Packages talking to refrigerators talking to cell phones

The shopping list will never be the same.

Imagine wandering down the aisle of your food store with a cell phone that is capable of showing you a complete list of the stuff in your refrigerator. It may happen fairly soon.

Three technologies are converging to make this possible, smart appliances with Hydra software, smart packages with RFID tags, and smart phones.

Smart Appliances
We know that Samsung and other manufacturers have been working on refrigerators that keep track of their contents for a number years. And some of these models are now available outside of North America. But so far the information has had to be manually entered and it couldn’t be easily communicated to other devices.

The Hydra project, or what is being called the internet of things, is working to change that. It is middleware that will allow appliances, or really any device, to talk to one another. And in the case of a refrigerator allow it to act like, and be as accessible as, any other internet device.

Smart Packages
RFID tag technology will allow packages to talk to the smart fridge. While they are widely used on pallets and other large quantities of product, and not yet in common use on individual food and beverage packages, this is changing fast. As the technology gets more sophisticated, smaller, and cheaper, this will allow for wider adoption on individual packages.

Smart Phones
The last link in this technology is the phone. We know many companies have developed apps that allow a camera equipped phone to recognize a package on shelf. This is really just a simple extension of that functionality.


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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