through your computer game to ask if you want it turned on. Remotely, you’d get to start your load of laundry.

The rationale behind this trial is that receiving these communications from your washing machine frees you from time dedicated to washing. They think it will make life easier on people who can manage washing remotely, while “doing other things around the home”.

Laundry Time’s results will be made public in early 2007 … but my question is this: with companies like Microsoft, Panasonic, Hewlett Packard, and others all working together to see what they can come up with, a remote-control washing machine was the smartest idea they could imagine? The technology they’ve compiled has some seriously humanitarian possibilities. How about the remote monitoring of patients in a small-town hospital? The medical field at large has uses for this kind of smart technology that go way beyond the week’s wash.

Maybe they could pair up with LG and figure out a way to communicate with the tv fridge so that it will order pay-per-view to watch over tonight’s dinner.

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