LG Electronics has unveiled its new range of smart appliances, enabled by "LG THINQ" technology, at the 2011 International CES. All products in the lineup are comprised of five key features, dubbed Smart Grid, "Smart Diagnosis," "Smart Access," "Smart Adapt," and the intriguing "Food Management."
"Consumers will be more empowered when doing household tasks thanks to more efficient, controllable, and ecofriendly appliance options,” said Young-ha Lee, President and CEO of LG Electronics Home Appliance Company. “This isn’t a gradual evolution – LG THINQ technology essentially transforms how consumers take care of their home, and makes it easier and smarter than ever before.”
Each appliance supports smart metering to ensure that appliances use the minimum amount of energy at the least expensive rates as possible. When switched on, consumers have the choice of using “Recommend Time,” which does the washing at the nearest, most cost-effective time or immediately if there are no off-peak electricity options available anytime soon. Alternatively, users can opt for “Lowest Rate,” which finds the time when electricity rates are at their lowest. Consumers can also select the washing time themselves, and if they have to do the washing at a peak time, the washing machine will recommend the most energy-efficient cycle.
Also using smart grid-based intelligence, LG’s ovens offer three cost options: low, middle and high; that take into account both the duration of the cooking cycle and varying costs of electricity. Similarly, LG’s refrigerators can use a unique algorithm to adjust various functions, such as defrost time control, to offer further savings on energy bills at peak times. LG's new refrigerators even count and display the frequency at which homeowners open the refrigerator door, the greatest drain on refrigeration energy.
The LCD display on LG’s smart appliances show daily, weekly or monthly reports detailing the appliance’s overall levels of energy consumption and associated costs. Daily totals for electricity usage and subsequent charges will be accessible on smartphones and tablet PCs.
LG’s "Smart Diagnosis" is a troubleshooting feature that helps customer service representatives quickly solve mechanical issues over the phone, limiting costly service calls and in-home visits. For minor problems (refrigerator door left open, ice-maker switched off, washing machine off-balance) the appliance alerts the owner either on its display panel or for future models, via a Wi-Fi connection, on the consumer’s smartphone or tablet PC.
For laundry units, when consumers call the LG customer service center, a technician will instruct them to press a sequence of buttons. This triggers a series of tones that let the technician identify the issue and how to correct the problem. Consumers can also diagnose their washing machines at home via a downloadable mobile application on their smartphone.
LG Smart Access makes it possible for homeowners to monitor and control home appliances remotely from outside of the home. Using a smartphone or tablet PC, users can manage their washing cycle or set their refrigerator temperature while they’re away. Alert messages will be sent to the user’s smartphone or tablet PC for items such as the end of a washing cycle or a potential product issue.
Attention futurists: consumers will even be able to order their HOM-BOT robotic vacuum cleaner to tidy up their home while they’re out, or use the vacuum’s viewing function to keep watch when they are away from home. Via a smartphone or tablet PC, consumers may even have the option to have HOM-BOT feed their pet while they’re away!
LG Smart Adapt is a firmware update service which allows users to download the latest software upgrades for their appliances via a Wi-Fi connection. According to LG, "with this innovation, consumers will be able to access up-to-date pre-programmed recipes as well as advanced cycles for their washing machines. A mother with a newborn child might opt for special delicate washing cycles for the baby’s clothes, while individuals involved in particularly strenuous work might need to add a more heavy-duty wash cycle to their laundry unit."
Finally, LG’s Food Management Solution is embedded food inventory software with the ability to track expiration dates of a refrigerator's contents. By dragging and dropping food icons on the refrigerator’s LCD display or by using the voice recognition function, users can easily identify what is in the refrigerator, as well as where certain items are located and when they expire. This information is also accessible via smartphone or tablet PC, allowing consumers to reference this while grocery shopping.