I found another site that has a slightly more complete answer for how the “fridge of the future” is supposed to work. Nano bio robots upconvert IR into visible light, and send it out of the system. (No, it doesn’t. We call this magic, when we’re in a charitable mood. At other times what we call it involves the biology of used food, sometimes incorporating a male bovine)

But I’ve already said all of that.

The other thing that bothers me about this is that it’s part of Electrolux’s Design Lab competition, and I think they should be embarrassed to have included it. Design is not just aesthetics. If something serves no other function than to evoke a response based on how it looks, it’s art. We like art because it’s pleasing to the eye, or it arouses a certain emotional reaction, or make you think (or some combination thereof). But this wasn’t an art competition. It was a design competition, ostensibly meaning you want the best design. Design brings with it an additional requirement: it has to work.

Design incorporates a lot of things, and it’s not like experimental physicists are routinely mistaken a great designers. We tend to swing to the other end of the spectrum; if it works, who cares what it looks like? We’re the only ones who are going to use it, so why make the controls intuitive? Our experiments typically involve duct tape, parts held together with bits of wire and cables everywhere, and few labels. If you want design, you need to talk to an engineer — s/he will make it work, and do so in a more efficient fashion, put it in a box and make it (somewhat) easier to use. We than measure the quality of design by the attractiveness of the package and the level of user-friendliness, and great design is hard because you are trying to optimize for multiple variables, with often conflicting constraints — one demand might be that it’s small, but another requirement needs it to be big, etc. It’s hard to do all that. But the unspoken part of all of this is that the box has to do what it’s supposed to do — if it doesn’t meet spec, we tend to get mad and demand it be fixed, or give us our money back.

So an item that can’t possibly work can’t be an example of good design. It shouldn’t even get in the door.