Samsung Family Hub 2

Samsung continues to push forward with its vision of the smart refrigerator as the center of the smart kitchen with the announcement of its Smart Hub 2.0 model (dubbed Family Hub 2.) at 2017 CES. Family Hub 2.0 represents an update to the company’s flagship 1.0 version announced at the 2016 CES. Family Hub 2.0 will be expanded into 10 new models as opposed to four which featured the initial version.

Improving upon such features as its voice controller, Samsung announced new application partners such as  GrubHub, Nomiku, Glympse, Ring, Spotify, and iHeartRadio. In Europe, Samsung is working with local home grocery services to add greater consumer convenience, and with music/audio services, the new Family Hub can offer the latest tunes, news headlines and weather reports from a central family gathering place.

Family Hub 2.0 has increased its usability by offering an internal camera to keep track of what food needs to be replenished and then connecting to a MasterCard grocer-ordering app. Integration with AllRecipes allows cooks to connect to recipes that can be read in large text via a 21.5-inch LED screen. As a smart hub, individual family members can set up their own profiles and use the built-in screen to create shopping lists, calendars, and memos.

The new Family Hub 2.0 smart refrigerators start at $5,799, not exactly priced for mass consumption. Samsung continues to have faith in the smart fridge category, firmly believing that the refrigerator is a logical hub for other IoT appliances in the smart kitchen including its new line of ovens. Beyond the kitchen, if Samsung were able to tie together its various point-solution hubs from around the home (using its IoT platform ARTIK) it could become a dominant player in the world of IoT.

LG also announced a new smart refrigerator at CES 2017, the InstaView model with its standout feature being integration with Amazon’s Echo to provide voice-control. Echo’s Alexa voice assistant can be used to order groceries from the Seattle-based retailer with Amazon software built into the appliance. A 2-megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens will allow consumers to see what food needs to be reordered via the 29-inch LED screen built into the front of the appliance.

Running on the same WebOS as LG smart TVs, pricing and availability of the InstaView was not announced.

Whirlpool, who won a CES 2017 innovation award for its Zera food recycler, announced new technology for its line of refrigerators including a door within a door, but has yet to come out with a smart fridge.

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Allen Weiner is an Austin-based freelance writer focusing on applications of new technology in the areas of food, media and education. In his 17-year career as a vice president and analyst with Gartner, Inc., the world’s largest IT research and advisory firm, Allen was a frequent speaker at company and industry events as well as one of the most-quoted analysts in the area of new media. With an extensive background in publishing and publishing technology, Allen is noted as the founder of The Gate (sfgate.com), the nation’s first daily newspaper on the web. Born in Philadelphia, Allen is a graduate of Muhlenberg College and Temple University.