In years past, I made fun of Internet-connected refrigerators. But at this year’s 2016 International CES, connected refrigerators were in plentiful supply, and they were a valid part of the Internet of Things (smart connected everyday objects). The idea of remotely accessing your fridge is no longer just a joke.

Samsung showed off its Family Hub Refrigerator at CES. Using Wi-Fi wireless networks, you can access the Web, look up recipes, check on items in the fridge, note which foods you need to reorder, and even buy things straight from the screen. You can add notes to the daily calendar, and they’re instantly synced on phones of family members. This piece of the Internet of Things is finally starting to get useful.

The idea is to enrich family life using the fridge as the center of the kitchen. You can see if you left your oven or burners on via a smartphone app. You can put your kids’ art work on the 21.5-inch high-definition screen, or you can view the objects in the fridge from your smartphone. That’s because there are cameras in the fridge that take pictures of its contents every time you close the door.

You can also order replacement groceries easily via MasterCard. The Family Hub connects consumers to stores, straight from the kitchen, via online shopping vendors such as Fresh Direct, Shop Right, My Web Grocer, and others. You can access the MasterCard app from the Family Hub screen, a Samsung smartphone, or a tablet. Then you can arrange to have groceries delivered to your door.

The Family Hub also lets you access Samsung Smart Things, the platform for the Internet of Things in the home. Using the fridge, you can turn off the lights at bedtime and lock your doors. Home automation and control can be fully integrated into the hub. You can stream music or television from the Samsung TV to the Family Hub.

It will be available this spring. The price isn’t available yet.

Here’s a video I shot below, followed by a Samsung trailer

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