Wednesday, 5 January 2011


Ocado explores the future of the domestic fridge

Forward-thinking online supermarket Ocado ( is working with the University of Central Lancashire’s future development ‘Product Design’ team on the fridge of the future.

The team forecasts that fridges could evolve into something truly cerebral, offering predictive, fully automated shopping (courtesy of a link to the Ocado website,) robotic ‘stock’ rotation, self-cleaning routines and waste food management – all of which could change the way we eat forever.

Ocado has partnered with the Product Design courses at the University of Central Lancashire mindful of the changing lifestyles of supermarket shoppers. With Brits putting in an additional 36 million hours of free overtime a year, it leaves very little time to complete mandatory chores such as the weekly food shop or fridge clean-out.

Scanning for your supper
Future fridges will be able to scan their multi-shelf contents and then calculate a meal appropriate to those items found. Recipes, organised via categories, will allow for choice between country, cuisine and season.

The future fridge will be ‘plumbed in’ to the Ocado website, and its smartphone apps, and will be able to automatically order food based on contents already used.

First come first served
The smart fridge will incorporate stock rotation with ‘nano articulated technology’ surfaces. Whilst feeling smooth to the human touch, millions of independently controlled micro tiles will manoeuvre products which need to be eaten to the front of the fridge.

The fridge will also monitor gases released by degrading foods and ‘push’ these items to the front of its shelves.

Weight watcher
Using ultrasound-scanning technology (built into the door) to ‘swipe and capture’ the food on a plate before and after meal-time, the future fridge can make an accurate assessment of what type and volume of food is wasted. The fridge will link to the household bin, with its own management system from which to feed back types and weight of food wasted.

The future fridge can cross reference and act upon this data, reducing the ingredients used in future meal suggestions and helping minimise food waste.

Jon Rudoe, Head of Retail & Customer at Ocado, comments:
“It’s exciting and very insightful for us to see how technology in fridges will advance in the future. At Ocado we have always been committed to evolving our service, and evolving it to work with amazing technological developments around us.

“We were the first supermarket to launch a transactional shopping app for the iPhone; customers can also now shop with us on Android handsets and via iPad. According to the last figures we have released, over 6% of Ocado sales are generated through mobile platforms, showing that customers are open to using technology if it helps making their shopping experience and lives easier.

“We are constantly looking at future technological trends to ensure shopping at Ocado is as convenient, accessible and stress-free as possible.”

Simon Sommerville, Course Leader for Product Design at UCLan suggests that the fridge’s revolutionary advance won’t stop here – predicting UV filters that will self-clean interiors, and sophisticated hands-free loading mechanisms to quickly unpack the weekly shop and distribute it to the right shelves and compartments. This kind of futuristic, streamlined living could be among us and in our kitchens in as little as 50 years.


For further information, please contact:
Frank PR on 0207 693 6951

About Ocado

Ocado ( was established in 2000, started trading in 2002 and is now one of Britain’s leading online supermarkets. Ocado operates a centralised distribution model which means that it does not rely upon a network of stores from which to service customers. Ocado delivers over 20,000 product lines including Waitrose and John Lewis-branded goods and a growing Ocado own-label range; most recently it has launched non-food lines such as toys, magazines, kitchenware and fresh flowers. In June 2010, it scooped Online Retailer of the Year at The Grocer Gold Awards 2010 and Customer Technology of the Year at the BT Retail Week Technology Awards 2010. In October it was named World E-tailer of the Year at the prestigious World Retail Awards.

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