By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Salton Inc., the countertop appliance marketer known for its Toastmaster, Juiceman, George Foreman and Welbilt product lines, has resurrected the venerable Westinghouse brand for use with a new collection of smart, networked kitchen appliances.
The program, developed with Salton's wholly owned subsidiary Icebox, LLC, includes microwave and convection ovens, coffee and bread makers, and a gateway device, or Information Center, that allows the products to interface with the Internet.
The Information Center utilizes Microsoft's Windows CE.NET platform, an embedded operating system designed for maximum interoperability between home appliances and CE devices. Icebox announced its intention to develop a CE.Net-based kitchen entertainment terminal at the 2002 Consumer Electronics Show in January, citing reduced overall cost to consumers, faster delivery of products to market, and an open environment for third party developers to write additional software programs.
The platform permits a broad range of Internet-based features including instant messaging and home networking capability using such standards as wireless 802.11. The "thin client" OS also needs minimal storage memory, and its enhanced device and software interoperability should make products less likely to crash, Icebox said.
The Information Center, which is priced to retail for $199, operates via homes' power and phone lines. The device connects to the Internet to download recipes, display news and synchronize clocks on the Westinghouse appliances, and also features an AM/FM radio and alarm clock. The product has a large, backlit LCD that shows the time, local weather and financial updates, and all programming is performed with a point and click interface on the company's Web site.
The ovens, in turn, feature barcode scanners that allow the units to set cooking times for individual food items based on UPC-specific instructions, while the coffeemaker allows the user to program unique brew times for each day of the week.
"Our new line of Westinghouse products will offer consumers convenience and simplicity by providing easy-to-use functionality and automated cooking capabilities," said Salton CEO Leonhard Dreimann. "We continue to believe in the connected home lifestyle of the future, and that kitchen appliances will leverage the network to deliver new and exciting value propositions for consumers."
Icebox's first product, a combination TV, CD player and Internet appliance for kitchen countertops dubbed iCEBOX, was introduced in 2000.
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