High technology comes to household appliances

Refrigerators that inventory their contents and provide you with recipes, and text you if you forget to shut the door…dishwashers and other appliances that you can control from your smartphone or tablet with a special app. Some fridges also have Facebook apps so you can update your status as you stand there (I was just wondering the other day why I can’t do that!), check your Calendar and To-do lists. Yes, really…while standing in front of your refrigerator.

And you probably thought you had a mobile device for that!

In a story apparently left over from CES, there’s a story on PCWorld.com about all these things:

George and Judy Jetson would feel right at home at the CES floor here [Las Vegas]. With smart washing machines, magic remotes, and refrigerators that blast Top 40 hits, the automated home has arrived.

Sure, some of the home “innovations” we’ve seen at CES are a little laughable. Do we really need dancing robot vacuum cleaners or refrigerators that post Facebook updates? Maybe not. But home automation is becoming more capable and impressive, if only because we’re realizing these fantasy homes are finally possible. (See also “Smart home appliances are a big deal at CES 2013.”)

Smart, smarter, smartest

“Smart” is the buzzword that just won’t die, particularly when it comes to home appliances.

Remember when a dishwasher was just a dishwasher? Those days are long gone. Now your dishwasher is smart—Internet connectivity gives it an app for a brain. We’ve seen plenty of smart appliances at CES over the past few years, but Wi-Fi now connects your refrigerator to your oven to dishwasher to your phone.

But it isn’t enough to control your dishwasher remotely with just a swipe on your smartphone. LG touted a more intelligent intelligent line of appliances equipped with Near-Field Communication technology. Now, you can scan the NFC tag on your dishwasher with your mobile device to activate and control the appliance and connect it to the rest of your wireless kitchen gear.

Your refrigerator can take inventory of its motley assortment of ingredients and offer recipes to use them up. You choose a menu and send it to your oven, which preheats to the specified temperature and alerts your smartphone when your meal is finished. It’s like you’re not even there.

When I was in college there was a guy who lived near our apartment that claimed his refrigerator talked to him. I’m not suggesting that this individual frequently enjoyed recreational drugs as his favorite pastime (he did), but just that he had some interesting interpretations. He claimed that the appliance was using a series of mechanical grunts and  whirrs in attempts to communicate with him.

When we scoffed at him, he told us that someday, all appliances would talk to us most freely, telling us the local news and weather, our daily schedules, and so on. In turn we would talk back to them.

I often wonder what ever happened to him. Last I’d heard he’d done quite well in the school’s engineering department, and had gotten a high-paying research and development job after graduation.


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