I can see clearly now – transparent home appliances

September 7th, 2015

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I can see clearly now

Recent news out of IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin – Europe’s premier consumer electronics and home appliances trade show) tells us that an interesting new prototype refrigerator being shown off to the world. One that does something so simple, that the fact it hasn’t been done before actually makes it rather innovative:

The clear refrigerator

Brought to us from Haier, the Smart Window Refrigerator includes a window built into the door that allows you to see inside the fridge and know exactly how full or empty it is.

Thanks to the awesome team at CNET for the video!

It may not sound like much – I mean, if you really want to see inside the fridge, all you need to do is open the door – but you’d be surprised by how big a difference such a minor feature could provide. After all, how many of us have spend far too long staring at the open fridge, trying to figure out what to eat next?

It got us thinking about some other examples of see-through appliances, both existing and imaginary, and what kind of impact they’d have on the household:

Clear dishwashers

Are there any 30 Rock fans in the house? Yes? No? Well, I’m about to spoil the ending of the finale, so consider yourself warned.


In one of the show’s final scenes, Jack Donaghy (played handsomely by Alec Baldwin) has resigned from his career-defining corporate executive position for complicated reasons, and is about to set off on a round the world sailing trip to find himself.

Not ten seconds after saying his final goodbyes to Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon and sailing away, he turns the boat around, having come up with the following revolutionary idea:

“Good God, Lemon, I just figured it all out: clear dishwashers! You can see what’s going on inside! It’s the best idea I’ve ever had. Thank God I took that boat trip…”

Jack goes on to sell this idea back to General Electric, where he is re-hired and put back on top where he belongs.

A suitably ridiculous ending to wrap up this show (which incidentally, also predicted certain isues with voice-controlled TVs – don’t worry, the real-life versions work much better), but it got us thinking – why DON’T we have clear dishwashers?

Ultimately, this is probably a manufacturing issue. Until we can affordably develop a  transparent glass or plastic-like material that can reliably handle the humid and high-temperature environment of a typical dishwasher (perhaps some kind of transparent aluminium), the only clear dishwashers we’re likely to see with any regularity are the demonstration models found at technology shows, such as the Samsung WaterWall above.

Transparent toasters

Again, this sounds like a no-brainer – why hasn’t someone developed a toaster that lets you see the bread as it cooks? This wouldn’t just be a fascinating novelty to watch, but it’d help reduce the odds of ending up with nasty black-burned toast because we misjudged the best settings while half-asleep in the morning.

Well, this idea does exist – originally as a novelty concept, but as shown in the video above, it has been sold as the real thing.

Glass oven doors

A couple of appliances that do regularly include a transparent component are the stove and wall oven, which almost always include a glass panel in the door for watching your food cook. This isn’t just convenient; it’s practically essential to prepare cetain baking recipes without suffering a calamitous collapse.

Unfortunately, not all oven doors are created equal, and often the glass panel is a small thing, or not well lit, so you can only see a vague hint of your meal inside as it cooks.

But there are ovens that feature extra-large glass panels for keeping better track of what’s going on inside. And for safety’s sake, it’s usually worth choosing an oven with multiple layers of glass in the door, or one that uses an internal cooling fan to keep the glass cooler to touch during cooking.

See-through kettles

Even the simplest kettles often include a glass indicator to the side that shows the water level, allowing you to tell at a glance whether the jug needs a quick top-up.

Breville Kettle BKE595Breville Kettle BKE595

Kettles made entirely from glass or other see-through materials are much less common, but they do exist! And they’d be perfect for disproving the old saying “a watched pot never boils” – it’s boiling RIGHT THERE, in front of you!

Visible vacuums

One of the best parts of owning a bagless vacuum is being able to see at a glance exactly how full the dust container is.

Bissell Powerforce Vacuum Cleaner 1292UBissell Powerforce Vacuum Cleaner 1292U

Unlike when using some bagged vacuums, where you often have to deduce that the bag was full from the complete lack of suction, then lose a bunch of time sorting out a replacement bag (though tossing out a full dust bag can be much neater than emptying some dust containers).

Is there a type of appliance you reckon would be greatly improved by seeing right through it? Share your best ideas!


Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

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