Household appliance sector leaders are now offering instant messaging services designed to make it easier for householders to control and exchange information with their domestic equipment.

Kitchen of the future on show at CES 2014

The CES new technologies fair,held in Las Vegas on 7-10 January, gave pride of place to the connected home, with several products on display designed to help manage the housework using a system based on simplified communication and personalized management. LG and Whirlpool showcased a number of new products featuring not only greater convenience but also ecological advantages including limiting energy wastage due to domestic consumption habits. These communication platforms, incorporating for the first time Natural Language Processing (NLP) in order to ensure smooth user-interaction with household appliances, stand out as a leading solution when it comes to making the household environment smarter and more responsive.

Instantaneous communication

With a view to facilitating remote monitoring of domestic appliances, Korean manufacturer LG has come up with a communication interface called HomeChat,which enables householders to send an SMS to their fridge to check that it is clean and to find out what is in there, in real time. This service is based on one of the world’s largest instant messaging applications, LINE, which is the Japanese equivalent of Whatsapp. This approach promises fast implementation of a communications solution which is already available on many millions of smartphones worldwide. Going forward, LG is planning to partner with local specialists in order to adapt to consumption patterns in each new market. The HomeChat platform not only means that users can communicate directly by SMS with their household appliances. This communication is also two-way, so that for instance a dishwasher will be able to automatically inform its owner when a washing cycle has finished.

Towards greater personalization

In addition to simple ongoing communication functionality, the HomeChat service allows users to regulate the settings of their appliances in line with varying consumption modes. So when householders send a simple message informing their array of connected machines that they are going on holiday, most equipment will move into standby mode. The system will put your fridge on power-save mode and your smart robot vacuum cleaner will default to hoovering on a reduced schedule. Moreover this new functionality offers a number of advantages when it comes to avoiding wastage of perishable goods. The LG refrigerator lists the expiry dates of the items it contains so that the owner can see what is there without having to open the door, which over time is likely to save a substantial amount of energy. The ‘smart kitchen’ also promises to optimize the user’s time spent in the oven area. Whirlpool has developed Interactive Cooktop, a platform which provides personalized recipes that take account of dietary requirements and the likes/dislikes of the people coming to eat and also incorporate weather data and trends sourced from Pinterest and Facebook.


By Thomas Meyer
Journalist, Business Analyst