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'Empowered' Appliances Link Home, Internet
Get a good look at the smart-home tools making waves at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
January 8, 2015
Washer, dryer, and water heater, get ready to meet smartphone, tablet, and app.
Hooking up time-honored home equipment to the Internet is the latest trend being touted by some of the biggest names in the appliance industry at this year's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The new appliances represent "a really exciting opportunity for Whirlpool … to do what we do best, which is helping families care for one another," said Ben Artis, senior category manager of connected homes for Whirlpool. "You can empower the appliances to offer new benefits that weren't possible before."
Whirlpool plans eventually to expand the app-based technology to other categories of appliances, such as ranges, ovens, and refrigerators. The company's booth at CES features an exhibit that displays its vision for the kitchen of the future, a concept that closely integrates appliance operation with the cooking requirements of specific recipes.
The drive toward linking devices to one another — an accelerating trend known as the Internet of Things — is spawning innovation across the electronics industry and playing a prominent role at CES.
In a packed keynote address at the start of the show, Boo-Keun Yoon, president and CEO of Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., declared that 2015 will be the year when many of the futuristic promises companies have made about getting devices to work together will finally become real.
"These are not pipe dreams anymore," Yoon said, adding that by 2017, 90 percent of the products Samsung produces — including TVs, mobile phones, and home appliances — will be linked to the Internet of Things, or IoT.
Yoon also said companies must take steps to ensure that the IoT-based products they manufacture adhere to open standards, so equipment from one company is able to work with software and hardware from another.
Yoon was joined onstage by other leaders of the IoT movement who laid out their vision for a world where machines go beyond communicating with each other to responding to — and even anticipating — people's needs. For example, working in tandem, a user's smartphone, heating system, and other Internet-linked equipment could learn when that person tends to go to sleep and under what conditions. Then it can adjust the temperature of the user's bedroom to promote a good night's sleep.
Many companies exhibiting at CES are developing products that aim to take advantage of the ability of individual devices to communicate.
Meanwhile, California-based Savant unveiled an app by the same name that aims to enable disparate connected-home systems to communicate with one another as well as with the company's own hardware for linking entertainment, climate control, lighting, and security devices.