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Consumer electronics mash-ups

As frustrated as one can get with the US sometimes, it is truly a marvelous land of plenty. In the past few months, I’ve run across some remarkable consumer items which I’d like to share with you.

  • A microwave oven with a radio in it. With a little tinkering, you may be able to take the FM signal coming into the radio and convert it into microwaves to cook the food. Lite jazz will cook that baked potato nice n’ slow or crank the hard rock station if you’re in a hurry to scorch your Healthy Choice.
  • A mounted deer head that sings and talks. I know you’re all familiar with that mounted bass that plays music, but this is a whole deer head we’re talking about here. I was too amazed to note any of the songs or whether the deer lip-synchs along, but I’m sure that when you plug this sucker in, whatever it does is wonderful. It’s singing taxidermy fer crissakes!
  • A refrigerator with a TV. For that 3-4 seconds it takes you to get a glass of orange juice when you’re away from the TV just in the other room. Oh, and if the TV part breaks, good luck getting it fixed. Also, there didn’t appear to be a Refrigerator Channel for viewing inside the fridge to avoid letting that precious cool out while your teenage son stands with the door (and his mouth) open for three minutes deciding what to eat/drink.

Convergence is grand, ain’t it?

Reader comments

jakeOct 21, 2005 at 6:19PM

how about some linkage to these products?

Garrick Van BurenOct 21, 2005 at 6:23PM

The singing deer head entranced me at a Menards this summer. I was on my way to building materials, then....I remember Jen pulled me away. Not sure how much time I lost.

Nathan SmithOct 21, 2005 at 6:32PM

I had the same thought when I was on LG's site looking for flat-screen monitors: "Who the heck would actually stand at their fridge and watch TV?" I could understand maybe an above-the-stove TV, if you really can't get away from your favorite show while you cook. But, the fridge - nobody actually takes that long at this particular applicance.

jonkoppOct 21, 2005 at 7:46PM

The deer head was singing "Rawhide" and "Sweet Home Alabama" when I walked by tonight.


TinoOct 21, 2005 at 10:00PM

Everyone makes fun of the refrigerator TV, but I would love for a decent one (i.e. a decent TV in the door of a decent fridge -- the ones I've seen are all essentially gimmicks) to come on the market. It's not about being able to watch TV while fetching food, but about combining two pieces of hardware in what is generally the most crowded room in the house.

My kitchen is arranged in such a way that the seats at the island breakfast bar thing face the stove, the microwave, and the fridge. The only place to put a TV without losing a lot of counter space (and subjecting the TV to a lot of splashes etc.) is directly behind the only comfortable place to sit. I like to watch the TV news in the morning while eating breakfast, so a TV on the front of the refrigerator would be great.

Yes, I have thought of a mirror, but that works only if you look at the mirror from a single angle.

Spring BreakOct 21, 2005 at 10:41PM

Do you know how many games are won and lost during the beer run?

And don't forget the bathroom mirror with built in TV!

Pete ProdoehlOct 21, 2005 at 10:57PM

Jason, I'd like to see you get a glass of orange juice in under 5 seconds. Without spilling. It should take about 30 seconds, just enough time to watch a commercial.

Personally I don't have a TV in the kitchen, I have an iMac. Now, putting an iMac in the refrigerator would be a much better idea!

Jason ColemanOct 21, 2005 at 11:15PM

Although my kitchen is almost too small to make a television/fridge combo even more impractical than your suggesting (actually, it's so small as to almost make a fridge impractical), I can actually see that being useful. I wouldn't mind having CNN on in the morning while having coffee and a bagel and making my sandwich for lunch. That's old-school multi-tasking. Also, it'd be cool to be able to actually work along with a cooking show I recorded earlier on TiVo and beamed to the kitchen television/fridge. Of course, now I might just be getting greedy in my convergence-induced stupor.

Oh, couldn't the fridge also have the FM tuner built in. Also, maybe just a video of the singing dear head. That'd do for me while I watched it on my fridge.

kate the greatOct 21, 2005 at 11:27PM

Hey, people. Like, allow yourself some time NOT TO BE WATCHING THE IDIOT BOX. How about, oh, I don't know, THINKING? Or composing haiku in your head. TV eats brains.

Sorry I shouted. I'm new here.

Matt HaugheyOct 21, 2005 at 11:34PM

Or... instead of worrying about missing that key part of the game while you fetch a beer, why not just add the ability to pause live TV? A TiVo is like $50 now, c'mon people. You get your own super-slo-mo instant replays too.

nickOct 22, 2005 at 12:11AM

Gemmy Talking Buck - The Animated Trophy. same company as billy the bass.
heavily linked via Inhabitat's post.
whilst an awful toy, its hacking potential is great.
Animatronics Alicebot Project; Talking Buck

ndfOct 22, 2005 at 12:28AM

The particular model of singing-mounted-deer-head I saw not only did Willie Nelson, it also had an input jack for a microphone. Unfortunately, I didn't see that function in action, but hopefully it does some sort of lipsync to the microphone input.

spygeekOct 22, 2005 at 12:29AM

You really just like throwing around "mash-up", don't you? That's twice in one day.

Mark M. SmithOct 22, 2005 at 2:39AM

Almost nobody uses their TiVo to actually watch live tv though. You record stuff and then watch it later. Partially this is due to convenience and partly because you can only record or watch one thing at a time, but you can watch anything that's been pre-recorded whenever you want since it doesn't require the use of the tuner.

