Samsung created a version of Evernote to embed in a prototype refrigerator. Credit: Troy Malone/Evernote.
Soon, you may be able to buy a refrigerator with Evernote built into it. Really. At CES, Samsung showed off a prototype version of its T9000 fridge, which included an embedded touchscreen computer running a custom version of Evernote.
Reactions to the T9000 ran strong. Some people thought it was a good idea and got the benefit. Others saw it as ridiculous excess. After all, if you can afford the high-end T9000, chances are you’ll have a nice smartphone in your pocket when you’re standing in front of it in your kitchen. But the product struck a nerve.
As unusual as a fridge/Evernote mashup may appear today, the idea of having access to your notebooks no matter where you are, or on whatever device is most convenient for you at the moment, is the essence of Evernote. If you want to take a note while working at your desk, use your computer. If you’re at dinner and want to remember a bottle of wine, use your smartphone. In bed reading your Web Clips? Tablet. Jotting down ideas for an art project? A Moleskine notebook (preferably the Evernote Smart Notebook).
And if you see that you’re out of eggs, why not put a reminder into the Evernote screen sitting on the door you’re holding open? Or, if you’re following a recipe you’ve saved in Evernote, wouldn’t it be nice to see it on a screen that’s designed to survive in the kitchen, instead of using a tablet while trying to keep your ingredients off of it?
We believe that many types of devices can be made more useful when given access to relevant personal data and memories. Information is contextual. Beyond that, the refrigerator is a special device. It’s a source of nourishment and a hub for memories (at least on refrigerators with traditional, magnetic fronts). It’s emotional. Combine the fridge-as-hearth concept with the deeply personal nature of Evernote, and you can see where the strong reactions to the T9000 come from.
We are moving to a world where our devices are augmented by data and connections. An Evernote fridge is one example, but there are others: The Nest connected thermostat, the Pebble watch that displays your email, the car that knows where home is.
Data makes physical products personal. Evernote is a place to store personal data, so we fully expect that there will be more physical products that reflect their owner’s personality or memories by attaching them to their Evernote accounts.
We won’t build all of them. In fact, Evernote didn’t build the software in the Evernote fridge. The Samsung T9000’s Evernote client was created by Samsung itself. We think that’s great, and we encourage any developer or manufacturer to take a swing at an app like this by using the Evernote platform.
Samsung execs knew the prototype T9000 built for CES would get buzz, but even they were surprised by the reactions. Expect more surprises like this as smart fridges — and more Evernote-enabled products — start to enter the market.
See also: Engadget’s T9000 hands-on photos.
Rafe Needleman is Evernote’s Platform Advocate, and author of Evernote’s Opportunity Notes blog about startups.