Smart appliances are making headway this year, as several leading manufacturers exhibited Internet-connected and app-enabled washers, dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators recently at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
LG, Whirlpool, Samsung, and others demonstrated smartphone-based control over washing and drying cycles, the ability to monitor those cycles remotely and receive activation cues from other products like the Nest thermostat. These concepts have been tossed around for years, and while it’s exciting to see them finally come to fruition, Whirlpool has taken Internet-connectivity a step further by enabling owners of its new Smart Top Load Washer and Dryer to opt into the company’s new Connect to care program via a mobile app, which makes a donation to Habitat for Humanity every time they do a load of laundry.
As the washer and dryer give back to the community, they also get increasingly smarter. A host of downloadable cycles are available now that are optimized for very specific types of laundry: high-performance athletic wear, comforters, baby clothes, and more. A user simply taps the cycle of choice on his or her Whirlpool app-enabled smartphone and the washing and drying duo set up. In an effort to make laundry time even more interactive and efficient, Whirlpool engineers will be continually adding new cycles to the app throughout the year.
Generating the biggest buzz at the LG smart appliances section of its massive CES booth was a TWIN Wash system. As the name suggests, you can do two—yes, two—loads of laundry at the same time. It’s akin to a double oven in concept, effectively allowing you to minimize the time you spend doing laundry. The top of the unit is a regular-size top-loading washing machine; the bottom mini washer is ideally suited for delicate items that require special attention or unique wash settings. LG would be remiss to not include some kind of connected technology in this unique washing machine, and this one communicates through both Wi-Fi and NFC. Via Wi-Fi, custom cycles can be uploaded to the washer, cycle statuses can be monitored via an LG smartphone app and alerts can be sent via Wi-Fi when the cycle is complete. Using NFC tagging technology, users can download preprogrammed wash cycles to their smartphones then activate those cycles by simply touching the smartphone to the washing machine’s NFC Tag On symbol.
As appliances continue to get smarter, they are also getting more attractive.: And it’s not just about stainless steel and compact footprints. Whirlpool, for one, may in the near future offer magnetized “skins” that can be attached to the front of a washer and dryer. Available in a variety of designs and colors, it will offer consumers a way to instantly alter their style. Considering the average lifespan of a washer and dryer is around 14 years, it’s an easy, affordable way spruce up your laundry room when you redecorate your house.
Read about the new smart appliances from Bosch shown at CES here.