| 'Internet Refrigerator' Aimed for 1999 Commercial Use
April 30, 1998 (TOKYO) -- V Sync Technology, a venture business,
said a new household "Internet refrigerator" will be
commercialized by late 1999.
|It already has completed a prototype, and negotiations are now
taking place with two home electrical products manufacturers to
introduce the Internet refrigerator to the market, said Katsuma
Fujii, president of V Sync Technology.
The Internet refrigerator has embedded devices such as a computer
and a liquid-crystal display (LCD) to provide Web-based
information useful to daily life.
Refrigerators are always turned on, so Internet capabilities can
be immediately operative without a start-up procedure whenever a
user wants information from the Internet.
The current prototype was developed for the application in the
Regional Intranet Experiment to be started in an Okayama town in
October 1998. The development project involved the companies such
as Nihon Silicon Graphics Cray KK and Sharp Corp.
The prototype was designed to mount a desktop type PC on the top
of a refrigerator. The PC consists of a 333MHz Pentium II
processor, 128MB memory and a 3.2GB hard disk drive.
An LCD is embedded on the door of the refrigerator, and a touch
panel is provided as a user interface. A user can also use IBM
Japan Ltd.'s ViaVoice voice-recognition software.
Netscape Navigator 4.0 is available as a Web browser, and tuner
sections of a radio and TV are also on the prototype.
The outlook of the prototype may not be very sophisticated with a
PC simply placed on the top of a refrigerator. However, a new
experimental model will have a processor board, with control
performance at the PC level, built into the door of the
refrigerator. Thus, it can save space and look good.
The prototype runs Windows 95, but the experimental model is due
to adopt Linux, a UNIX operating system.
The experimental Internet refrigerators will be delivered to
about 30 households. The appliances are connected with the
Internet through local cable TV networks, and contents are
distributed from an experimental server by technologies such as
The price of a future product will not exceed the price gap of
more than 100,000 yen (US$770) versus conventional refrigerators,
The company plans to develop an Internet terminal that can be
installed on an existing, ordinary refrigerator, in parallel with
the Internet refrigerator project.