By Simon | 3Ders
In the near future, heading to the fridge to get your morning glass of orange juice will soon involve a lot more than simply grabbing the juice and relieving that morning thirst. It will also mean knowing via an app just how much juice you have left and if you need to stop by the store on the way home from work later that evening.
Revealed at CES 2015, the ChillHub, General Electric (GE)'s latest product, is a refrigerator designed for tinkerers and hackers who are looking to get a little more customization and use out of their typical ‘dumb’ fridge experience that we have all become accustomed to.
Similar to how iRobot created a unique Roomba offering for those who wanted to be able to customize or hack their robotic floor vacuums, General Electric wants their users to take control of their appliances and hack them to make them smarter using programming and 3D printing.
The ChillHub was built using General Electric’s FirstBuild platform, an initiative started in 2014 that focuses on providing an open platform for students, entrepreneurs and makers to co-create the products of the future. Similar to how Local Motors crowdsources design ideas to create automobiles, General Electric is hoping that the platform will help spearhead new concepts for home appliances of the future that General Electric engineers can then build and ultimately, manufacture into new appliance designs.
Built with the ability to incorporate additional accessories in mind, the ChillHub is focusing on how users can use 3D printing to modify and improve on the design of using a refrigerator.
Creators who choose to participate can design an accessory for the refrigerator and share it using the FirstBuild website for others to either print, assemble and use on their own product, or use to improve upon an existing idea. Currently, the first available 3D printed accessory for the ChillHub is a smart scale accessory called the Milky Weigh.
Using a programmable scale, the Milky Weigh is able to send users updates about how much milk they currently have left before they need to purchase more. To use the Milky Weigh, a user plugs the 3D printed device into one of the included USB ports and customizes which size of milk container they are currently using (gallon, quart, pint, etc). When the weight of the container starts to drop below a set amount, the user is notified and can keep their notification on an iOS device to add to their grocery list.
The ChillHub fridge leverages the power of FirstBuild's Green Bean, a circuit board bridge that gives software developers direct control over the refrigerator, allowing them to develop products and features they want.
The ChillHub will retail for $2,999 and can be ordered through FirstBuild.com in black, white, Slate and stainless steel.
As for obtaining the Milky Weigh, General Electric is also offering it for sale on their FirstBuild website in the case that a user doesn’t currently have access to a 3D printer.
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