LAS VEGAS--No longer content to simply show its latest electronics at CES, LG this year brought a line of networked "smart appliances."
At a announced a line of kitchen and cleaning appliances that use the Thinq brand name, promising consumers better energy efficiency and control.here today, the company
The appliances use a Wi-Fi home network and smart meter to offer features, such as remotely operating appliances from a smart phone or programming them to take advantage of off-peak rates.
Being connected to a network also enables the appliances to alert their owners that something is wrong or allows customer service to service a machine remotely, according to LG.
The Thinq appliances include a washer, dryer, robotic vacuum cleaner, oven, and refrigerator.
LG joins other appliances makers, including General Electric and Whirlpool, in making network-aware appliances. Some of the features that LG says are possible seem relatively novel while others have been touted before but never materialized.
For example, having a customer service representative troubleshoot an appliance problem by logging onto the machine would save consumers time and trouble. By contrast, it's not clear consumers are willing to pay more for "food management" features, designed to send an alert when food is spoiled in the refrigerator.
The energy efficiency capabilities rely on a smart meter and tiered pricing. With time-of-use pricing, a person could program a dishwasher to do its power-hungry job in the middle of the night to take advantage of lower rates. But in the U.S., not all utilities have installed smart, two-way meters or offer variable electricity rates.