Copenhagen—The Electrolux Screenfridge is a refrigerator in the same way that the Space Shuttle is a bottle rocket.
Sure, it keeps the milk cold, but the Screenfridge also has a touch-sensitive computer screen on the door, which is linked to the Internet, television, radio, cell phones, and broadband. It also has a small video camera to record messages from family members, and store shopping lists and the family calendar.
Add up all this technology, and you get a fridge with more intelligence than your average hungover college student. The Screenfridge can suggest dinner ideas based on the contents of the refrigerator, and if you forget your shopping list at the grocery store, just call up and ask your fridge. It's being tested through the end of January in 50 Danish homes outside Copenhagen.
But apparently Electrolux has much bigger ideas for the digital icebox—it has put the Screenfridge in charge of running six 2,000-square foot "intelligent living" homes on the island of Varmdo in the Stockholm archipelago.
No really—the fridge is in charge of those homes. It lets homeowners enter the front door through fingerprint recognition, it turns off the heat and the lights when no one's home, it sends a cell phone alarm when you leave the stove burning or when the dishwasher starts to leak, and it instructs the robotic Auto Mower (built by Fridgidaire's sister company, Husqvarna) to cut the grass.
In Stanley Kubrick's science fiction movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" the computer named "Hal" has similar powers over a spaceship. And if we can learn anything from Hal's eventual battle with its human passengers, it's this—don't pick a fight with your fridge.