The era of the smart appliance may finally be here. LG is showing off its THINQ technology in smart appliances this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The company says the technology will help homeowners manage their appliances remotely and with greater energy savings. LG is demonstrating the appliances with Wi-Fi, but says units will be compatible with both Wi-Fi and ZigBee wireless technologies. An LG spokesman said it’s too early to discuss availability in the United States.
Here are breakdowns of the various THINQ features:
The Smart Grid feature relies on smart grid technology with two-way communicating smart meters receiving information such as pricing data from electric utilities.
For example, a smart washing machine can offer a user the choice of using “Recommend Time,” which does the washing at the nearest, most cost-effective time, or “Lowest Rate,” which finds the time when electricity rates are at their lowest. Consumers can also select the washing time themselves, and if they have to do the washing at a peak time, the washing machine will recommend the most energy-efficient cycle.
Similarly, LG’s ovens offer three cost options—low, middle and high—that take into account both the duration of the cooking cycle and varying costs of electricity. In addition, LG’s refrigerators use a unique algorithm to adjust various functions, such as defrost time control, to offer further savings on energy bills at peak times. LG refrigerators also count and display the frequency at which homeowners open the refrigerator door, giving homeowners the information to save more energy.
The LCD display on LG’s smart appliances shows daily, weekly or monthly reports detailing the appliance’s overall levels of energy consumption and associated costs. Daily totals for electricity usage and subsequent charges will be accessible on smart phones and tablet PCs.
LG’s Smart Diagnosis feature helps customer service representatives quickly and efficiently troubleshoot mechanical issues over the phone, limiting costly, inconvenient service calls and in-home visits. For minor problems like refrigerator door left open, the appliance alerts the owner either on its display panel or for future models, via a Wi-Fi connection to a smartphone or tablet PC.
LG Smart Access makes it possible for homeowners to monitor and control home appliances remotely from outside of the home. Using a smart phone or tablet PC, users can manage their washing cycle from the office, or set their refrigerator temperature while they’re at the gym.
LG Smart Adapt allows consumers to download the latest services and technology upgrades for their appliances via a Wi-Fi connection. With this innovation, consumers will be able to access up-to-date, pre-programmed recipes as well as advanced cycles for their washing machines.
LG’s Food Management Solution helps consumers manage the contents of their refrigerator more effectively. By dragging and dropping food icons on the refrigerator’s LCD display or by using the voice recognition function, users can easily identify what is in the refrigerator, as well as where certain items are located and when they expire.
Information about availability and Wi-Fi and ZigBee compatibility was added on 1-6-11.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates