Love Means Never Having to Say Goodbye… to Your Appliances

It’s the ultimate First World problem: how to stay in touch with your appliances even if you’re away from home. Well, Pilgrim, you git down on yer knees and thank the Lord Fixus because now you can do just that! Daf right, Nappy– Whirlpool, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Panasonic and Procter & Gamble are all test marketing this in Hotlanta even as you feast your bloodshot peepers on these hallowed photons. Read on…

Having completed a pilot program that tested how an Internet- connected kitchen can ease meal preparation, the Internet Home Alliance (IHA) is shifting its attention to the laundry room. IHA’s Laundry Time study, like the earlier Mealtime study, will investigate how “Smart Home” technologies can simplify and shorten the time required to wash and dry clothes in an average household. Consumer attitudes toward remote access and control of home laundry appliances also will be probed.

A test home in the Atlanta area will be equipped with devices that link washers and dryers to a home network that will enable owners to receive text messages on the progress of the laundering process through computers, cellphones or TV receivers. For in- stance, a family member can put a load in the washer and watch TV. When the load is completed, a “Wash Complete” alert pops up on the screen, instructing the person to move the load to the dryer and perhaps put a new load in the washer. A similar alert will appear when the drying cycle is finished.

Through instant messaging on computers, cellphones or TVs, consumers also will be alerted to possible problems with their laundry appliances. If the problem is that they failed to activate the machine, a remote access system enables the appliances to be turned on without walking to the laundry room. This latter feature also can be used while out of the home (through cellphone or computer) to activate a washer or dryer so the load will be completed upon arrival home. If the return home is delayed, the dryer can be instructed to fluff the load again to eliminate potential wrinkles.

Participating in the study are Whirlpool, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Panasonic and Procter & Gamble. Whirlpool is provid- ing each test home with front-loading regular-capacity washers and dryers, while Microsoft is providing the “Smart House” and remote-access control systems.

Results of the study will be published early next year by IHA, a home research group based in Boston.


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