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Patch me in

The online fridge could be the next big thing. By Philip Ling.

Everyone's on the look out for the next big thing. For a long time, mobile communications has occupied most peoples' mind, but with the handset market currently in adjustment, focus could shift to an emerging area; the connected device.

Not to be confused with the remote terminal or 'internet appliance', connected devices are predicted to be anything from white goods – or consumer appliances – to vending machines or security systems. Although covering a vast array of applications, the common denominator here is cost. That doesn't mean low cost, that means no cost. Adding connectivity to an appliance that, let's be frank, has functioned quite nicely so far without it, means it has to be a no cost option to the end user.

The urban legend of the internet enabled toaster, a story that has been doing the rounds for some time, could become reality sooner than was originally thought.
Already we have microwave ovens that are capable of scanning a bar code and going online to download the exact cooking instructions, so how long will it be before the fridge is dialling up the supermarket and ordering dairy products?

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Graham Pitcher

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