Home appliances get 'smart' at CES

Jan 08, 2011 by Charlotte Raab

Mobile phones aren't the only things getting smart. Home appliances are too.

On display at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) here along with the latest smartphones and touchscreen tablet computers are ovens, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, refrigerators and other products for the "connected" home.

South Korea's LG Electronics is attracting the most buzz on the home front with its line of "Thinq" household appliances which are connected to a home Wi-Fi network and can be controlled by a smartphone or a computer.

LG refrigerators with touchscreen LCD displays let users keep tabs on where food items have been placed in the machine and when they expire.

"You can use a drag and drop system with icons or voice commands," said Patrick Steinkuhl, product insight manager at LG Electronics USA.

"You can say things like 'Ground beef top shelf.' It has default expiration dates built in but if you want to change those you can," he said. "You're in complete control."

An owner of the LG refrigerator can access its contents while shopping via a smartphone and figure out, for example, whether they need to pick up another gallon of milk or orange juice.

"I have the ability to see what's in my fridge from my phone," Steinkuhl said.

"We're connecting devices that have never been connected before and we're connecting them to you," he said.

"In the past we had the technology to do this but we never had the infrastructure to support the technology," he said. "Now we're there.

"We have the capacity to support smartphones and smart software and Wi-Fi is a very strong way to connect," Steinkuhl said.

LG is also displaying an oven that can access a home computer server, download preprogrammed recipes and display them on a screen built into the front of the machine.

"It shows all of the ingredients and the cooking process," Steinkuhl said. "And when my roast is finished cooking it will a message to my phone that says 'Your roast is done.'"

LG is also showing off washing machines that can be instructed to run at the most cost-effective times and a camera-equipped robot vacuum cleaner, the Hom-Bot, that can be told remotely to start cleaning the floor.

The camera embedded in the robot can also be used to keep an eye on the house while the owner is away.

US home appliance giant General Electric is making its first appearance at CES to show off its home energy management solutions including "Nucleus," which gives consumers information about electricity consumption.

Nucleus, which is expected to be available later this year, works with smart meters, smart appliances, programmable thermostats and software applications to help homeowners monitor their usage and reduce their electricity bills.

Joseph McGuire, the president of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, said US government energy standards -- and tax credits for energy efficient appliances -- were a big driver for innovation in the sector.

Ultimately, though, it's consumers who will decide, he said, with the ability to cut down on electricity bills a prime motivating factor.

It's not just the standard household items such as washers and dryers which are taking advantage of the latest technology, other home devices on display here are too.

Cedric Hutchings, co-founder of Withings, a French start-up showing off a baby monitor, a blood pressure monitor and other products at CES, said smart devices are opening up all kinds of new possibilities for the home.

The Withings baby monitor features a camera equipped with night vision that can send pictures and audio to an iPhone or any other device with a connected screen.

A microphone allows parents to talk to the child from another room and they can be awoken by alarms if a baby's sleep is disrupted.

Explore further: Bringing history and the future to life with augmented reality

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Smart grid' would save energy, cut costs for US consumers

Jan 05, 2011

Momentum is building for a new energy "smart grid" that would overhaul the U.S.'s 100-year-old electrical power network. The impact would be huge –– from installation of a new web of electrical transmission lines ...

General Electric Plans Net-Zero Energy Home by 2015

Jul 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Using solar panels, wind turbines, appliance monitoring, and on-site energy storage, General Electric has a plan to enable homeowners to cut their annual energy consumption (from the electric ...

Recommended for you

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Neuroscientist's idea wins new-toy award

Apr 15, 2014

When he was a child, Robijanto Soetedjo used to play with his electrically powered toys for a while and then, when he got bored, take them apart - much to the consternation of his parents.

Land Rover demos invisible bonnet / car hood (w/ video)

Apr 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —Land Rover has released a video demonstrating a part of its Discover Vision Concept—the invisible "bonnet" or as it's known in the U.S. the "hood" of the car. It's a concept the automaker ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2011
Oh come on idjits. "Cost effective time" for operating a washer or dryer?

Unless you have like 95% solar, electricity costs the same day or night.

At this point, since nobody is REALLY working on alternative energy infrastructure, these devices are mostly a waste of time and a waste of the consumer's money.

We have "Energy Star" washer and dryer, and I swear you have to spin dry everything twice, and then it takes two hours for the dryer to dry the clothes anyway. The old "inefficient" washers and dryers were cheaper, lasted longer, and worked faster and cheaper.

It's really stupid to pay for a washer or dryer with a computer and wi-fi until you actually have max load solar power. Then you figure the energy cost of the computer components being on 24/7 probably offsets most or all of whatever energy savings you'd have anyway.

So many epic fails on so many of these "green" technologies. It's sad this stuff gets pawned off on people.
Justsayin
5 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2011
QC, just an F.Y.I. the cost of electricity is about 50-60% of on peak regular rates from 1 A.M. to 5 A.M. (off peak time) so a simple $15 timer washes and dries my clothes while I sleep at a discount.... at least here in Florida.

More news stories

First steps towards "Experimental Literature 2.0"

As part of a student's thesis, the Laboratory of Digital Humanities at EPFL has developed an application that aims at rearranging literary works by changing their chapter order. "The human simulation" a saga ...

TCS, Mitsubishi to create new Japan IT services firm

India's biggest outsourcing firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Japan's Mitsubishi Corp said Monday they are teaming up to create a Japanese software services provider with annual revenues of $600 million.

Finnish inventor rethinks design of the axe

(Phys.org) —Finnish inventor Heikki Kärnä is the man behind the Vipukirves Leveraxe, which is a precision tool for splitting firewood. He designed the tool to make the job easier and more efficient, with ...

Meth mouth menace

Something was up in Idaho. While visiting a friend in Athol, a small town north of Coeur d'Alene, Jennifer Towers, director of research affairs at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, noticed ...