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Now, run your home with 'smart' appliances

Posted on Jan 08, 11:08PM | IANS

When visiting the grocery store, do you ever get that nagging feeling you are forgetting something? Now you can check your refrigerator remotely, thanks to so-called "smart appliances" hitting stores this year.

"They can start a load of laundry while driving home from work, tell their robotic cleaner to vacuum the floor before company arrives or view the refrigerator's inventory of food items," said Seong-jin Jo, president and chief executive of South Korea-based LG Electronics Home Appliance Company.

LG and American competitor Whirlpool are unveiling a series of smart appliances at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

A new generation of washers, dryers, ovens and refrigerators can connect to smartphones and tablets through home-based Wi-Fi networks.

LG's HOM-BOT robot vacuum can be remote controlled using a smartphone, and comes equipped with a built-in camera that allows users to remotely check on the cleaning process.

The new LG smart home appliances line also features self-diagnosing capabilities, allowing users to tell via their cellphone when and why their appliance is experiencing a problem.

Want to listen to your favourite songs while preparing dinner?

Whirlpool's "Sixth Sense Live" appliances, including a new Bluetooth-capable CoolVox refrigerator, give a whole new meaning to "cool tunes", allowing users to play music through their refrigerator.

Whirlpool's smart dryer can send text messages, alerting its owner when their clothes are dry.

"We're trying to focus on ways to make tasks easier and simpler, making processes more efficient rather than more gadget-y or gizmo-y," Warwick Stirling, Whirlpool global director of energy and sustainability, told Discovery News.

But critics of the smart appliance movement questioned the usefulness of the some of the features.

"I cannot keep up with my friends on email, so I doubt I'd notice the email from my freezer," wrote John Dvorak in a column for PCMag.com.

A Whirlpool washer-dryer combo with smart connectivity will cost USD 3,600, according to Discovery News, compared to under USD 1,000 for entry-level models.

But with all of the bells and whistles, manufactures are hoping consumers will choose convenience over cost.