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Microsoft and Liebherr are collaborating on an upcoming line of smart fridges

To help refrigerator manufacturer Liebherr improve upon its SmartDeviceBox, tech giant Microsoft has announced plans to partner with the appliance company on upcoming releases. A communication module that connects Liebherr’s fridges to the internet, the SmartDeviceBox essentially turns any of its lineup of refrigerators into a connected appliance. Like Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator — sans the giant touchscreen — these fridges grant owners a wide range of capabilities including knowing what’s inside and when it spoils, shopping list integration, and innovative meal planning.

According to a blog post on Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft’s website, its role in the Liebherr partnership is to provide the appliance purveyor with computer vision capability. Liebherr turned to Microsoft due in part to its successful history of developing deep learning algorithms for image processing, Scientists at Microsoft have teamed with the folks at Liebherr to develop a system capable of recognizing specific kinds of food products inside the fridge. After recognizing these items — ketchup, milk, etc. — it then allows owners to see how soon they need to replenish the goods.

A test shot of Microsoft's imaging tech

A test shot of Microsoft’s imaging tech

“Although the current system is a prototype, the deep learning technology it uses is already very powerful and rapidly maturing,” read the blog post. “Liebherr and Microsoft are actively improving these technologies to turn the newest generation of refrigerators into smart appliances that don’t just cool your food but interactively help you with your food management.”

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The idea is that as the tech advances, it will help families shop smarter and know exactly what’s needed on a trip to the store. To access the information, owners would simply load up a companion smartphone application on either an iOS-enabled or Android-enabled smartphone. As of now, the updated SmartDeviceBox with Microsoft’s imaging capability is merely in a testing phase, so it’s unknown when exactly the companies intend to make it available to the public.