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Financial Review reports that Panasonic has introduced a “moveable fridge” that “responds to voice commands and brings food when it is summoned … The prototype uses similar sensor technology to robotic vacuum cleaners that scan the room to avoid crashing once they have left the docking station.

“The company also reportedly plans to add a warming plate to the top of the fridge, to keep food hot as it's transported around the home.”

The new refrigerator was unveiled at the Internationale Funkausstellung electronics trade show in Berlin, Germany.

The story notes that at the same show, Panasonic “floated the concept of a ‘Sustainable Maintainer’ – a washing machine that launders clothing items individually, scanning the label for washing instructions and examining how dirty it is. After it washes and dries the load a robotic arm picks up each item, folds it and places it onto a shelf within the unit.
The products unveiled are still prototypes, with no announcements made about if or when they would be introduced to the market.”
KC's View:
While Panasonic made the point that the refrigerator is designed to help the elderly and folks with limited physical mobility, it seems pretty obvious that the technology also could be embraced by couch potatoes who don’t actually want to get up to get their potatoes.

The thing is, this all gets really interesting when you combine it with other technology innovations, such as the ability to have machines do their own ordering - like a refrigerator that orders milk or butter or eggs when it sense that those items are running low, or washing machines that order detergent when necessary.

There will, of course, be some folks who will argue that these kinds of innovations are leading toward the end of western civilization, but I don’t feel that way. I’d like to think that they’re actually leading to an ability to have the time to do the really important stuff.

That said … I’m a big fan of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast,” and I’m reminded by this story of the following passage:

“By then I knew that everything good and bad left an emptiness when it stopped. But if it was bad, the emptiness filled up by itself. If it was good you could only fill it by finding something better.”

I read about these innovations, and I wonder if we’re headed to a time when there will be no emptiness. Which sounds like a good thing, but how will we know that we are full if there is no emptiness with which to compare it? But maybe that’s too philosophical a question to ponder here…