The era of big, white, dumb boxes is long over in the appliance business, having been pushed aside by color, creativity and connectivity, as reflected in this year’s crop of CES launches.
To underscore the point, the show welcomes a Silicon Valley newcomer, Marathon Laundry Machines, whose laundry pair has the brainpower and storage of a computer, and Wi-Fi capability and a 10-inch touchscreen to utilize them. Due out mid-year for $1,200 retail, the units can also access the power grid to determine when electric rates are lowest, which was the original smart appliance mandate.
But Marathon (Sands booth 80934 in the Eureka Park Marketplace) is up against the world’s largest and most sophisticated majap makers at CES. Here’s a look at what the Big Boys have up their sleeves:
Haier America China’s majap powerhouse is highlighting two key areas at CES: the connected home and urban living. The former is represented by the company’s U+ Smart Life open-platform ecosystem of networked appliances. For kitchen and laundry, a dedicated mobile app allows users to operate their refrigerator, check its contents and receive recommend recipes based on available food items, as well as start and monitor wash cycles and receive an alert with detergent is running low. For air quality, Haier’s Air Box AC and air purifier combo automatically starts up when excessive particulates are detected.
On the urban front, Haier’s Small Space Living platform features stand-alone and bundled products designed to enhance day-to-day experiences in apartments and downsized homes as consumers shift to smaller urban living spaces. Products include a 24-inch 2.0-cubic-foot dual-fuel freestanding range (HCR2450ADS); a 5.58-cubic-foot, 48-bottle capacity built-in wine cellar; and a 5.4-cubic-foot built-in dual-drawer refrigerator (DD400).
And speaking of diminutive fridges, Haier is also showing a self-propelled, 1:1 scale R2-D2 refrigerator with authentic light and sound effects and an onboard video projector. Developed and produced by Haier subsidiary Haier Asia in Japan, the fridge is made to order and individually stamped with a serial number to lend it collectability status.
The company is aiming even higher this year with an ultra-premium collection of majaps and home entertainment products dubbed Signature. White goods include washers, an air purifier and a refrigerator with a transparent LCD panel embedded in the door that allows users to see inside the compartment.
Elsewhere, an upgraded CordZero robovac collection is highlighted by what LG said is the first such product to feature augmented reality technology. Its Hom-Bot Turbo+ transmits real-time video to owners’ smartphones, who can then control the vacuum’s movements remotely via a new Home-Joy interface. The unit’s triple-eye camera sensors also record the surrounding area to track where it has already cleaned, and double as security cameras that are triggered when the Hom-Bot senses movement.
Other LG majap innovations on view include The Styler (model S3RERB), a cabinet-sized “clothing management system” that freshens apparel by removing wrinkles and odors through a combination of steam heat, gentle shaking action, and aroma sheets. The unit features a sleek, modern exterior, quiet 40dB operation, and is available now at a retail of $2,000.
LG is also showing a double-oven range (model LDG4315) with a massive 6.9-cubic-foot cavity, convection technology, 18,500 Btu burners for quick boiling, and easy three-step cleanup, along with its recently introduced black stainless kitchen finish.
The world’s largest majap maker by dollar volume returns to CES with a formalized approach to majap connectivity. Its Smart Kitchen Suite is a three-piece collection of automated white-goods that link to consumers via a CareSync system. The platform can be personalized through a Whirlpool mobile app to adapt to a family’s individual needs. The collection includes:
• a smart French door fridge with slide shelves and “flippers” to accommodate oversized and high-use items, based on design engineers’ observations of produce aisles and kitchen pantries, and a Party Mode that makes ice more quickly and keeps the unit cooler to accommodate frequent visits while entertaining;
• a smart front control range lets families preheat, start, pause, stop and adjust the temperature and cook time via a Whirlpool mobile app; and
• a smart dishwasher that estimates when detergent is running low and can automatically re-order more through the Amazon Dash replenishment service (also available on select Whirlpool laundry products).
The mobile app can also alert users to power or Wi-Fi outage on the fridge, and remind them when to change the air and water filters, Whirlpool said.
The suite will be priced to retail for $6,647 to $6,847, depending on finish, and is expected to hit sales floors in late 2016.
Whirlpool is also showing a new top load laundry pair with a “load & go” auto-dispensing detergent system that can hold a month’s worth of cleaner, and a concept line of Laundry Skins in up to 10 patterned designs that can change the look of a washer and dryer.