That said the idea of a fridge-mounted TV is pretty much in line with what everyone else has been saying. It's designed to put a TV into a small enviroment by converging it with a large item that pretty much just sits there with plenty of empty space. Frankly I can see these being pretty popular in Japan (always a fan of gadgets and convergence not to mention the often cramped housing) and to a lesser extent in Europe.

In my mind the stupid TV idea is the one with colored ambient light. While ambient light is important to prevent eyestrain and thus make your picture look its best this is really only an issue with CRTs, not plasma displays. Besides I personally think it would be a bit distracting.

KristenOct 22, 2005 at 6:12AM

There are singing deer and moose heads in the Country Bear Jamboree in Disney World. :)

Alex DorphOct 22, 2005 at 10:28AM

I personally think the tv in fridge idea is a bad one simply because people dont want to spend the extra money. Thats all! A few guys will get it, mabe the rappers on cribs, but I just dont see a huge market for this. People do care about money, at least where I live.

I would more prefer an OLED screen, small one, in various places that would show something simple. Weather, stocks, news... But even then, I think I enjoy having to go to certain parts of the house to do certain things. I am sure I could use the cardio...

Bathroom Review

Mohamed Marwen MeddahOct 22, 2005 at 10:38AM

I personally think the 3 products are useless.
The deer head is freaky. The only good thing I could use something like that for is to freak my older relatives out by making it sing when they least expect it.

As for the fridge, I agree with everyone who said it is completely useless as no one stands in front of their fridge long enough to watch anything. Plus when you're in front of the fridge, you're opening it and looking inside to get something, not staring at it's front watching something.

When it comes to the microwave oven, well it's the most useful of the 3 useless products, I guess.

ChaunceyOct 22, 2005 at 10:52AM

I got one of those see inside the refrigerator closed circuit TVs, but every time I close the refrigerator door, the light goes out.

benOct 22, 2005 at 11:18AM

Let us not forget the country that manufactures many of these remarkable consumer items...China.

Tarriffs prevent free trade.

cyber-redOct 22, 2005 at 1:04PM

I think they took the cue from the singing plastic fish.. who churns out 'Don't worry be happy' and its head turns 90 degrees when someone passes by =P

AIM ForumOct 22, 2005 at 3:07PM

A refrigerator with a built-in flat screen is quite a good idea and will probably be ubiquitous in a few years. But why leave it at the screen being used for watching television? It could just as well be a touchscreen that's connected to your computer and allows you to play music, watch movies, check your email, and be alerted to incoming IMs.

RyanOct 22, 2005 at 3:10PM

Somebody took a trip to Walmart.

MattOct 22, 2005 at 4:49PM

What about a (a href="">piece of lingerie you can keep your cell phone and other assorted electronics in? Finally.

emilyOct 22, 2005 at 10:47PM

My vote for the new product that proves America is #1 is this thing:

Yes, it's a 6 foot tall inflatable "snow globe" yard decoration, that lights up and has "real" blowing snow inside! They put up a display of these in the supermarket near me, and I stood rooted to the spot in awe.

Shawn LeaOct 22, 2005 at 11:41PM

I saw the Talking Deer Head in Wal-Mart yesterday in the Sporting Goods Dept. with the microphone plugged in. You can not only sing along with the songs - you can use it to scare the hell out of your friends (or shoppers, it would seem).

A father and son couldn't stop playing with it. They were hiding in an aisle and making the deer talk while unexpecting shoppers walked by. It was pretty hilarious. It should definitely be on the lineup for Candid Camera.

pjOct 23, 2005 at 8:29AM

forget refrigerators, what i really want is the star trek food thing. you just push some buttons next to a rectangle in the wall and it makes that psssht noise and your meal appears. on a plate. although i could do without the square glasses, because, actually, my mouth is not square. liquid would dribble right down your - in my case, unquestionably red - uni.

oh, forget buttons. you should be able to just talk to the wall.

damn you, shatner.

nickOct 23, 2005 at 4:37PM

talking of hacking toys..
Making Toys (via)

MoiseOct 23, 2005 at 6:03PM

I want RFID tags on everything in my fridge. I want my fridge to know what I have stored inside it and how long it's been there. When I need to go grocery shopping, I can print out a list of items that may be going bad (milk, eggs, etc..) and items that I had in there but are no longer there(probably eaten/thrown out).

If it plays TV too, then great.. If it only plays TV, then I will pass.

TomOct 24, 2005 at 6:34AM

A Toaster Telephone, when you answer the phone the bread falls out.

ApOct 24, 2005 at 8:00AM

Hah, over this side of the pond we have the amazing SMS Kettle

essOct 24, 2005 at 1:20PM

I can't see the use of TV fridge thing as I haul my TV all over the house and use it a weird angles and stuff, but if I had a singing Deer Head I would probably never watch TV again - not unless I could get a mutated deer head with giant TV eyes so I could watch TV on the deer while it spoke the subtitles.

That's it. I can't be happy until I have a singing Megaloceros giganteus with TVs in it's mutatedly oversized eyes that will speak and sing along with every show I watch.

And if my fridge is going to keep track of something, it should be able to give my boyfriend a not-at-all-mild electric shock if he spills something in the fridge and does not clean it up.

David MartinezOct 30, 2005 at 2:27AM

We need to return to the time we we as americans were producers instead of consumers.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.