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August 30, 2014

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Appliances getting smarter: You could get a text from this fridge

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Steve Marcus

Workers arrange a display of home appliances at an LG Electronics booth at the Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Jan. 8, 2012.

CES coverage

Appliance makers at this year’s International Consumer Electronics show presented a bold vision for a futuristic home, where everything from your washing machine to your oven is connected through the Internet and easily accessible from a smartphone or tablet.

Referred to as smart appliances, manufacturers are pitching the products as the next step in simplifying living.

Imagine a refrigerator that can let you know when you’re out of milk as you leave work, an LG representative said, or a washing machine that texts your phone when your laundry is done.

“It’s about consumer convenience. It’s about time management,” LG representative Randy Overton said. “We’re all so busy in our day-to-day lives, so we’re trying to make things a bit easier.”

At the LG display, a refrigerator model with an LCD touch panel can display its contents and alert the user if groceries are getting close to their expiration date.

Smart appliances will eventually let people monitor their laundry remotely or to start preheating the oven before dinner, Overton said.

LG plans to begin rolling out smart models before the end of the year, and the devices will continue to be improved upon with the ultimate goal of creating an integrated household.

At the Haier booth, a smart wine chiller was on display that allows users to monitor and adjust the temperature as needed from a smartphone. The chiller can also store information about the different bottles of wine it is holding and can even notify the owner if it loses power.

Toshiba took the smart-home concept one step further, with a scripted performance by representatives in a mock living room that was meant to showcase a house that can all be controlled by a central device, which Toshiba calls a Life Design Box.

“Smart means keeping everything comfortable without you even knowing it,” one Toshiba representative said.

Toshiba’s technology is also aimed at reducing power consumption and relies on the further development of Smart Grid technology and the widespread installation of smart electrical meters in houses.

The energy optimization technology can predict a home’s power demand and can shape consumption to maximize efficiency.

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  1. Chunky says:

    Sure but sooner or later all these "smart" devices and cars are going to be the target of viruses and malicious code!

    Instead of calling the Maytag repairman or Mr. Goodwrench we'll have to call the Geek Squad to remove the dreaded cucumber virus from our fridge!

    That's what Chunky thinks!

  2. Now my comments are from a "woman's point of view" and unless you men out there do all the housekeeping, cooking, cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping, try to see it thru THAT point of view and be nice!

    Some of this technology is pretty neat like reducing power consumption - BUT.....unless the washing machine can load and unload itself, being able to remotely turn it on is a waste of time.

    Turning on the oven remotely?????? Please..... Again - what is being cooked has to be put IN the oven. Is there an app for that? BTW - it takes only a few minutes to pre-heat the newer ovens. Don't know about anyone else, but I 'd rather be present when the oven, ie gas, is turned on!!!

    And as far as the refrigerator is concerned, and not sure if this "feature" would be included with the "telling you what you need to buy" (IMO the ultimate laziness on the human's part), it would be nice if it would "scan" the contents and tell you what is old and should be thrown out. But again - what have we become if we can't manage the food in our refrigerators??!!! If we have to depend on apps on our cell phones to do basic housekeeping and make a grocery list, we HAVE become the laziest society ever!!!

    Now I would like an app to turn on a vacuuming device so the vacuuming could be done before I (a) get up in the morning or (b) when I'm working.

    When will they come up with an app for dusting, too???

    And as Chunky said - if something goes wrong, have to call in the Geek Squad and your repair bills would be quite high; just think of the newer cars and their computers.

  3. Det_Munch: "it would be nice if it would "scan" the contents and tell you what is old and should be thrown out."

    That is actually in the near future. RF (radio frequency) tags will enable this. The cost of the tags has hit 1 cent each and Wal Mart is testing them. You will be able to push your cart through a scanner and receive a total instantly. When loading your fridge the fridge will recognize what is in it and be able to give you a list, expirations, what can be made with available ingredients, etc. Technology is great.

  4. Lynn

    Sounds interesting. Is the food supplier responsible for the tag or the merchant, ie Blue Bunny v. Walmart? Then those "expiration dates", which are easier and cheaper, will become obsolete. I pay attention to those --- MOST of the time!!! It's those "Mmmmm...I wonder if this is still good" items that are a few days past the expiration date!

    I usually know when food needs to be tossed (the neighborhood racoons and other wild life love me!!), and I'm sure most people here would - no amount of Arm & Hammer will mask the smell!! But I do know that seniors (older seniors, over 75) are more apt to NOT throw food away. I know of one little old lady that refuses to toss things and keeps everything!! There is nothing mentally wrong with her, ie dementia; she just doesn't like to waste things and when it was time to clean the fridge, I understand it was disgusting!! A tag would be good for people like that IF they have someone watching over them and their refrigerator!!!

    Bottom line: Nothing beats looking at those expiration dates!! And depend on your eyes and nose....