Wednesday, January 11, 2012

One Per Cent

CES: Laundry app lets you know when clothes are done

by Peter Nowak, contributor

SmartWasher2.JPG(Image: Peter Nowak)

For the laundry-impaired geeks of the world, Samsung has found an answer: a washing machine that can tell you when your laundry is done via a smartphone app.

Strange though it may seem - "my wife already does that" was a common response amongst attendees viewing the device when it was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show this week - Samsung is just one of many appliance makers racing to install a host of internet-connected features in machines in an effort to make them "smart."

Last year, it was a refrigerator that tweeted. This year, it's Wi-Fi-enabled laundry machines and fridges that can tell you when your groceries are going bad.

The washers and dryers, available starting in the spring, connect to any smartphone through a downloadable application. The phone can then be used as a remote control, so the machines can be turned on and off while their owner is at work or on the bus.

Samsung says it's not just a novelty - the app connection actually has some practical uses.

"If you started to dry clothes in the morning and forgot to take them out you can go to your phone and restart your dryer for when you come home, so your clothes are refreshed and ready to go," said spokesperson Amy Schmidt.

The company also says that with electricity rates varying depending on the time of day, more control over when the machines are used can help save money.

Perhaps, but what they will probably really accomplish is what all good technologies do - enable laziness. Rather than getting up to check on whether the laundry is done, users will instead monitor it on their phones while watching TV.

If only Samsung would invent a robot that could then take the laundry out of the machine and fold it. Of course, if the company did, there would surely be similar snide comments about spouses.

And oh yes, in case anyone was wondering - the laundry machines can also connect to Samsung's Twitter-enabled refrigerator. That means users can monitor their wash and tweet, all while grabbing a snack. The future has arrived.

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