When it comes to technologies and innovation, appliances get interesting—refrigerators especially. The tech trends for refrigerators aren’t just upgrading existing smart features; they’re looking at fundamental problems with fridge design and tackling them piece by piece.
Here’s a list of a few features that we expect to see more of this year.
1. Glass-door Refrigerators
Transparent food storage is one area we’ve seen gradually becoming more and more mainstream, with several fridges on the horizon taking advantage of glass doors. The idea behind a glass door is simple: It allows you to see the contents of the fridge without opening the door first. This means more deliberate trips to the fridge and fewer instances of you gawking at its content while holding the door wide open. All this ensures your food spends more time at even temperatures.
2. Ice makers that produce higher quality ice, faster
While fridges have featured built-in ice makers for years, its implementation has been advancing. Based on the trends we’ve seen, your new fridge’s ice maker will likely produce ice of a much higher quality, at a significantly increased quantity, and/or just way more quickly.
One of LG’s newer fridges makes spherical ice. Not only do these cold globes look like something served at a trendy cocktail bar, they’re also just better at being ice than the traditional trapezoidal prism you’re used to—a sphere of ice has the lowest possible surface area, which means it melts more slowly compared to other shapes, keeping your drink colder for longer.
3. Air filters that remove ethylene
Ethylene: It’s the bane of crisper drawers everywhere. This chemical compound is a natural plant hormone given off by fruits. It encourages ripening and leaf drop, and it’s also why it’s a good idea to keep fruits and veggies in separate drawers. Otherwise, ethylene-emitting fruits will speed up the rate at which your veggies rot.
New Refrigerators actually filter out ethylene (and other unwanted gasses), keeping the food you store in your fridge happy, healthy, and surrounded by fresh air. While this is great news for mitigating the damage fresh fruits can wreak on other produce, it also helps prevent pungent odors (say, from last night’s leftover garlicky clam sauce) from seeping into surfaces where they don’t belong and contaminating the flavor of your other food.
4. AI-powered fridges
Artificial intelligence is one of the more interesting innovations that LG and Samsung have begun integrating into their refrigerators.
While both companies will use AI in slightly different ways, the crux of the technology is the same: Internal cameras are able to track different foodstuffs entering and exiting your fridge. This allows your fridge to keep an inventory of what you have in stock, alert you when ingredients are about to go bad, suggest recipes based on what you have in stock, and generate shopping lists for you.
5. Ever-better smart features
Let’s be honest: A lot of appliance smart features aren’t particularly useful. Sure, it’s nice to have a touchscreen where you can jot notes or be able to leave a video message for members of your household, but really, the main smart feature that’s essential in a refrigerator—in our opinion, at least—is the ability to get a notification if the fridge door doesn’t fully shut or if the freezer door pops open because it’s just way too packed.
Another practical smart application that’s becoming more of a staple? Diagnostics. Your fridge is better than ever at knowing what’s going wrong with it, and it can help you pinpoint problems before they worsen—or at least make the visit from a repair technician more efficient.