Ben Bayly opens his phone and smiles. His seven-year-old daughter has just sent him a picture. She’s drawn it on the fridge door.
“Ella is only seven so she’s too young to have a phone. But she can come to the fridge and send me a text while I’m at work,” he says. Ben is in the kitchen of The Grounds, his new family-friendly restaurant in the Henderson Valley, that complements his role as executive chef of Auckland’s upmarket restaurants, The Grove and Baduzzi.
But he can keep in touch with wife, Cara, and check what’s in the fridge, order the supermarket shopping online and much more, through the Samsung Family Hub refrigerator in the centre of their home – the kitchen.
Back at home, Ben points out how the kitchen used to be the centre of family life.
“Back in the day, you would put anything on the fridge door, like reminders, shopping lists, school reports, the kids’ pictures.
“This is the thinking behind the smart home, the connected home – it’s bringing us back to that idea. You can do anything, from creating a shopping list to the whole YouTube vibe.”
The Family Hub is just what it says – the centre of household connections in the digital age. On the 21.5-inch touch screen in one of its four doors, Ben has posted a photo gallery of their three children’s lives; the couple share and update calendars, display the kids’ works of art, and leave notes.
Yes, the 670-litre fridge-freezer does store food too. It also efficiently manages groceries, letting you manually enter use-by dates to reduce food wastage.
Three cameras capture an image every time the door closes: Ben can access those images on his smartphone and call into the supermarket on his way home, or Cara can shop online.
And with the kitchen returning to its old-time place at the centre of home and family life, the fridge is an entertainment portal, too. It streams music through its built-in speaker or via wireless speakers throughout the house.
The screen can mirror a smart TV and, of course, it’s hooked up to the internet for keeping in touch with the social media world.
Ben has a couple of favourite programs – “Oven timers can be quite difficult to use. This is much more user friendly” – and the precise beer and wine chiller when friends drop round.
Just one thing: The barbecue isn’t hooked up to the fridge or smart phone. Now there’s an idea!
The Samsung Family Hub is available at Noel Leeming and Harvey Norman, RRP $9999.