On January 3rd, LG Electronics unveiled a sparkling new arsenal of smart appliances at the 2011 International CES–the world's grandest consumer technology tradeshow. According to a press release, the company's refrigerators have an LCD display with removable food icons and a voice recognition function, enabling users to keep tabs on what is in the fridge, on what shelf each item is located, and when expiration dates are looming. Eventually, this information will be accessible via smartphones and tablets. Thus, before too long, that slow, distracted fellow fiddling with his iPad at Trader Joe's could be checking on the freshness of his existing stash of eggs, not necessarily updating his Facebook status as he clogs the aisle.

The appliances will reportedly help their owners save energy and become “eco-friendlier,” issuing daily, weekly, and monthly reports on energy consumption and the related costs. At the same time, we're a little underwhelmed. Why not harness technological advances to create an appliance that is not only useful but also entertaining? Like an oven with a deep, honeyed singing voice or a Pee Wee-worthy breakfast machine small enough to squeeze into an apartment kitchen.

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