Samsung is putting AI into washing machines and cameras into fridges to build kitchen of the future

New artificial intelligence technology can save energy and stop food waste, company claims

Andrew Griffin
Friday 05 April 2024 15:12 BST

Samsung is adding new artificial intelligence into its home appliances, claiming that it will reduce their energy use and help with problems such as food waste.

The new appliances include fridges with cameras built in to scan food as it comes into the house, and washing machines that are able to alter their cycles to minimise energy use. The company will also release a new robot vacuum cleaner – named the AI Jet Bot Combo – that can drive around the house and locate pets.

The new artificial intelligence features can “do more than previously imagined with the power of AI”, according to Samsung executive Jong-Hee Han. They also aim to turn home devices into a “platform for entertainment”, he said as the company revealed fridges and even hobs with displays built in.

The new products come as the technology world rushes to integrate AI, which has been hailed as the future of a host of industries. But they will also be released amid increasing concern about the perils of artificial intelligence, including worries about whether it can be controlled and how it might invade the privacy of its users.

Samsung said that the new appliances had been built with “stringent Samsung Knox security standards” and that they had been approved by security companies. The fridge, robot vacuum and other products encrypt user data, for instance, which Samsung said would ensure the detailed photographs and 3D maps are not available to hackers.

The company also said that users will be asked to switch on those artificial intelligence features, ensuring that they opt in to using them and can easily remove their consent if they wish to. That is so that customers feel they have the choice over to opt into what could be controversial new features, Samsung UK marketing director Tanya Weller told The Independent.

Samsung is focusing on “things that make a meaningful difference to customers”, she said, rather than “innovation for innovation’s sake”, or “AI for AI’s sake”.

The new line-up of products are part of Samsung’s Bespoke AI range, aimed at bringing artificial intelligence into the kitchen. It is made up of the robot vacuum, two new fridge freezers and a new washing machine range.

The four-door refrigerator that includes what Samsung calls an AI Family Hub is the most obvious use of artificial intelligence. Food is scanned as it goes into the fridge, which can then be viewed on a screen that can be used to generate new recipes that will make use of the ingredients inside, as well as notifying users when something is set to go off.

AI also appears in the robot vacuum, which includes a machine-learning model that can recognise objects such as people or pets. That means that an owner can ask the vacuum to drive around the house and locate a cat, for instance.

But Samsung stressed that the most practical use of artificial intelligence in the new appliances may be their new energy-saving capabilities. AI inside of the washing machine can adjust the washing and drying performance according to how many clothes are inside, for instance, and the fridge will adjust its cooling performance depending on how its owner is using it, so that it will adjust its temperature depending on whether it predicts that it its doors are about to be opened again.

Samsung is also working with British Gas and other energy providers to give appliances data about the cheaper and more sustainable times to draw power. A dishwasher might opt to start its wash at 11pm because electricity is more green at that time, for instance.

Some of those AI-based energy features will be available on older devices, Samsung said. Those with WiFi can be updated remotely, and Samsung commits to keep providing updates to existing devices for years after they are bought.

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