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Appliance Makers Enter New Realms At CES

Finding new niches in a crowded market.

It was President Harry S. Truman who first advised: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

These days the kitchen is clearly heating up, as waves of home appliance imports and white-goods newbies challenge traditional brands for cooking and refrigeration hegemony.

See: 10 Major Appliance Movers & Shakers In 2018

But rather than abandon their hard-won kitchen turf, established manufacturers are spreading their wings, and R&D dollars, to tap into entirely new categories that can serve as adjuncts to their core product lines.

For LG Electronics, which itself was a majap market upstart some 18 years ago, “tap” is a wholly appropriate description of its latest venture outside of cooktops and dishwashers. At this week’s CES 2019, the company is formally introducing LG HomeBrew, an automated beer-making system designed for discerning suds lovers without the muss and fuss of home brewing. (See photo, above.)

The countertop appliance employs single-use capsules pre-packed with malt, yeast, hop oil and flavoring to produce more than a gallon of fresh beer over a two-week period. Users can choose from five styles: American IPA, American Pale Ale, English Stout, Belgian-style Witbier and Czech Pilsner.

Related: LG Uncorks Latest Signature Additions

An optimized fermentation algorithm controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control, LG said, and the unit, a CES 2019 Innovation Award winner, automatically self-sanitizes with hot water, eliminating the cleaning-related frustrations traditionally associated with home-brewing methods.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Pricing, ship dates and beer-capsule sales sales were not disclosed, although the HomeBrew should be up and running this week at LG’s CES booth, #11100 in the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Another darling of domesticity, Danby Appliances, has similarly ventured out from its refrigeration roots to, in this case, create an entirely new category. Its new Parcel Guard is a smart, theft-proof drop box for private homes where delivery drivers can safely deposit packages. Danby said it developed the product in response to the more than 25 million U.S. households that reported stolen packages in 2017, as online shopping and “porch pirating” continue to grow.

Related: Cannabis Appliances Generating Buzz

The unit itself stands about 39 inches tall, and can be bolted to the ground or weighted with sand for extra security. Made of durable, weather-proof plastic, the receptacle features an anti-theft drop slot that can accommodate standard parcel sizes, and is equipped with the latest in connected-home technology, including a camera, motion sensor, alarm, and Wi-Fi connectivity to monitor the Parcel Guard remotely via mobile app. Users receive a notification when a package is delivered, and can lock and unlock the box remotely.

Danby unveiled the Parcel Guard quite appropriately at CES Unveiled on Sunday, and is showcasing it all week at its Sands booth, Halls A-D, #42750.

GE Appliances corporate parent Haier is similarly stepping foot into new terrain with a host of novel footwear care solutions, including a shoe washer, smart shoe cabinet and smart shoe bag. It’s all in pursuit of solving what the companies describe as a common problem for consumers: the desire for clean footwear but the reluctance to use the traditional washing machine to launder shoes. The new product line can be seen this week at the Haier/GE Appliances booth, #11128, in the LVCC’s Central Hall.

In contrast, appliance giant Whirlpool is staying put in the kitchen, albeit with a very 21st century approach to cooking. Fresh out of its WLabs innovation incubator in Benton Harbor, Mich., comes a smart countertop oven that utilizes AI to recognize foodstuffs, and cooking algorithms from the vast recipe library compiled by Whirlpool’s Yummly subsidiary, to provide a true scan-to-cook approach to meal prep.

The device can also be voice operated via Amazon Alexa and Google Home; sends cooking status notifications to your mobile phone; and employs a “multifunctionality mode” to achieve ideal taste and texture, Whirlpool said. It will carry a suggested $799 retail when it ships this spring, and is being demonstrated this week at the company’s Sands booth, #41925, also in Halls A-D.

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