The Maytag repair man may need to go wireless if appliance makers have their way in the next few years. Several major manufacturers are testing out the latest in smart white goods that will use wireless networks to control appliances throughout the home. Does this mean your refrigerator will remind you to buy milk? Possibly. But the real value of IP-based appliances may be in whole-house integration, or connecting your customer’s audio, video, security, climate and lighting controls with their washers, dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators.
IP-based appliances offer fertile ground for consumers interested in the many possibilities that exist for the technology. But the verdict is still out on whether the functionality of these products will eventually seduce mainstream users to actually buy them. So far, the success of Internet-equipped appliances of any kind, like LG’s Internet refrigerator, has been grim in the U.S. market thanks, in part, to doubt about whether accessing the Internet on one’s refrigerator is a valuable feature of that appliance. But you wouldn’t know it from the hype.
Seven years ago at PARA, Jeff Hoover, a past president of CEDIA and president of Audio Adivsiors, a custom installer in West Palm Beach, Fla., spoke enthusiastically about the future of home networking. Not only did he accurately outline efforts to link lighting, security and phone systems wirelessly, but he also introduced the concept of Internet appliances and how these intuitive white goods would help create the ultimate smart or connected home.