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(Japanese Site)

  • '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 push technology.

    The price of a future product will not exceed the price gap of more than 100,000 yen (US$770) versus conventional refrigerators, Fujii said.

    The company plans to develop an Internet terminal that can be installed on an existing, ordinary refrigerator, in parallel with the Internet refrigerator project.

    (Nikkei Multimedia)

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    Updated: Wed Apr 29 21:25:50 1998