Mobile phones and Tablets aren’t the only things that are getting smarter. CES unveiled more products that point to a Smart future for appliances too.
While the trend for energy efficiency is clearly behind the strategy for new product development, interoperability is also a keyword.
Consumer electronics manufacturers are already turning out millions of networked TVs, DVD players and other interoperable electronics.
Hot on their heels, however, are other connected, smart grid-aware devices, such as thermostats, dishwashers, washing machines, ovens, dryers, refrigerators and other products for the “connected” home, even electric vehicles.
The thinking behind such development is clear. Consumers want more information about usage and more control over plugged-in goods, to drive down energy costs.
For manufacturers and utility providers, this opens up new revenue streams, allowing them to offer services that complement their hardware and bring further energy savings.
Utility companies also have an interest in getting consumers to scale back their power during peak times, such as hot summer days, because that can avoid tapping into costly and polluting power plants to supply those needs.
Manufacturers are however, approaching home energy from different angles. Those who straddle home appliances and consumer electronics, such as Panasonic, Toshiba and LG, see consumers controlling their kitchen appliances, HVAC, lighting and security from their TVs, smart phones or PCs.
Meanwhile home automation companies are bundling their services in a three-pronged attack that includes entertainment, security monitoring and energy management.
Offering connected appliances opens up the possibility for add on services, such as applications that remotely control home entertainment systems and thermostats, such as from Control4’s 4store app store.
Haier, which is the world’s top appliance brand, demonstrated its “Smart Life” ecosystem of internet connected appliances at CES, which makes managing a home even simpler thanks to a remote management functiona.
Owners are able to get information from and instructions to their “Smart Life” refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners from any internet connection, efficiently and securely.
The full system can be used to remotely manage everything from home appliance controls, lighting and curtain controls, multimedia entertainment systems, and monitoring and security alarms, bringing together a number of outstanding features in what is said to be the world’s first wireless-controlled network home appliance system.
According to Zhang Tieyan, Director of Haier’s Global Branding Operation: “Our strategy has always been to listen to our customers and to implement what they tell us they need and want from their home appliances and entertainment systems. We clearly heard the message that today’s consumer wants to engage in a more meaningful way with the technology that helps them in their day to day lives – whether that’s for entertainment or for managing domestic tasks.”
Meanwhile the Whirlpool brand continues to lead the fabric care evolution with the new Vantage top-load washer and dryer, which melds high-end design and high-tech features to offer an intuitive LCD touch screen interface and the industry’s first USB port, which will give consumers access to future upgrades and evolved laundry cycles.
With built-in Cycle-Logic intelligence, consumers can not only select cycles, but also can create their own special cycles, for example a regular wash, or the kids’ school uniform cycle, and everything in between.
In addition to Whirlpool’s Stain Assist laundry app, the Vantage pair comes with 33 special cycles including athletic wear, baby items, stuffed animals, jeans, bath mats, shower curtains, shoes and swimwear.
Kenmore has also incorporated a touch LCD on its front load and top load dish and cooking products. The touch LCD interface places answers and advice at customer’s fingertips, allowing users to get the best performance from the appliance.
Meanwhile LG Electronics debuted 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.
At the heart of the line-up at CES this year were LG’s innovative new smart features — Smart Grid, Smart Diagnosis, Smart Access, Smart Adapt and Food Management — which allow homeowners to manage refrigerators, washing machines, ovens and robotic vacuum cleaners via a smart network.
In combination with LG’s signature technologies, the new innovations are claimed to deliver big savings in energy, time and expense, helping enrich consumers’ lives.
“We’re excited to add home appliances to our largest ever line-up of total LG innovations ever to be shown at CES,” said Young-ha Lee, President and CEO of LG Electronics Home Appliance Company.
“By drawing on LG’s latest IT and mobile technology, our smart appliances promise to be real game changers, offering a big leap forward in convenience and efficiency,” he said.