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Appliances Getting Smarter At CES

LAS VEGAS — The role of International CES as a showcase for major appliance introductions continues to grow.

Contributing to the trend is the diminished importance of the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (K/BIS) as a launchpad for white goods, and the greater technical sophistication of majaps as manufacturers pack more smart systems on board.

This week, vendors are showing a slew of new laundry, cooking and refrigeration products that are getting smarter in both circuitry and design.

Among the intelligent contingent is Lynx Grills’ voice-guided SmartGrill, which returns to CES with a production model that’s been updated from last year’s prototype.

The latest iteration features a new operating system, a powerful new app, increased functionality, a vast database of recipes, and the same voice-command interactivity.

Its central feature is a MyChef operating system, which uses speech recognition technology to ask users a series of questions to determine what they are going to cook, and which responds with step-by-step instructions on how to prepare it. (Users can also interface with the grill via a companion SmartGrill app.)

“Since the SmartGrill prototype received a great response at CES 2014, our team has been focused on making this revolutionary product a practical option for any outdoor leisure space,” said Lynx Grills CEO Jim Buch.

The SmartGrill will be available this March in three sizes (30, 36 and 42 inches) and will be priced to hit a retail range of $6,000 to $9,000. Lynx is providing hands-on demonstrations all this week in the courtyard on the first floor of the Renaissance Hotel, directly across from the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

For smart cooking inside the house, luxury majap maker Dacor has added another futuristic twist to its Discovery iQ dual-fuel range. The app-controlled oven, which debuted here one year ago, made a return appearance at CES Unveiled Sunday with a voice-command feature that will enable users to instruct the appliance verbally via their mobile phones.

Like its predecessor, the updated range employs a proprietary Discovery iQ Android cooking app that offers a pre-programmed recipe and cooking guide, plus a remote application that allows for off-site control over Wi-Fi.

The added voice command feature, available this spring on both the 48-inch and 36-inch models, will allow users to bark out complex instructions like “Set timer for one hour,” or “Start bake on the left oven at 200 degrees.”

“We have been changing the way people cook in the modern kitchen for nearly 50 years,” noted Dacor president Steve Joseph.

No. 1 appliance manufacturer Whirlpool, a CES regular, is emphasizing both smart function and form in the Family & Technology Marketplace at the Sands Expo Center, where it has taken up residence this week.

The company is the first in the majap industry to connect with home-automation leader Nest Labs, and the fruits of that pairing appear in two CES Innovation Award-winning products on display this week.

For users who are away from home or otherwise preoccupied, the company’s “Works with Nest”-capable top-load and Duet front-load laundry pairs can keep completed laundry loads fresh and less wrinkled via post-cycle tumble modes that are activated when the Nest Learning Thermostat is set to “away.”

Users can also download additional cycles through a mobile app, or set up their own custom wash and dry instructions, which can be incorporated into the machines.

“The idea is to create purposeful innovation to help families thrive, rather than just using technology for technology’s sake,” Whirlpool senior brand manager Jonathan Hall told TWICE.

Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics America, which is holding court in the Las Vegas Convention Center’s Central Hall, is further building upon its innovative Flex Duo design technology. The five-year-old concept uses a “smart divider” to create two separate, independently controlled temperature environments within a singlecavity oven.

This week, look for the addition of a second oven door to the company’s Flex Duo oven range, which allows access to the smaller top cavity without releasing heat from the larger bottom compartment.

Flex Duo technology is also employed in Samsung’s Chef Collection slide-in induction range, which features 5.8 cubic feet of capacity; a Chef Bake function that precisely regulates oven temperature and minimizes fluctuations to less than 8 degrees F.; and an induction cooktop that uses cool magnetic energy to heat food but not cookware.

CES’s other majap mainstay, LG Electronics USA, also in the Central Hall, is similarly flexing its engineering and design muscles with a pair of unique products. The manufacturer’s Double Door-in-Door four-door French door fridge builds on its pioneering door-within-a-door concept by providing two independent dual-door compartments to provide better content organization and easy access to frequently used food items while maximizing cold air conservation.

The right door-in-door panel is accessible from the outside with the push of a button and is also accessible from the inside, making it easy to load with often-used items like snacks, drinks and lunches. The left door-indoor provides additional easy-access storage space that can be opened via a trigger on the bottom of the door.

In laundry, LG has developed a two-in-one washer concept with its diminutive Sidekick washer, which fits beneath most LG front-load washers in place of their storage pedestals to serve as an additional washing machine.

The 1.0 cubic-foot washer was specifically designed to handle smaller, specialized laundry loads requiring custom care, including lingerie, delicates and active wear. The unit allows users to gently clean small loads of delicate apparel while the main laundry load is running within the larger washer above, saving households time and energy.

The Sidekick features a stainless-steel drum, six specialized cycles to properly clean any type of delicate or special-care clothing, a transparent door that can be opened and closed with minimal effort, and a tilted-angle control panel that allows users to check the remaining time of the wash cycle even while the unit is in use.