Whirlpool Previews Internet Majaps

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A month after CES attendees got a look at new Internet-enabled major appliances -- products of Whirlpool's agreements with both Cisco Systems and Sun Microsystems to develop new white goods in a Networked Home Solutions Initiative. Whirlpool showed prototypes of some similar technological possibilities at the biennial Confortec household appliance fair in Paris.

At the Confortec show, Whirlpool exhibited a prototype networked refrigerator that included a portable handheld device with a home base on the door, designed to allow consumers to remotely monitor and control the networked appliances and to access other Internet-based products and services for the home as well.

For example, a networked oven could enable consumers to download recipes from an integrated browser, then automatically program the oven according to the recipe.

These prototype products are said to be the first of a complete line that Whirlpool has under development.

Whirlpool has also launched a joint effort with electric-housewares manufacturer Moulinex to develop new microwave ovens to be sold under both brands. The two companies will work together to develop and produce innovative products, according to a joint announcement.

As part of the deal, production of Moulinex-brand microwaves will gradually be shifted to Whirlpool's manufacturing facilities. Both companies will continue with their own separate sales and marketing operations, however.

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