Our first meetup in San Francisco is coming on Jan 23, 2020. Learn more.

Design a “smart fridge”. Take me through the steps to come up with the product.
Post and review answers and feedback to answers in the comments section of this post.
+2 votes
Post and review answers and feedback to answers in the comments section of this post.
in Product Design by (716 points) | 515 views

2 Answers

+2 votes

1. Are we designing this fridge for homes or commercial places like restaurants? – Home
2. Is there a goal we have in mind with this fridge? – Yes, we want to sell more. and also make our customers eat healthy. We already have products in that category.
3. Do we have competitors who are already selling smart fridges? Yes, we have Samsung.
4. Is there a region we are specifically trying to launch this? – US

I think this is enough to get me started, I will clarify more details as we move forward. Let me first state out what I understand from this question. We want to design a smart fridge to keep family customers healthy and also sell more in that category. Normally a US home has a mom, a dad and a kid. There could be old people and people with other disabilities in the house, with the interest of time let us focus on just mom, dad and kids. No pets. The major or frequent users being mom and dad of the family who cook regularly. I would want to focus on a two door fridge with a freezer, water cooler and shelf space to store enough groceries for a week and some space for items that last a few months. That is the most normal fridge I normally see in homes. Is that fair to assume. – Yes, go ahead.

Let us look at the context of the users. Parents use the fridge more frequently. Parents are working as well, and they do not have time to monitor and buy groceries every time. They usually order from amazon fresh or other online groceries or visit Walmart/Costco once a month. They would like to always eat fresh vegetables and finish all packaged stuff well before the expiry. They also wouldn’t want to eat something that is rotten obviously. Kids only open to the fridge to pick up some quick grabs like chocolates, ice-creams or yogurt. Parents know that kids eat a lot of sweets. They would want to have a limit on how much sugar consumption their kids have every day. So, we can make the fridge smart in few different ways here.

1. Add sensors to detect the total nutritional value it holds and display that on a screen. These sensors can also monitor consumption of nutritional element that the family is intaking to provide alerts if they needed to consume more/less of something in general with specific food items sugesstions. I want it to detect the face of the person and identify what people are eating in order to monitor their nutrition.
2. I would want to control it with an app or talk. Connecting to a home automation device is also good. It also can be a standalone refrigerator with AI, but let’s explore that later.
3. I would want the fridge to detect the food inside it and adjust the temperature based on it in different regions of the fridge. I would expect it to do it in order to preserve the food better and become more energy efficient.
4. I want it to order stuff that we eat regularly and ask permission if it want to order something outside out diets.
5. Set dietary restrictions and family member details in order for it to optimize accordingly.
6. I would want it to detect any problems it has automatically and report it to the problems.

I think these are a good number of ideas. Let us prioritize these based on
1. Development effort
2. Customer delight
3. Market differentiation

According to our corporate goals and vision, delighting the customers with the best product design is our primary initiative. As nobody has really succeeded in selling more smart fridges, we have time we can allocate to development. Pricing is not a concern as we are focussing more on the high end of the market. Assuming we do not have any resource constraints. Scoring (L/M/S). Scoring each idea here

1. L, L, L
2. Assuming we just want an app for now to lower the TTM. – S, M, S
3. M, S, S
4. S, M, S
5. S, L, M
6. S, S, S

Based on the above, my feature and roadmap would be

V1 – 1, 2, 4

In V1, I think #1 can be a little tricky to implement. As we know moms cook more than dads in general, the system might be fooled into assuming that moms are eating more food. So, we will keep the nutritional profile collective to family in V1 and figure out individual in future releases.

V2 – 5, 3, 6 and some room to incorporate feedback from V1.

See less
0 votes


1. Clarify the question

2, Identify user/persona

3. Identify pain points

4. Brainstorm solutions to pain points

5. Prioritize solutions, evaluate which to implement and propose recommendation

Clarifying Qs

1. What is this fridge for; commercial, retail, or consumer use? Consumer

2. Who is this fridge for? Typical family; parents + kids

3. Where is this fridge being sold? USA

4. What are the goals? Improve the overall fridge experience that consumers experience today 

5. Define "smart;" what do you mean by "smart"? Define "smart" as you see fit 

*** Moment to brainstorm pain points ***

1. Can't find what looking for 

2. Shelves are too high for kids

3. Something expired and you need it now

4. Light is dying/flickering

5. Door doesn't close properly

6. Don't know what you have/don't have/running out of

Brainstorm solutions

1. Identifies objects in fridge and their location, so user can ask "where is the milk?" and it can respond "top shelf, on the right, next to the OJ"

2. Shelves can be raised/lowered by control panel inside the fridge so kids can reach items on high shelves and space can be optimized

3. It scans bar codes of products and sends phone alerts (to those who opt in) if something is nearing expiration, or if something is  running low and provides option to order it online from grocery delivery preference (if something is being taken out a lot, that can be an indicator that something is "running low")

4. Connects to calendar so knows when family is going out of town and to stop reordering perishables if running low 

5. Tell it "I need breakfast ideas" and it will generate ideas/recipes/quick fixes based on what is inside. Additional queries can be "what should I bring for lunch" or "what's a good post-workout snack?"

6. If lightbulb is dying, it can notify users X hours in advance 

7. Beeps if not closed properly 

Prioritize solutions and provide recommendation

Prioritize based on:

1. Impact/delight to user

2. Ease of implementation

3. Cost to develop


1. Technology can be challenging to develop, high R&D costs

2. Easy to incorporate and positive impact

3. Bar codes can be obstructed or hard to capture, might need to build in many scanners which can be expensive, not applicable for anything without a bar code (home made foods, or anything taken out of original packaging)

4. Can be possible to sync to calendar, but confusing for fridge if multiple calendars with different travel schedules are connected 

5. Technology/AI can be expensive to develop, but can be impactful for users

6. Possible, easy to implement

7. Possible, easy to implement


Based on the evalution, I would start with numbers 2, 6 and 7 and then move on to develop number 5 to improve the overall fridge experience for consumers. 

See less
by (45 points)
Your name to display (optional):
Privacy: Your email address will only be used for sending these notifications.
To avoid this verification in future, please log in or register.
Your name to display (optional):
Privacy: Your email address will only be used for sending these notifications.
To avoid this verification in future, please log in or register.