LG Debuts Smart Appliance Platform At CES, Sets 2011 Goals

By Alan Wolf On Jan 17 2011 - 6:01am

LAS VEGAS — LG Electronics outlined aggressive plans for its major appliances business at International CES this month.

The company said it will target double-digit growth in 2011 and push for global sales of $20 billion in 2014 to position the company as the world’s top majap manufacturer. To reach those goals, LG plans to invest $12 billion in research and development, and to maintain its leading position in its core front-load washers and French-door refrigeration categories while “building a foundation for growth” in built-in appliances, premium kitchen packages and “smart” white goods.

“This year will be the beginning of a new era of home appliances,” said Young-ha Lee, president/CEO of the LG Electronics Home Appliance Company, pointing to the marriage of majaps with CPUs and computer code.

In 2011 LG will focus on existing core technologies, such as the inverter direct drive for washers and linear compressor for its refrigerators, and will push their energy efficiency by more than 30 percent to meet and exceed stricter U.S. environmental regulations.

Building on its recent joint development and distribution deal with Viking Range, LG plans to expand its share of the premium built-in home appliance market, and said it will work more closely with suppliers and dealers to deliver accurate sales forecasts and streamline supply logistics.

The company also introduced at CES its new Wi-Fiand ZigBee-based Thinq Technology platform, along with several majap prototypes, which connects appliances to the smart grid and allows consumers to monitor, diagnose, update and control their white goods remotely via smartphone or tablet PC.

The smart-grid component uses a smart meter to ensure that appliances use the minimum amount of energy at the least expensive rates possible. For laundry products, the feature gives consumers the choice of using Recommend Time, which does the washing at the nearest, most cost-effective time, or users can opt for a Lowest Rate setting, which finds the time when utility rates are minimal.

Meanwhile, the Thinq platform’s Smart Access feature allows consumers to monitor and control appliances outside of the home. Using a smartphone or tablet PC, users can manage their washing cycle or set their refrigerator temperature, while alert messages will be sent to the user’s mobile device to signal the end of a washing or cooking cycle, or alert them to a potential product issue.

Controls will extend to LG’s new Hom-Bot robotic vacuum cleaner, which can be activated remotely and provide a live feed of its cleaning activities, the company said.

Another Thinq feature, dubbed smart adapt, allows consumers to download the latest services and technology upgrades for their appliances via a Wi-Fi connection, including new pre-programmed microwave oven cooktimes, as well as advanced cycles for washing machines.

In addition, LG’s previously introduced smart-diagnosis feature, which allows technicians to troubleshoot mechanical issues over the phone through a series of tones, will now also alert owners to minor problems via the units’ display panels. Later models will contact owners remotely via a downloadable mobile application on their smartphone, and will allow the products to be diagnosed through an Internet connection.

Separately, LG also showed at CES its 2011 Innovation Award-winning steam dishwasher, ultra-capacity steam clothes washer, and its Wave-series high-efficiency topload laundry pair with full-color LCD panel.

The company dramatically expanded its booth footprint to accommodate the extensive majap presentation, which is expected to become a permanent part of LG’s CES showing.

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