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Smart home appliances: the kitchen that works for you

What are smart home appliances?

What’s new in smart home appliances?Imagine if your fridge could track the use-by dates of its contents or keep track of what’s in stock, your hob could alert you when a pan boils over (or even turn the heat down), your oven could tell when it was pre-heated, or the washing machine shout when it’s finished.

Traditional hobs, ovens, grills, fridges, freezers, dishwashers and washing machines are all inherently manual devices that need a human present to operate: the fridge can’t prepare your dinner and cook it; the washing machine won’t load and unload itself.

Some of these jobs will be science fiction for a long time, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can’t automate or improve.

CES 2013 LG fridge gets Smart Manager for easier shopping and diets

Read Recombu Digital’s guide to the Smart HomeMore importantly, they could all alert you if there was a breakdown, contact an engineering centre and send diagnostic information to help the repair man arrive with the right parts and finish the job more quickly.

As more countries move to smart power grids, some appliances could also negotiate with your power supplier to operate when electricity is cheapest.

This is the world of smart home appliances – white goods – that is becoming a reality after 50 years of ‘kitchen of the future’ dreams.

Who makes smart home appliances?

Of the world’s major home appliance manufacturers, South Korea’s LG has done the most high-profile work in making our kitchens smart.

It produced the smart fridge in around 2002 – an American-style fridge-freezer with a Linux PC on the top and a 14in LCD monitor on the door, promising to automate your shopping and improve your diet. It was a great idea that went nowhere.

A decade later, all of the other technologies are in place that could make it work: mass ownership of smartphones that let you control and interact with your fridge from anywhere, WiFi for easy connection to your home network, always-on broadband instead of dial-up, and small, cheap computer power using smartphone chipsets.

LG seems ahead of the pack with its 2013 smart appliance range, although Samsung is sure to be close behind its Korean super-rival. In Japan, companies like Panasonic and NEC produce advanced white goods which rarely leave the Land of the Rising Sun, while the likes of Bosch and Haier have shown interest in home automation.

What’s new in smart home appliances?

CES 2013 LG fridge gets Smart Manager for easier shopping and diets

LG has dropped its Smart ThinQ branding for clever home appliances at CES 2013, but it’s added one-touch smartphone connection via NFC and new smart fridge features.

The Smart Manager suite in LG’s fridge includes Freshness Tracker, recommended recipes, online shopping, remote access and healthy eating plans.

NFC Tag-on is available across new LG smart home devices including fridges, ovens, washing machines and robot vacuum cleaners. It lets NFC-equipped phones connect with a single tap against the appliance’s NFC sensor.

Freshness Tracker keeps an eye on expiration dates if the owner puts them in as they re-stock, but it doesn’t smell your fridge to say when your mange toute are off or your cheese is getting lively.

If you’ve put those details in as you loaded the fridge, you can also get a list of what’s left or needs replacing via the Smart Access app on your smartphone.

Korean owners won’t even need to get that, with the Smart Shopping feature that can automatically order a re-supply, and let them shop for more via the fridge’s LCD touch-screen.

Smart Manager will recommend recipes based on what’s in the fridge, while Health Manager can create personalised healthy eating plans for different users.

The Smart Diagnosis feature on LG’s fridge and other devices has also been upgraded to make better assessments of problems before it contacts the user.

LG’s also added Smart Adapt to its smarts washing machines so that users can download new washing programmes – such as Super Rinse and Baby Sanitize – via smartphone.

The smart washing machine and oven have also been given voice control via smartphone or LG Smart TV, making them easier to monitor and control.

We’re hoping that this year will see all of LG’s smart home collection escape Korea and the USA for smarter British kitchens.

January 7, 2013

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