As I drove home late on Sunday night after a thoroughly active day an hour away from home with family and friends, the one thing I kept running over and over in my mind was whether I really needed to hit the grocery store at 9:30 pm on the way home, or could it possibly wait until the next day? I kept trying to visualize the level of milk left in the fridge, or remember if there was any left at all. Milk is the staple that makes the morning go ’round in my house from coffee to cereal to an ingredient in scrambled eggs and fresh muffins. No milk in the morning translates to panic.
I kept thinking if only I could see into my fridge, and even considered calling my best friend and neighbor to look for me. I really, really did not want to fight more crowds, more traffic, just to go shopping unnecessarily, as pajamas, ice cream (uh-oh, is there a smart accessory for this?), and Netflix sounded exponentially better. FirstBuild and ChillHub, you’ve read my mind — and apparently the minds of many others functioning in this generation of busy, busy, active, and finally — beat. Unveiled this week at International CES 2015 in Las Vegas, ChillHub should have everyone jumping up and down with joy — and surely it’s just the beginning of the ‘smart’ conveniences that are going to streamline our lives.
The place that we need the most enormous amount of help in around the home is the kitchen, so that’s the obvious place to start with smartening up. Smart appliances are the first priority at FirstBuild with ChillHub, which is a progressive refrigerator created on an open-source platform for “makers, hackers, tinkerers, and developers.” FirstBuild is built upon the open-source community, encouraging design and 3D printing collaborations. Founded in a partnership between GE Appliances and Local Motors, many of the product designs become reality at FirstBuild MicroFactory.
With a community of collaborative designers, and begun by FirstBuild members Brian Wagner and Nicolas Grenié, the impetus for moving forward with a project like FirstBuild’s ChillHub is 3D design and 3D printing with MakerBot 3D printers and others.
Milky Weigh is the first concept and accessory to grace ChillHub, as well as being available for download and 3D printing on Thingiverse. Created by FirstBuild member Nolan McQueen, and available for purchase at FirstBuild, the Milky Weigh helps deal with the scenario I outlined before, eliminating out-of-milk terror, as it gives the user real-time status on how much milk is left in the jug.
“When the FirstBuild community started, in May 2014, community members were submitting ideas for new applications for home appliances. It quickly became apparent that there was a lot of interest in new refrigerator features that require power, internet connectivity and the ability to communicate by sending commands and receiving information,” said Myles Caley, FirstBuild Software Community Manager. “ChillHub is the answer to these requests, designed by the community, for the community.”
- 27.7 cubic foot, with French doors and built in ice and water.
- Two USB hubs, which offer eight ports total.
- WiFi connectivity.
- FirstBuild’s Green Bean circuit board bridge offering direct control of the refrigerator and other appliances to propagate the open source design and community.
- Platform that invites new hardware products for refrigeration.
- Price point of $2,999 (available in black, white, slate, and stainless steel).
“In a sense, FirstBuild is building the infrastructure for building a smart home. ChillHub itself is the infrastructure to be able to connect devices inside your refrigerator to be visualized on your smartphone and the internet. It’s a platform of possibility,” says Brian Wagner, one of ChillHub’s lead contributors.
As innovators and makers keep the creativity going, and we keep thinking of ways to fill – and empty – the fridge, it’s going to be exciting to see what new designs and gizmos come down the line for the busiest place in the home.
Have you created any 3D printed devices for your refrigerator or rigged any other appliances in your home to make them ‘smarter?’ Tell us about it in the ChillHub Smart Fridge by FirstBuild Community forum over at 3DPB.com.