Improving functionality for household appliances may mean a lot of things, but for Sharp, one basic idea is to interact with them as shown by their newest refrigerator model that talks at its users.


Yes, you heard that correctly. Sharp has indeed unveiled a new voice-based AI system that allows their new refrigerators to interact with their users, providing status updates, suggestions, and greetings, among other options. Passionately called as the Kokoro Engine (kokoro is the Japanese word for “heart” or “mind”), the feature will be available on two of their new and upcoming refrigerator unit models, the SJ-GF60Y and the SJ-GF50Y. They have even provided a video ad that demonstrates just how this new feature would work.

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According to the video, most of the information given by the refrigerator is (thankfully) limited on things that are related to its use. This means that it won’t necessarily speak out your Facebook news feed status updates. The “topics” are quite broad though, seemingly ranging from simple temperature and energy consumption level updates to something a bit more “life-like” such as reminders and suggestions about what you should do with its contents.

Its complexity is nothing like Siri or Google Now though, but there is a relatively big room for future updates.

This “talk” feature isn’t actually new for Sharp’s products. Previously, they have also showcased the upgraded “talking” version of their automated home clean bot Cocorobo, which was also equipped with a prototype of sorts of the kind of interface the Kokoro Engine now uses.

Sharp’s new talking refrigerators are slated to be available in Japan on September 20, 2013, with a price tag starting at $3,580.

Source: Sharp (JP)