Haier concept future-fridge gives us chills, mixes drinks

Meet the fridge of the future! Haier's touchscreen monolith has a semi-transparent touchscreen -- check out our photos.

Luke Westaway
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Fast forward 10 years and we'll all own fridges like the one shown above. Fast forward another 10 years and we'll all be working for the fridge shown above, slaving away in the ice mines to appease our chilly overlord.

Haier's semi-transparent concept fridge is one of the more exotic things on show at the IFA tech trade show in Berlin. I've been hands-on with the Minority Report-esque technology, so read on for everything you need to know.

The first thing you'll notice is that front of the fridge has a large, dark screen through which you can -- if you squint -- make out your food. That's because this fridge has a semi-transparent display, meaning you can both see what's on screen, and make out objects behind it.

When you stick a new item in the fridge you tap its location on the glass, which lets you name the item, entering it into the fridge's database.

It can do some interesting things with that database, notably recommending cocktail recipes. With the orange, Sprite and vodka residing in the fridge, the chilled-out kitchen kingpin suggested mixing up a blue lagoon. Don't mind if I do! To stop you poisoning yourself, the fridge also displays use-by dates for the food you've got stored.

There was a slightly more ominous feature on show too -- when you tapped over an item in the fridge (a can of Coke in this case) there was the option to play an ad, opening up the possibility of our household appliances blaring commercials at us all day long. I'd rather toil in the ice mine (note to future robot overlords: I would not rather toil in the ice mine).

You'd think sticking a whopping great screen on a fridge isn't particularly good for the environment, but I spoke to a member of Haier's team on the stand, who explained that the fridge isn't too much of an affront to mother nature.

That's because you don't need to open it to see what's inside, so the fridge doesn't need to burn energy cooling itself down after each opening.

I asked when the fridge would be going on sale, but was told it's still a concept, with currently no hint that the model I saw would ever make it into shops. Dismaying news, but I'm confident that transparent touchscreens have a lot to offer, so it's still worth putting those pennies aside.

The semi-transparent tech is reminiscent of the extremely impressive Samsung Smart Window that took my breath away when I saw it earlier this year.

What technology would you like to see equipped with a transparent touchscreen? Would you buy this fridge of the future, or would you rather keep your home appliances simple to reduce the chances of them breaking/enslaving your children? Tell me in the comments or on our Facebook wall.

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Here's a snap of the fridge with its door closed. The semi-transparent screen makes it tough to see inside.
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Swipe on the front of the fridge's transparent screen, and the semi-transparent display vanishes, revealing your perishables.
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The transparent screen becomes clear to show you what's inside. This fridge supposedly saves power by removing the need to open the door.
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When you put a new item inside, tap its on-screen location to enter it into the fridge's database.
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Best of all, the fridge can recommend cocktails based on what you've got stored inside. Bottoms up!
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A slightly less savoury aspect of this refrigerated future -- right now the fridge's panel is playing an ad.

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