LG touts grid-aware smart appliances at CES 2011

Electronics giant LG muscles into smart appliances, introducing its Thinq line of connected appliances which promise better energy efficiency and remote control.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
2 min read

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 press event here today, the company announced a line of kitchen and cleaning appliances that use the Thinq brand name, promising consumers better energy efficiency and control.

LG's smart home concept with connected, smart appliances.
LG's smart home concept with connected, smart appliances. LG

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.