The Internet Home Alliance, a group of firms working to advance the Web’s effect on households, with the help of Whirlpool, Microsoft and Panasonic, recently introduced a laundry system that links wirelessly to Internet-connected home networks. Though the technology is at least a year away from the marketplace, three families in Atlanta, GA are testing the devices in their own homes. The program, called Laundry Time, will evaluate how the three families use the new wireless appliance systems over a course of six weeks.
The project relies on a wireless network, two TV tuners and Microsoft Media Server software to send details about laundry across home network to computers, televisions, cell phones and other devices. Messages may be sent regarding the status of washing and drying cycles, necessary maintenance or a load size that is too large. Users can also start their machines from a remote location.
Peggy Spencer, a 57-year-old school teacher, and her family are one of the households testing the technology, which she hopes will allow her to complete laundry duties while away from home. Others, however, are more skeptical of the benefits. Laura Champine, a home products analyst for Morgan Keegan, told the Associated Press, “I’ve done my own laundry for four decades and I’ve never been away from my home and wondered how it’s doing. Until the cell phone can load the dryer, I don’t know how this technology will work for me.”