New technologies have changed our life, making everyday tasks easier and faster. This new style of living requires a new kind of distribution of cognitive processes, resources and information. Trends in appliance design propose more sophisticated control and networking capabilities. Current white goods may be equipped with complex softwares and GUIs, that may be inputted, by mobile phones. The idea of inputting and interacting with our kitchen households by any personal nomadic device, leaving a public message on an available display surface, i.e. as the fridge surface, will create an interactive ecosystem supported by the coupling of multiple display. The ZmartFRI project aims at developing a seamless technology with an interactive fridge surface, assuring simplicity and intuitiveness of interaction. In this way home appliance that were in the past considered plain and utilitarian, become entertainment devices or, as in the case of ZmartFRI, become a family information hub. The house inhabitants may send and receive messages and information from the fridge, that play the role of family totem. The fridge surface equipped with a display and an effective GUI provides more than additional memory device supporting human activities and providing opportunities to reorganize what is known. Thanks to a coupled display system between the fridge and the user mobile device, the fridge is able to alert products expiration date, to suggest recipes, to fill in and send by sms or email the shopping list, to send and post messages for the house residents. Using RFID technology, an intelligent fridge should be able to sense the context and to communicate the user context variations (i.e. approaching expiring dates or close empty cartons) or context implications (i.e. a good recipe to use a product close to expire). Besides these functions, we implemented in ZmartFRI also the ability to automatically fill in a grocery shopping list, that may be communicated to the user via sms or email when s/he is shopping. Moreover it improves its traditional function of showcase for anyone's message with magnets or post-it by sending and posting messages electronically and visualising them on its own display. Context-aware systems and ubiquitous computing promise more than just infrastructure, suggesting indeed new paradigms of interaction inspired by widespread access to information and computational capabilities. To attain this aim, the driving design principles for our intelligent fridge were the simplicity of the application and intuitiveness of the interaction. To understand in details which functions the user may desire about an intelligent fridge, short ethnographic research has been conducted to gather typical users' ideas, expectations, and concerns. The findings of the ethnographic study allowed us at designing ZmartFRI for specific needs, but starting from a particular point of view: home is already smart, smart not in terms of technology, but in terms of how people conduct their lives at home. During the participatory design session the interaction between the display of the personal device (private display) and the fridge display (public display), has been defined. The user identified several actions that the intelligent fridge should perform: i) checking the goods in the fridge, ii) creating a shopping list, iii) sending to a personal device the shopping list if requested iv) being guided on how to prepare a recipe, v) writing and delivering messages, vi) creating, rearranging and deleting notes, vii) mailing a note to one of the family members whose portrait is decorated with a cover icon The ZmartFRI project follows a main design principle: this is the "just use it" requirement. The fridge prototype is still virtual, but it represents a promising start, which we plan to pursue further, implementing a mock up that will be used for usability tests with users. With the adequate improvements we intend to test its use in a real context, by installing it in the residence of our subjects, and testing its uptake as part of their daily life over some prolonged period, according to the ethnographic approach we undertook. A future challenge will be the design of a wider display that will open new interaction concept and modalities between the family totem (the fridge) and the personal portable devices.
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