The Next Big Thing
Appliances getting more connectedCNET's Brian Cooley's offers his thoughts on connected appliances and why the Internet fridge is much less pie in the sky than it was 10 years ago.
-You may have heard that CNET has begun doing appliance reviews. It's true. We don't focus on how the zucchini fares on the crisper, but how well these appliances are getting connected and smart, and it's about time. -Basically a socket that you can power on and off with your smartphone, and that's a really cool thing because you can plug anything into it and then make that into a remotely controlled device. -So, if you wanted your porch light to come on at 6:00 pm for you to come home, it will be there on waiting for you. -The Hom-Bot is a really smart vacuum. It's got this camera on the top that is taking dozens and dozens of photographs. This helps it navigate and tell where it is, where it's been, and where it's gonna go. -For now, we get to the high-water mark of this refrigerator, which is the LCD screen that Samsung includes above the ice and water dispenser. One of the things I really like about it is that when you have it just in home screen mode, it will tell you the exact temperatures of the insides of both your freezer and your refrigerator so that if there is a problem, and you've lost power to one, you can always tell. -Now to my mind, we're seeing three big changes around the landscape of smart appliances compared to 10 years ago when they first began to merge. The first is the mobile ecosystem. Everything ties back to our phones and tablets these days persistently, and smart appliances will be no different. That gives them a more persistent presence in our lives. It also helps to make them more personal and less like well, appliances. The second one is less pie, pie in the sky. No one is talking so much to me more about the Internet fridge replacing your computer perhaps. Now it's a more practical vision, like a dryer that will message your phone when it's time to get the clothes up before they wrinkle, and then there's cloud smarts. Look at something like the Nest Thermostat. Most of its goodness actually comes from its cloud back in the day that the history, the processing and software that's out there behind it not stuck on the wall. I'm also watching the sort of wild card area around replacement cycles of white goods or major appliances. Most of us are happy if the thing just works and dread replacing one and the old one taken out and the new one brought in and installed. Mobile devices, laptops, never had to go through that kind of friction. I also wanna see how well these major appliance brands can morph themselves into tech and lifestyle brands. This is new territory for them.