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Next-Gen Appliances In Spotlight At CES


Major appliance manufacturers demonstrated
at International CES that they are ahead of
the curve on “smart” home appliances, even though
that curve is still several years away.

Companies including GE, Sears, Haier and Whirlpool,
as well as LG and Samsung (see TWICE, Jan.
17), presented majap prototypes that can be
controlled remotely from smartphones and can delay
operations in response to signals from the power grid.

As LG’s product insight manager Patrick Steinkuhl
told TWICE, the technology for smart appliances is
there but manufacturers, retailers and consumers
must wait for the infrastructure to catch up. Still to
be worked out, he said, is the selection of an industry
standard for networked home appliances, and the
adoption of “smart grid” technology by the nation’s
power utilities.

Among those laying the groundwork for smart, connected
and cost-effective homes of the future is firsttime
CES exhibitor GE, which presented an expansive
suite of home-energy solutions within CES’s new
Connected Home Appliances TechZone.

At the core of GE’s vision are its Brillion home network and Nucleus energy manager, which provides
real-time data on energy use and costs. The Nucleus also
helps consumers control their Brillion-enabled appliances
— including select GE Profile dishwashers, refrigerators,
ranges and laundry pairs — that can delay operation during
high-cost, peak-power periods. GE is presently conducting
three smart-appliance pilot programs in cooperation
with local utilities in Kentucky, Massachusetts and Texas.

GE also demonstrated other green technologies at its
Home of the Future exhibit, including a residential wind turbine
and its WattStation electric-vehicle charging station,
which received a 2011 CES Best of Innovations Design
and Engineering Award within the Portable Power category.

Sharing space within the TechZone was Sears’ Kenmore
brand, where VP Betsey Owens and brand management
director Philip K. Philip showcased current and
forthcoming majaps, including models that will be able to
relay diagnostic data over the web for automated assessments
and remedial responses.

Among returning CES exhibitors, Haier, China’s largest
majap maker, demonstrated its four-year-old connected
appliances program alongside more traditional CE fare at
its Central Hall booth. Dubbed “Smart Life,” the wholehome
system allows consumers to remotely access and
control their refrigerators, air conditioners and laundry
products via the Internet and mobile broadband. Available
in China, the platform also controls lighting, curtains,
multimedia entertainment, video conferencing, security
alarms and environmental systems.

Haier holds multiple patents for home appliance networking
and helped draft China’s national standards, including
the ITopHome platform, which was submitted as
an international standard.

Not everything on display was pie-in-the-sky. No. 1 majap
manufacturer Whirlpool, which had long maintained
a presence at CES, continued that tradition within the
North Hall’s home-friendly Mommy TechZone, where it
touted its upcoming 100th anniversary and its state-ofthe-
art laundry line.

Representing the latter was the new top-load Vantage
washer-dryer pair, which was previewed as a prototype
at last year’s show. Now available at retail at a suggested
price point of $2,000 each, the models feature LCD
touchscreen interface, USB ports for firmware upgrades,
33 wash cycles and the ability to create custom cycles, an
impeller-type agitator that that allows the washer to use 76 percent less water and 75 percent less power
than pre-2004 top-loaders, and a metallic automotive